When Apple last redesigned the MacBook Pro keyboard, it attempted to shave roughly one quadrillionth of a millimeter off the keyboard design by shifting to a new type of switch with minimal key travel. Predictably — because literally nothing can be made thinner forever — this relentless pursuit of thinness caused problems. The new keyboards fail far more often than the old ones did, in part because something as simple as a large grain of dust is capable of preventing the new keyboards from actuating properly.
One might be tempted to ask how Apple missed such a problem during it’s testing process, but the answer is obvious: Dust is legally banned from Apple and Apple HQ by order of Tim Cook, thereby preventing the company’s engineers from anticipating that the world is full of particles, some of which would inevitably find their way into the keyboard.
Apple has announced that it will implement a new repair program to deal with this problem, and refund the payments of customers who previously paid Apple for repairs. The following machines are eligible for repair:
Reminder: Free Apple Repairs Aren’t Free
One common way this story is being covered is with some variation on the following headline: “Apple announces free keyboard repair program.” That’s technically true — but there’s some fine print attached that people aren’t always aware of, and it applies to more than just this specific case. Back in May, 9to5Mac reported on Apple’s refusal to replace batteries for impacted customers if they had anything remotely wrong with their device — even if said “problem” had nothing to do with the battery. Users were told they’d have to pay hundreds of dollars for device repair for minor dings to the front of the phone (not involving the screen) or in one case, for having a faulty microphone connection. Apple claimed at the time that this condition was in the company’s warranty, but no such clause or requirement was present when the BBC searched the document.
Apple’s new repair program contains the same clause, stating: “Note: If your MacBook or MacBook Pro has any damage which impairs the service, that issue will need to be repaired first. In some cases, there may be a cost associated with the repair.”
It’s a cynical move designed to shove as many Apple users towards buying AppleCare as hard as possible. The goal is obvious: Find a way to ding the user for a fee no matter what, thereby demonstrating the superior power of buying the extended warranty from Apple — and keeping Apple’s profits higher even in the event that it sells fewer products in any given quarter. Since AppleCare is basically pure profit for Apple, any converted sales are a win for the company.