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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Mac Notebooks > ibook screen problem - Apple breaking consumer laws?

ibook screen problem - Apple breaking consumer laws?
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Fresh-Faced Recruit
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Feb 27, 2003, 08:00 AM
Right.. Before I start my actual post, there are a few things worth knowing about me: I am a journalist and photographer who frequently travels great distances, both within the UK and abroad. Because of this, I have been 100% dependent on my Apple iBook to work correctly. However, a month ago, things started to go sour... It has been a month, and I have had to try do my work without my ibook. Which was bad enough. What really bothers me, however, is that the problem with my computer is a problem that should be solved under warranty (both according to myself and the company attourney)

Here are some extracts from the letter I sent to apple - it explains what happened to some detail.

I called Apple Support on Wednesday January 29th, because of a problem with my Apple iBook. The problem is with the screen on the iBook: It either stays off when I turn on the computer, or it works for a very short period of time (6-7 minutes), before it gets a large number of lines through the display, completely obscuring everything on-screen, effectively rendering the laptop useless.

When I called Apple Support, I was informed that this was a warranty issue, and that I would be able to get it repaired for free. The tech representativeproceeded to ask if there were any scratches on the machine itself, and if I would want those repaired as well. I replied that the scratches were minimal, and therefore not a problem, but that the headphones jack on my iBook was broken:

=== The headphones port design

I believe Apple computers have made a major blunder with the design of the headphones port. My first Ibook had a nice, sturdy, metal mini-jack hole, which served me well for a long time. Unfortunately, this iBook was stolen, which was why I upgraded to a 700 MHz iBook.

I was surprised to find a flimsy-looking plastic headphones port, and called Apple right away, in case there was something wrong with the computer. I was assured that the port had just been redesigned, and that there was nothing to worry about.

Of course this was not true, and within a few weeks, the headphone jack port broke because of a clumsy encounter with a cable that was stretched across the floor. The headphone jack still works, but the connection is a bit loose. Not wanting to miss my computer because of the repair time, I started using an USB device (iMic) instead, giving me a new headphones and line in- and out ports.

=== Back to the problem

When I explained this to the tech support rep, he said that this problem would mean that they would have to replace the motherboard of the laptop. I told him that would not be necessary, as I already had a solution.

The tech rep promised me to send out a courier right away, so I would have a box for returning my laptop to Apple on Friday at the latest.

Today is Friday, and I received a telephone call from Apple customer relations. According to the lady, in order to get the screen repaired, I would have to let the computer be fully serviced. Including the headphones jack. But, because the damaged headphones jack was my own fault, I would have to pay the flat-rate for repairs. Which is a full £600.

So I told her that I would prefer to not have the headphones jack repaired – as I had already instructed the tech rep. However, she said that this would be impossible. Either I would have to get the whole laptop serviced, and pay the £ 600, or Apple Customer Service would not be able to help me. I was kindly instructed to get my laptop repaired elsewhere.

The way I see it, this is a very cheap trick from Apple Computers, to avoid having to pay the expenses of repairing the laptop. I have never mistreated the computer in any way, and the headphones jack is still in working order, but it has trouble holding the plugs in place. So, because of a design flaw on apple’s side, I have now been instructed to pay £600 for a 3 square millimetres piece of plastic that I do not need, in order to get the monitor repaired.

I hope you realise the absurdity of that situation, and I also hope that you realise and understand why I will not stand being treated like this as a customer.


Well, Apple called me back, and kindly informed me that it was not their problem, because I broke my headphones port.

If this had been the automotive industry, accept the following analogy:

I purchase an up-market car from Mercedes Benz. Unfortunately, due to a design flaw by MB, I break the CD player that is installed. A week later my engine blows up. MB refuse to repair the engine, because the CD player is not functioning.

... Does that sound like a realistic situation? Exactly. I am wondering why Apple thinks they can get away with it.

However, the way things are looking, I will still have to pay the whole thing myself. And it is starting to be a bit of a hurry, as I need it to travel to Arizona in the begining of april...

Does anyone have any tips as to
1) how I can make Apple accept the fact that the repair is, indeed, their problem?
2) failing that, how I can get the blasted thing repaired for less than £600? (note that a brand new iBook costs £1100)

Haje Jan Kamps
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Feb 27, 2003, 09:01 AM
Call them up, and don't get off the phone until they agree to repair it.

If you are argumentative enough, they should eventually cave in.

Oh, and use your analogy, it's a good one!

Let us know what happens.

What are you looking for? A signature?
Junior Member
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Feb 27, 2003, 01:42 PM
Apple seems to have some flawed logic in there policies...

Open up a new requistion and just tell them you want to get the screen fixed, don't mention the busted headjack port. Worth a shot.
Professional Poster
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Feb 27, 2003, 02:03 PM
First, you should not have mentioned the headphone jack. It was your fault, and I highly doubt it's a design flaw (why isn't it happening more often?).

However, you are getting screwed here. If Apple refuses to repair it, call your local BBB. You could also try taking it to an Apple Store and talking to a Genius, instead of dealing with support over the phone...
Simon X
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Feb 27, 2003, 03:55 PM
This does sound infuriating.

Call them again and don't get stop until they agree or cut you off. This is a war of attrition. But don't, I repeat, don't get mad and shout. In situations like this I usually get my way by staying calm yet forceful. I've been in sales and I know the type of situation from the other side.
(just today I got T-mobile to reduce the cost of my T68i handset upgrade from £70 to £30 just by being nice yet insistent at the injustice of their pricing schemes)

You did not tell them you broke the headphone jack. And if they question you on this then you tell them they misunderstood. What happened was the jack loosened when the headphone was removed. No yanking or tripping up over cable occurred. Forget about the design flaw., that just sound like an excuse. The screen is fecked and the jack is loose, but you want the screen fixed as a priority and the jack is non-urgent, unless they can fix it at the same time and without a delay.

Now why am I saying this. Well, since they misunderstood, insist on that, the onus is on them to prove the jack was damaged by you. But keep insisting the jack is not what is at issue her. Your screen is screwed. How the hell are they going to prove it's your fault you damaged the jack. No way, if it's just loose like you say. So they have to fix the screen and the jack.

So for the cost of a 30p bit of plastic headphone connector they want to charge you £600. Crap.

And another thing. Did you buy direct from Apple or from a store/mail order? Because if it's not from Apple just go the roundabout route and take or send it back to the dealer. But I'm sure you thought about this already if this was the case.

Good luck
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Feb 27, 2003, 08:36 PM
If all else fails, use who you are. You said that you are a journalist, write up a mock editorial about the situation that you have experienced and send it to Steve Jobs,his email address has been mentioned on this board or others before, explaining that because of the way you were treated by apple you feel that you are forced to publish this so the same unethical situation doesn't happen to other unsuspecting consumers. I know this sounds very much like blackmail, but that's why I said if all else fails. It is a horrible way that they are treating you and you need to let them know that and maybe this type of threat my work. What ever method that you use I truly hope that the situation gets resolved in your favor. Good Luck!
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Feb 27, 2003, 09:48 PM

Whatever you do, don't pay to have the display fixed!

Contact a consumer protection agency (or Attourney General's Office) in your area and ask them to quote you the law governing warranty repairs as it pertains to your situation. Also, ask your company's lawyer to quote you some legal jargon supporting your case.
Then call Apple back and keep asking to speak to a higher level of support until you reach a manager. Then start reading them your legal research and how Apple's actions violate consumer protection laws etc. etc. etc.

I'll bet they'll fix your display just to get you to leave them alone!

Often the original decision is made by a grumpy half wit who is stuck at the bottom end of the food chain for a reason; they're a grump half wit. Climb the ladder and you should see better results.

7 years ago I legally changed my name. The Federal District judge didn't like my choice of a new name because I wanted only one name, no last name (g). He rejected the application. I contacted the DA and asked if it was illegal to have only one name. He said "no, it's perfectly legal". Contacted the judge, told him what the DA said, and quite quickly, the application was approved.

So, if a dim-wit federal judge can mis-use the law, imagine what can happen in the bowels of a computer company's customer service office

As a renter on Maui, I have a ton of stories of how landlords have mis-quoted laws and tried to rip us off. Yet I've won each battle by simply using truthful knowledge of the law to put them in their place.

Don't give up!

Try this route before threatening to write negative news stories, you can always do that latter should all else fail.

Good Luck and keep us posted....
Fresh-Faced Recruit
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Feb 28, 2003, 10:55 AM
omg...this is exactly my problem!!!

i too have a busted headphones jack!!! one small pull of the cable and it broke. I called them up about it and insisted that it occured while i was wiggiling my headphones cable because the connection was already loose (claiming it was already broken before i started messing around with it)...after arguing for awhile they finally agreed to paying shipping and parts cost if i would pay for the labor...this came out to be about 300.00 us dollars. well, my jack still works i just have to have the cable with enough tension on it to stay at a certain angle. I have an imic too, it never occured to me that i could just use this (thanks for the tip!)...anyway so i decided not to get it repaired...i was thinkin of purchasing applecare soon, but actually i was thinkin in the back of my mind, what if they won't cover certain things because they'll say, " well you 've already damaged your logic board" (where the headphone jack is connected)...this really sucks. i'm so glad i read your post, but now i'm not sure what to do...this repair plus apple care would set me back at least third of the total cost of my laptop...that really stinks.

any suggestions?

to the original poster, i would like to hear how things play out for you...

drop me an email sometime at [email protected]

ps- i agree it is a stupid design to have thin plastic for headphones jack...and i'm sure a lot of people have had similar problems...
Fresh-Faced Recruit
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Feb 28, 2003, 01:37 PM
Here's what to do!

1} - Wrote to Steve Jobs, CEO c/o Apple by certified mail, receipt requested.
2) - Inform Apple that they either fix your defective logic board or you'll file a formal complain with Better Business Bureau, and with FTC or whatever "consumer protection agencies" where you are.
3) - Pretty soon you'll should receive a response from Apple legal department telling you they'll fix you Ibook for free because Apple as a smart company doesn't want complains filed against them with the "consumer protection agencies.
4) - Be happy with the new fixed ibook!
Mac Enthusiast
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Feb 28, 2003, 02:39 PM
Note: I used to work as a tech for a major, major reseller in the UK.

Apple UK Service are the most inept bunch of jobsworths on the planet. They are, too a man/woman, uniquely bloody-minded, pedantic, bureaucratic folks; incapable of making a decision without deferring to middle-management. Either:

a) Call them up and talk your way up the tree until you get satisfaction, or
b) Take the iBook to a reseller with a decent service department. Let them handle the problem.
All opinions are entirely those of my employer. It's not my fault.
Junior Member
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Mar 3, 2003, 01:39 PM
Call Apple's Public Relations Department and tell them the story.
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