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You are here: MacNN Forums > Community > MacNN Lounge > Smoking may void Applecare warranty due to "health hazard"

Smoking may void Applecare warranty due to "health hazard"
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Nov 22, 2009, 04:02 AM
 
from Appleinsider:

Apple owners claim that their Applecare warranties have been refused due to "health risks of second hand smoke."

The Consumerist has reported that two separate readers have sent in accounts of being refused computer repair service due to the presence of damage related to smoking. The readers were reportedly told that computers with evidence of smoke damage could not be worked on because Apple considers them to be health hazards, and to have workers repair the computer would be an OSHA violation.

Employees at one Apple store reportedly told a customer that her computer was "beyond economical repair due to tar from cigarette smoke."

Both customers sent letters directly to Steve Jobs' office and both were declined service even though they had active Applecare warranties. One reader received a response advising that "nicotine is on OSHA's list of hazardous substances and Apple would not require an employee to repair anything deemed hazardous to their health."

Apple has not officially responded to any inquiries about this policy and it is unclear if it is a blanket policy or if there is a workable threshold for the amount of smoke damage present.
Scroll down to see the photos: And Tobacco is just as bad for your computer as it is for you
     
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Nov 22, 2009, 04:04 AM
 
Only in Amaraca™

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Nov 22, 2009, 04:57 AM
 
I've seen the insides of boxes brought in for servicing due to overheating.

Heavy smoker in a dusty basement.

Absolutely vile. I'm an occasional smoker, but I would not expect *anyone* to deal with that. Completely covered in sticky yellow fuzzy cake.
     
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Nov 22, 2009, 05:24 AM
 
Well done.
     
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Nov 22, 2009, 07:47 AM
 
Yeah, I'm with Apple on this one. Repairing PCs used by heavy smokers was one of the most disgusting things I ever had to do back in the day.
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Nov 22, 2009, 08:43 AM
 
Nasty as a smoke-filled Mac may be, I hope these peeps sue the ass off Apple. Unless it mentions something about smoking in their AppleCare agreement, of course.
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Nov 22, 2009, 11:17 AM
 
Smoke exposure and dust are essentially abuse. If a laptop is not covered when submerged in water, why should a Mac filled with dust be covered? People just don't think about it because it doesn't happen instantly.

Using the OSHA-hazard is just an excuse. Apple is lame for using it. They should deny it based on improper environment exposure and update Applecare to state that excessive dust and smoking tar are not covered.

Have any other companies denied warranties because of dust or smoke damage? Yup!

Sony: Dust Voids PS3 Warranty

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Nov 22, 2009, 12:10 PM
 
I picked up a crud infested PC on Monday morning, the crusty coverings of tobacco on the grills smeared off upon my clothes instantly, not to mention the sticky nature of everything about the PC. The customer had been in ownership for less than a year.

However, I'm not dead or suffering any medical complains having serviced that PC...
     
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Nov 22, 2009, 12:15 PM
 
Employees at one Apple store reportedly told a customer that her computer was "beyond economical repair due to tar from cigarette smoke."
I agree with Eriamjh. The "health hazard" excuse seems like BS, but the explanation provided to the second customer above seems entirely appropriate. Excessive exposure to cigarette smoke isn't a product defect or normal wear-and-tear to be covered under a warranty.

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Nov 22, 2009, 01:03 PM
 
Geniuses I know have said that they've had to void warranties for biohazards before: vomit, blood, and pee. Yeah. Eww.
     
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Nov 22, 2009, 01:17 PM
 
Originally Posted by RAILhead View Post
Yeah, I'm with Apple on this one. Repairing PCs used by heavy smokers was one of the most disgusting things I ever had to do back in the day.
Then it needs to be called out in the warranty that Macs subjected to cigarette smoke are not covered.
     
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Nov 22, 2009, 01:29 PM
 
To satisfy both their warranty obligations and OSHA regulations, shouldn't Apple be providing their stores/depot with the appropriate PPE?
     
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Nov 22, 2009, 01:41 PM
 
Originally Posted by mduell View Post
To satisfy both their warranty obligations and OSHA regulations, shouldn't Apple be providing their stores/depot with the appropriate PPE?
Yup. Unless the warranty covers that language somehow, they should be figuring out a way to deal with it. But they don't have to worry about a lawsuit really, because nobody will rush to represent those "evil" smokers.
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Nov 22, 2009, 01:55 PM
 
Originally Posted by Eriamjh View Post
Smoke exposure and dust are essentially abuse. If a laptop is not covered when submerged in water, why should a Mac filled with dust be covered? People just don't think about it because it doesn't happen instantly.

Using the OSHA-hazard is just an excuse. Apple is lame for using it. They should deny it based on improper environment exposure and update Applecare to state that excessive dust and smoking tar are not covered.
This is the only problem here.

If the box overheats or breaks or shorts out due to corrosion or other nasty side effects of the unimaginably vile crap that accumulates due to heavy smoking and dust, then this is NOT a warranty issue, any more than it would be if I chose to run the machine in a poolside sauna.

However, denying it on grounds of second-hand smoke is just idiotic.
     
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Nov 22, 2009, 06:26 PM
 
I agree with Apple on this in principle-from a hardware standpoint. I have had to work on hardware used by heavy smokers, and "nasty" is a mild term for how the guts of electronics get in that sort of environment. Not only do the smoke deposits smell vile, they are sticky and collect enough dust and crud that the hardware can easily overheat, causing significant damage. Would anyone expect Apple to honor the warranty on a piece of hardware that had been run while covered with plastic that blocked the ventilation for the device? I kind of doubt any case could be made for that.

It's not trivial, but you can protect yourself from the vileness using gloves and a respirator, but with enough crap stuck to the components, it would take way too many work hours to clean up the device to make it economically feasible to work on.

I am with Spheric Harlot on this. If you're smoking enough to get that much crud inside your computer, you're not "just" smoking, and voiding the warranty on your computer is the least of your issues. However, Apple hasn't gotten to be a big business by being stupid with business; I have to wonder if the Appleinsider article is providing the whole story, and if the information being reported is actually coming from an official Apple source or third-hand and poorly remembered.

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Nov 22, 2009, 07:22 PM
 
I'm in agreement with those who say that Apple needs to get this into their AppleCare terms.

To all of a sudden say "Oh, there was cigarette smoke around the computer? Sorry... no coverage for you, but thanks for the $229 you paid for the nice AppleCare box, sucker" is weak. Heck, this even applies to the stock 1-year warranty as well.

Yeah, Apple needs to be up front about this disqualification. $10 says AppleCare sales drop roughly the same percentage as there are smokers in the population.
     
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Nov 22, 2009, 08:28 PM
 
Originally Posted by ghporter View Post
I agree with Apple on this in principle-from a hardware standpoint. I have had to work on hardware used by heavy smokers, and "nasty" is a mild term for how the guts of electronics get in that sort of environment. Not only do the smoke deposits smell vile, they are sticky and collect enough dust and crud that the hardware can easily overheat, causing significant damage.
That's some serious smoking to do that. I smoke like a chimney and my machines are clean as a whistle.
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Nov 22, 2009, 08:40 PM
 
Originally Posted by Doofy View Post
That's some serious smoking to do that. I smoke like a chimney and my machines are clean as a whistle.
You might be surprised at some of the stuff I've worked on. I can't imagine how much this one guy smoked, but the unit I worked on, a radio base station, was supposed to have a white case-it was a yellow-brown on the outside-and the machine was literally sticky inside. This box had no fans, so the smoke got in passively. And there was enough lint and other crap stuck to the gunk inside that I gave up after pouring a whole half-liter bottle of rubbing alcohol over the circuit board and scrubbing with a toothbrush without a noticeable improvement.

At least that was only smoke. Another customer's radio base station smelled funny, and when I opened the case I saw why. This guy had a bug problem of biblical proportions, and it was the bug spray he'd used INSIDE the case that had killed the unit. And dozens of (very yuck) bugs that were still in the box.

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Nov 22, 2009, 08:42 PM
 
I let my sister use my old iMac G3 DV SE for a couple of years. When I finally got it back, you couldn't see the CRT anymore because of the film on the inside from smoking.

I can understand why this would void any warranty coverage.

It's also disgusting.
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Nov 22, 2009, 08:46 PM
 
Originally Posted by ghporter View Post
You might be surprised at some of the stuff I've worked on. I can't imagine how much this one guy smoked, but the unit I worked on, a radio base station, was supposed to have a white case-it was a yellow-brown on the outside-and the machine was literally sticky inside. This box had no fans, so the smoke got in passively. And there was enough lint and other crap stuck to the gunk inside that I gave up after pouring a whole half-liter bottle of rubbing alcohol over the circuit board and scrubbing with a toothbrush without a noticeable improvement.

At least that was only smoke. Another customer's radio base station smelled funny, and when I opened the case I saw why. This guy had a bug problem of biblical proportions, and it was the bug spray he'd used INSIDE the case that had killed the unit. And dozens of (very yuck) bugs that were still in the box.
Over on Badcaps, people have suggested a good old wash in the sink with green machine (or similarly named cleaner) - we don't have it over here.

I did leave my HP NX6125 motherboard in a bath of water overnight to try and clean it, didn't fix it, but didn't make it any worse. Previous owner tipped a glass of wine over it. I may try it again, with some detergent this time, since it's dead anyway.
     
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Nov 22, 2009, 09:35 PM
 
     
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Nov 22, 2009, 09:38 PM
 
What a nice fire that will become...
     
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Nov 22, 2009, 10:48 PM
 
Ugh, I'm glad we don't allow cigarette smoking in the house. It wasn't really concern over the computers, more for the books. Not to say there isn't any smoking, just no cigs.
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Nov 23, 2009, 03:00 AM
 
I have to wonder if the Appleinsider article is providing the whole story, and if the information being reported is actually coming from an official Apple source or third-hand and poorly remembered.
good point; customers have a habit of ignoring everything said that doesn't work in their favor, and getting loud at the rest.

It's quite possible that somebody mentioned the health hazard aspect within fifteen minutes of explanatory conversation, and being in customer service, failed to make more than unmistakable implications (rather than outright stating) that the machines in question were in a user-induced condition that made them impossible to work on for more than health reasons.
     
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Nov 23, 2009, 10:30 AM
 
Originally Posted by ghporter View Post
...I gave up after pouring a whole half-liter bottle of rubbing alcohol over the circuit board and scrubbing with a toothbrush without a noticeable improvement.
Originally Posted by seanc View Post
... I did leave my HP NX6125 motherboard in a bath of water overnight to try and clean it, didn't fix it, but didn't make it any worse.
Whoa... computer innards can be doused and soaked with liquid (and be expected to work afterwards? I thought all liquids were off limits to circuit boards, mother boards, etc.. Is this not the case?
     
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Nov 23, 2009, 10:42 AM
 
Originally Posted by spacefreak View Post
Whoa... computer innards can be doused and soaked with liquid (and be expected to work afterwards? I thought all liquids were off limits to circuit boards, mother boards, etc.. Is this not the case?
IIRC, all electricals can. Just as long as you dry 'em before turning 'em back on.
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Nov 23, 2009, 10:47 AM
 
The key word here is "dry" - like, try it for days.
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Nov 23, 2009, 10:57 AM
 
And also, clear (ideally distilled) water is FAR preferable to a nothing-to-lose option ruined by sticky or crystalline residue.
     
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Nov 23, 2009, 11:34 PM
 
Originally Posted by Doofy View Post
IIRC, all electricals can. Just as long as you dry 'em before turning 'em back on.
Which is the point of rubbing alcohol-the higher the concentration the better. The alcohol dissolves crud, food/beverage residue, and all sorts of other stuff, and washes it away, and a rinse in alcohol ensures that the bad stuff is gone. High-concentration alcohol evaporates quickly too, ensuring that there is no moisture left.

Using distilled water to wash a circuit board is just fine as long as you rinse in alcohol, (alcohol and water mutually dissolve each other) so that there's no trapped or overlooked water.

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Nov 24, 2009, 01:15 AM
 
You drop a laptop while walking to class, its not covered by warranty.

You spend three years smoking around your laptop until its covered with grime and gunk, its not covered by warranty.

That honestly makes sense. You wouldn't assume that someone who used their laptop outside every day and then it died because of dirty/dust/sand after a couple of years to get it replaced. No different with smokers.
     
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Nov 24, 2009, 07:24 AM
 
I washed a bunch of keyboards in the dishwasher. They came out spotless and all work. Just don't use heat dry.

Now, you want really do that with a laptop or a computer, but if one removed the mobo, it would be OK. The electronics can handle being wet, just not powered and wet.

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Nov 24, 2009, 10:46 AM
 
Originally Posted by Eriamjh View Post
I washed a bunch of keyboards in the dishwasher. They came out spotless and all work. Just don't use heat dry.
Confirmed. Did that with a malfunctioning Apple keyboard, and amazingly, it worked again after the dishwasher run.

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Nov 24, 2009, 11:22 AM
 
Wouldn't it be nice if Apple offered accidental damage coverage?

At any rate, sure - maybe it's legitimate that smokers can void their warranty as a result of deposit buildup on the inside of the machine, but they need to be told that when the guy at the Apple store tries to sell them AppleCare. I don't think it occurs to a smoker that their habit could void their computer warranty.
     
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Nov 24, 2009, 12:33 PM
 
Originally Posted by shifuimam View Post
I don't think it occurs to a smoker that their habit could void their computer warranty.
Probably the same people who don't understand why their car windows are covered in a film of tar.

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Nov 24, 2009, 02:47 PM
 
I never thought that I'd say it, but I kind of agree with Apple on this one.

I worked as a Mac Genius for a year, and at times I had to use rubber gloves to near machines that came in for repair. In honesty, they were outside the boundaries of acceptability, and I was amazed people actually brought them in in that condition.

I gave up smoking about 9 months ago when my wife discovered she was pregnant, and these days when I smell a cigarette, I can't understand how I smoked for so long. If I had to fix a Mac Pro from a heavy smoker now, I think I'd have to demand a mask just to cope with the smell of nicotine...

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Nov 24, 2009, 03:58 PM
 
Originally Posted by Shaddim View Post
Ugh, I'm glad we don't allow cigarette smoking in the house. It wasn't really concern over the computers, more for the books. Not to say there isn't any smoking, just no cigs.
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Nov 24, 2009, 06:48 PM
 
Originally Posted by ghporter View Post
Which is the point of rubbing alcohol-the higher the concentration the better. The alcohol dissolves crud, food/beverage residue, and all sorts of other stuff, and washes it away, and a rinse in alcohol ensures that the bad stuff is gone. High-concentration alcohol evaporates quickly too, ensuring that there is no moisture left.

Using distilled water to wash a circuit board is just fine as long as you rinse in alcohol, (alcohol and water mutually dissolve each other) so that there's no trapped or overlooked water.
I'll have to look for some of this. There's definitely still wine on my motherboard.
Any shelf names/descriptions to look out for?
     
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Nov 24, 2009, 11:12 PM
 
Originally Posted by ghporter View Post
I gave up after pouring a whole half-liter bottle of rubbing alcohol over the circuit board and scrubbing with a toothbrush without a noticeable improvement.
If the situation comes up again, try an organic non-ploar solvent: gas, cyclohexane, or benzene. Less hazardous solutions: lots of hand soap, detergent, or cooking oil.
     
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Nov 25, 2009, 12:53 AM
 
Thanks for the info on the liquids, folks. I think we now have the makings of a new Apple cottage industry. Here's the pitch...

Smokers: Did you know that your Apple warranty is no good if you've smoked as little as one cigarette or doobie around your Mac, iPhone or iPod?

Introducing SmokerCare™

For $50/year, SmokerCare™ adds an additional level of warranty protection to your Apple Warranty. Before you take or send your Apple product to Apple for warranty service, simply send us your product for a complete cleansing of your Mac, iPhone, or iPod. Within 24 hours of receiving your product, we'll wash away all the built-up tar and smoke residue and get your unit back to you as clean as a whistle, and ready for Apple servicing.

Testimonials:

"I accidentally smoked 2 packs a day and blew all the smoke directly into my Mac Pro tower, not knowing that it would void my AppleCare. When my Mac Pro froze up, I didn't know what to do with my dark brown, tar-drenched tower. Then I found out about SmokerCare™. Within 3 days, I received my computer and I must say, it looked brand new. The folks at my local Apple Store had no clue it was ever in the vicinity of a smoker, and my warranty was honored. Thanks, SmokerCare™."

Limited Time Offer: Get 2 free cartons of your favorite brand of cigarettes (or a case of Philly Blunts and EZ-Wider rolling papers) when you purchase 3-years of SmokerCare™. As an added bonus, you'll also get a 1-gallon capacity Rainbow Apple ashtray.
     
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Nov 25, 2009, 02:07 AM
 
Originally Posted by spacefreak View Post
"I accidentally smoked 2 packs a day and blew all the smoke directly into my Mac Pro tower, not knowing that it would void my AppleCare. When my Mac Pro froze up, I didn't know what to do with my dark brown, tar-drenched tower.
You need a correction on that. You gotta go more than two packs a day to turn a Mac Pro's insides brown within three years.
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Nov 25, 2009, 09:06 AM
 
Originally Posted by CollinG3G4 View Post
If the situation comes up again, try an organic non-ploar solvent: gas, cyclohexane, or benzene. Less hazardous solutions: lots of hand soap, detergent, or cooking oil.
Fortunately for me, I don't do that kind of work anymore.

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