back to article Apple owes us big time for bungled display-killing cable design in MacBook Pro kit, lawsuit claims

Apple is potentially facing a class-action lawsuit over the failure of displays on its MacBook Pro line. The Cupertino iGiant is the defendant in a complaint [PDF], filed in a US federal district court in California this week, alleging violations of both state and federal consumer protection laws as well as fraudulent …

  1. cb7

    Whatever damages Apple ends up paying, it'll still only be pocket change for the vain bully.

    1. Snake Silver badge

      Vain bully

      May I politely ask for an explanation of that description?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Vain bully

        Presumably he is referring to the fact that Apple always feel they're in the right and can do no wrong.....and they'll happily keep things dragging out in court for years unless you settle, as recently happened with that Facetime case that The Register reported.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Vain bully

          While "bully" doesn't exactly describe my own experience, I have had a bad update to an Apple computer cause it to no longer function, and the Gee-nee-us Bar claim that it was a bad hard drive that was only revealed by the update. You know, the standard way hard drives fail - by working perfectly until the day of an update, then running at 1% of former speed but still letting you copy everything off of it?

          Had to pay for a new hard drive, at Apple prices. They WOULD NOT LISTEN when told it was the update.

          1. Kabukiwookie

            Re: Vain bully

            And did you actually.learn a lesson from that experience or did you buy the next 'ooh shiny'from Apple?

            1. Snake Silver badge

              Re: Vain bully

              The context of his statement was vague to me, I thought he might be talking about the plaintiff and a side reference to the fact that lawyers often take the biggest chunk of a class action settlement. But it seems most people are applying the appellation of "bully" to Apple, so this has both cleared up my confusion regarding the direction of the statement and gotten my upvote - I'm quite OK with Apple being claimed as a bully. :-)

          2. Tom 38

            Re: Vain bully

            Presumably an SSD? There are a number of gotchas with SSDs that can lead to precipitous performance degradation (particularly write speed) due to the SSD running out of space, it might have to load blocks - remember that SSDs use 256kb blocks internally, exposed as 4kb pages - and combine multiple pages into unused parts of currently used blocks. The degradation is called SSD write amplification, and is affected by many factors.

            Your hard drive doesn't even have to be "full", it could just be thinking it is running out of space; its not necessarily having 80%+ space used as visible to your OS, if you write and delete a lot of files, then you might start running out of pristine blocks for the SSD to work with, which really can lead to disastrous performance.

            The firmware on the device itself can also play a part; there was an infamous firmware from (I think) OCZ, it used a fast algorithm for garbage collection when there were >50% blocks unallocated, but as soon as it went below that it absolutely killed the performance. This gave it great performance when new, but crappy performance in actual usage.

            If your drive was quite full of your data (>80%), then getting a newer, larger drive probably was the right answer. Installing a large OS update, which typically deletes a lot of files and writes new ones, could easily have pushed this drive into a state where the performance was just terrible, and either a new drive, or deleting a lot of data, wiping the drive, and restoring the needed data from backup are the options. The genius probably followed the script and upsold you rather than doing the maintenance.

            Whether its right or wrong that drives that say "500GB" shouldn't be filled with more than 400GB is a completely different matter - and in fact, some of the "better" brands these days are better simply because they over-provision their drives with more blocks than the others, eg they sell a 100GB drive that actually has 128GB of storage on it. Some drives allow you to configure the amount of over-provisioning to allow for this, eg enterprise drives typically use 28% over-provisioning, where as consumer devices typically do either 0% or 7%.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Vain bully

              (The AC with the "failed" drive)

              Drive was a HDD with plenty of empty space (50%+). 1% performance was probably an overestimate - it took a couple hours for the OS to boot, and a week to transfer the files via network. I suspect the OS update (a major one) included either a firmware update for the wrong model drive, or changed the OS to use a mode that the drive didn't support, thus kicking it into limp-along mode. Either way, no, I haven't bought an Apple device since, and that particular one was a gift anyway.

              Ironically enough, the new Apple-installed drive failed less than a month later, so they replaced it for free that time. It's been several years, and the machine (and drive) are still going strong.

              Oh, and in the original incident, they upgraded to the next size higher drive without telling me (possibly out of stock of the original size), and then tried to charge me the price of the bigger drive instead of the quoted price. Raising your voice in the Apple store is a really fast way to get them to resolve an issue, i.e. let me pay what was quoted. I didn't discover the bigger drive size until I got it home.

              1. NATTtrash

                Re: Vain bully

                And getting the drive out, putting it in an external case, and copying your files off wasn't an option? Even my grand daughter knows how that works...

                1. Richard 12 Silver badge

                  This was an Apple device

                  That's all you need to know about the feasibility of removing the drive, or putting it in an external caddy

                  1. Jeffrey Nonken

                    Re: This was an Apple device

                    I could do that on my 2016 Macbook in about 5 minutes.

                    It would take me closer to an hour, now. 55 minutes of that would be spent finding which box it's in.

                    1. hoola Silver badge

                      Re: This was an Apple device

                      Apple are not alone in being pigheaded in this way. I had a friend who spent an absolute fortune on a carbon fibre YT mountain bike. The paint started to crack at the base of the seat tube (it may have been down tube) and it became clear that the frame itself had an issue. It was under warranty so a claim was started. Photos etc with no impact damage were sent. YT were adamant that it was caused by crash damage not a fault and that the frame should be sent back to be examined. An offer of a "crash replacement" was made at an exorbitant price. When YT received the frame they promptly destroyed it by cutting it up to prove that it was cracked, still blaming impact damage despite that fact there was nothing to suggest this. The friend was now even worse off as they no longer had the frame (which may have been repairable until it was cut up) and only had an offer or a very expensive crash replacement.

                      Buying high end products does not guarantee longevity, fault-free manufacture or good service. What it does guarantee is that at some point you will end up paying even (lots) more.

                      1. Korev Silver badge

                        Re: This was an Apple device

                        Some of the online bike retailers have a fairly poor reputation for service. Another one even messed up my order and threatened me with legal action!

                        When I cracked the seat / top tube junction on my bike I emailed the dealer at 21.30 and I got an email at about 9.30 the next morning telling me that a replacement had been ordered. He even lent me a bike to go on a trip to the Alps with so I wouldn't miss out.

  2. Marcus Fil

    Seems to me ..

    Apple could regain a lot of credibility if it ditched AppleCare+ and included a 3 year warranty at no extra cost on its already inflated prices. Not only would this be popular with consumers, and a vote of confidence in its own products, it might actually force its product development teams to work for a living. Just make their pay inversley proportional to rate of repair returns.

    Of course it is also worth pointing out that EU consumer protection law shields consumers for 6 six years from inbuild faults. Apple is only too aware of this, sadly consumers less so. Brits presumably advised to get 3rd party extended warranty (cheaper than Apple's own) beyond end of December 2020, although plunging £ will render Apple products unaffordable anyway.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Seems to me ..

      It could. But it would impact the bottom line. And the bottom hole executives can't have that.

    2. SuperGeek

      Re: Seems to me ..

      "Apple could regain a lot of credibility".

      "Apple" and "credibility" have never gone together, never will. "Apple" and "fleece", however have. Put your fleece on, sheeple, it's getting cold out!

      1. Matthew 25

        Re: Seems to me ..

        Surely that should be iFleece. Apple have innovated a whole new way of keeping you at exactly the right temperature. Available in Black, Jet Black, Silver, Gold, Rose Gold and (Product)RED.

    3. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: plunging £ will render Apple products unaffordable anyway.

      "The Donald' will make sure that we continue to pay through the nose for anything that supposedly comes from the wonderful, magical, brilliant... USA MAGA and all that.

      Along with the Hormone laden Beef, Chlorinated Chicken and GM Maize, we will be [redacted] and [redacted].

      Yes, I'm being cynical but there is a possibilty that as the US has us over a barell when it comes to the trade negociations we might end up being a really, really big loser. Just so we can export some Scotch to the Yanks. Doh!

    4. AndrueC Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Re: Seems to me ..

      Of course it is also worth pointing out that EU consumer protection law shields consumers for 6 six years from inbuild faults.

      No it doesn't. EU law requires member countries to implement a two year guarantee but that is still subject to various forms of redress. It also allows for the burden of proof to shift from retailer to consumer. For example in the UK if a good fails within six months it is assumed that a fault existed and it's for the retailer to prove otherwise. After that period of time the onus is on the consumer to prove it. In addition the retailer has various forms of redress they can attempt and they are allowed to take fair wear and tear into consideration.

      There is no legal requirement for a retailer to replace a hard drive that fails after seven months with a new one. Legally the customer would have to find an expert that would attest to it being an existing fault and then retailer could replace it with a refurb, or make a partial refund. Of course most retailers have more sense than to get embroiled in all that so most will just replace it for free with a new unit but that's going above and beyond what the law requires.

      UK law does extend the time in which you can make a claim to six years but that's not a guarantee. It just means you don't have to make a claim immediately and can therefore make one after the fact. In effect it's a statute of limitations.

  3. Just Enough

    Even those guys knew

    "so common that Apple Genius Bar technicians were easily able to diagnose the cause"

    Wait. I thought those guys were supposed to be geniuses? So it wouldn't matter if it was common, those geniuses would easily diagnose it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Even those guys knew

      Key word is "supposed" - they're not really geniuses. More like Tier 1 tech support - they can read from the script, but that's about it.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Re: Even those guys knew

        You give them too much credit. I'd put them at tier 1 customer (not tech) support. Their basic script is: "I think it's your fault. Give it to us and we'll check it out. We checked it and it's not covered. We can fix it but it will cost you. Are you sure you don't want to upgrade to the latest model?"

        1. Wade Burchette

          Re: Even those guys knew

          Exactly right. The standard modus operandi of Apple when something breaks is "Buy a new one."

          The Canadian Broadcast Corporation had a story about this the cable issue affecting Macbooks displays. The "genius bar" told the undercover reporter that he should just buy a new computer. An independent repair shop fixed it without replacing a part and proved everything the "genius bar" said was a lie.

          1. Neon Teepee

            Two Words

            Louis Rossmann - check out his you tube channel

            He's the guy that fixed it.

            If you want to know all the terrible engineering that goes into a Macbook. (Lenovo may not be much better I am typing on one that has 3 new motherboards and a new 'Power Switch' daughter board)

            Alternatively if you want to know how bad i/phone/pad devices are check out Jessa Jones

        2. Suricou Raven

          Re: Even those guys knew

          It's actually worse than that. Their 'apple certified technicians' are expressly forbidden, on pain of revocation, from carrying out any hardware repair other than replacing modular components in the pre-approved manner. If they open up a laptop and see a failed capacitor on the backlight driver, they have to replace the entire screen - and then they need to return the faulty one to apple for destruction, to make sure it can't end up on the grey market for non-certified technicians to use.

        3. Neon Teepee

          Re: Even those guys knew

          water damage - its your fault

    2. macjules

      Re: Even those guys knew

      Yeah, and it is supposed to be the "Genius Bar". Every time I have been in there I have never seen even the hint of a free glass of wine.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Simples. They're closing it wrong.

  5. RM Myers

    "...cable connecting the two halves of the notebook to gradually wear down..."

    You're holding folding it wrong.

  6. Version 1.0 Silver badge


    People think that because they are paying a lot of money for the equipment then it must be extra special good and well made. Sorry but that's not the case, the Apple software environment is good and very user orientated but the hardware is just hardware, made abroad in the same factory that builds the rest of the junk we all buy ... and replace from time to time.

    1. Emma25

      Re: SNAFU

      The “junk” they had made and we still buy goes through a design process. They have experts study and check the concept, materials, and production quality before they approve and eventually ship it. Other electronics companies can check their quality, surely a multimillion company that charges ‘too much’ for the product and repair could do that at the very least.

  7. Irongut

    > rubbing slowly causes the cables wear and tear over time."... the user has to pay several hundred dollars to have the screen replaced.

    Surely if the ribbon cable fails all you need to do is replace it at the cost of a few quid, not the actual screen.

    1. cambsukguy

      Haha, the good old days when you could replace a cable.

      ISTR it is a bonded dohickey, at least on one end. No chance of replacement, which would also fail unless it was longer of course.

    2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      I'm sorry, you're expecting to have something that can actually be repaired ?

      This is the 3rd millennium. We don't repair any more, we replace. Then we complain about abusing Gaia's resources. Get with the program.

    3. JakeMS
      Thumb Up

      Yup, I've replaced that cable on a laptop a few years ago (not a apple).

      Simply found a dirt cheap matching laptop that was sold as "Spares or repair" that had a busted from impact LCD on ebay and swapped the cable.

      Then noticed the spares one had a pci wifi, grabbed that too (mine didn't, I was using a wifi usb).

      So, overall worked out well for me.

      You can keep a laptop running for years just by swapping failed parts, I've swapped keyboards, screens, ram, hdds etc

      Broken? Fix it!

      1. Stork Silver badge

        The upside of Apple stuff being pricey is that if something is at all replaceable, odds are that there is a how-to on iFixit and you can buy suitable parts.

        I kept a 2010 MBP going for 9.5 years (still works, but my son says it is temperamental) by replacing battery and trackpad. The household has a 2014 Retina MBP which has had new battery, liquid dropped in it (opened, taken apart, bathed in Isopropanol, dried), new keyboard and is now waiting for memory upgrade.

        A lot is possible, but Apple did not have to make it that difficult

  8. DerekCurrie

    A Choice Apple Bungle

    This fits right in with the overall era of Apple Bungles that started 4 years ago. This is so incredibly stupid and easy to have fixed. Apple knows how to do this right, no question about it. That they let this slide is profoundly lazy, incompetent, irresponsible and asinine on their part.

    It's long overdue for a management overhaul at Apple regarding ALL things Macintosh.


    And yes, I'm a very long time Apple fanatic. When Apple screws up, we shout about it loud, long and clear. Dammit.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Not loud enough, I think.

      1. Roo

        You'd have to shout pretty damn loud to be heard over the hordes of of the bean counters chuckling happily at the huge mountains of cash that Tim Cook sleeps on.

  9. Christian Berger

    Well at least they were cheap...

    Mac books are cheap, aren't they?

  10. Mark192

    What's the point...

    ...if the only premium part is the price and the marketing.

    Making customers spend $$$ on a screen because the company doesn't want to equip employees to replace the 10 cent ribbon cable... they're a joke.

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: What's the point...

      Most laptop (and phone) display "ribbon cables" are actually flexible PCBs that are soldered or welded to the display, and are quite often physically part of the display PCB.

      The days of socketed harnesses are long gone in the pursuit of thinness (and ease of manufacture, to be fair)

      1. Mark192

        Re: What's the point...

        Sorry, you're right. Frustratingly, in the several videos I've just watched, no one goes beyond just repeating "it's built into the display" but certainly when that Rossman chap said it couldn't be done I'm gonna have to just accept that :-/

  11. bobjimwhit

    i've been building/repairing computer of all description for years.

    when people come to me asking "should i buy a Mac or a PC?"

    my stock answer is "Why would you want a Mac unless it's raining?"

    1. Mark192

      I kept thinking that things like repairability, upgradability or even just being able to easily pop in a fresh battery 24 months down the line is something people would go nuts for.... Nope!

      At least bigger screens took off.

      1. whoseyourdaddy

        Since the MacBook Air was released, no on wants to buy a laptop with a replaceable/removable battery any more.

        Too bulky.

        No one wants to have their reputation destroyed after their battery design allowed customers to lug around a loose LiPo battery without thick/heavy armor to prevent the inevitable violent fire during a trans-Atlantic flight after a vigorous encounter with their car keys.

  12. IGotOut Silver badge

    Ahhh a good old class action...

    Lawfirm $50 million dollars.

    Affected customers who actually had the issue, 33 cents each.

  13. ideapete

    WTF every time

    Interesting as the solution for the vanishing cursor is -- wait for it - OPEN CLOSE the laptop

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: WTF every time

      What is with companies fucking with cursors? Those pricks at gnome made it so the cursor stops blinking after 10 repetitions in terminal to 'save energy'. Yes the rainforest are really going to be saved by whatever nanojoules are saved by not inverting an 8x8 grid of pixels once per second. At the expense of failing to provide an immediate visual indicator of which terminal has focus, and reassurance the GPU hasn't crashed. i.e. the whole fucking point of make a cursor blink

      To get it back you have to override it with dconf write /org/gnome/desktop/interface/cursor-blink-timeout 999999

      No I'm not kidding

      First few times it happened I was lost in thought about something and it LITERALLY jolted me out of it to try to figure out what changed. Second time, I literally thought my GPU had crashed and did a ctrl-alt-f1 ctrl-alt-f7 to get back. THEN i watched carefully and noticed it always stopped after ten repetitions, then spent like half an hour fucking around on forums trying to track down how to fix it and which key and dconf/gconf/gsettings bullshitter.

      It is NOT productive to have stupid defaults like this.

      Like imagine if you're visually impaired and need a mouse cursor that inverts and constantly wiggles and stuff so you never lose it. And then the gnome developers decide no that's a waste of energy only going to let it do that for 10 seconds. IDIOTS.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: WTF every time

        Hmm there should be a mouse cursor option there the arrow constantly circles a point with the tip and shimmers between white and black in cool ways.

        ACTUALLY it should move as you move the mouse so it's like there's wind resistance or something like a weather vane, and then once it stops moving, go back to circling.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: WTF every time

          It's 2020 and we're still making do with static black and white bitmaps like alto plebs. Really is due to be like a fully rendered translucent bouncing orbitting opengl mouse pointer that morphs between arrow and other shapes.

    2. Scott 53

      Re: WTF every time

      "Interesting as the solution for the vanishing cursor is -- wait for it - OPEN CLOSE the laptop"

      I think you're the kind of person who fixes problems by turning it on and off again.

  14. DoctorNine

    Just look at it...

    If you tilt the Apple insignia slightly clockwise, it becomes apparent that it's not a delicious piece of fruit from which you have taken a bite, but rather a fat-headed man, with a noticeably long proboscis, whose mouth is wide open as he prepares to take a bite out of you.

    This has always scared me more than a little. Put me off Apple products since I first noticed it in 2012.

  15. Rich 2 Silver badge

    Class action

    Why does anyone “hope” for class action status? All it seems to mean is that nobody actually gets anything out of the litigation - the usual result seemingly being “we won! Great - everyone in the country gets 20 cents”

  16. DenTheMan

    How about an auto lock update....

    .. one that only allows the laptop to be opened once per day.

    Dont throttle me if Apple take up the idea.

  17. KieAG7

    MacBook Pro 16"?

    Will this MacBook Pro issue affect the new MacBook Pro 16" from 2019?

  18. KieAG7


    Is this article referring to Flexgate? Because they fixed it back in 2018

  19. Neon Teepee


    Serves em right. Buy apple pay the price and then later pay the included, determined repair or upgrade price. Oh is your data tied to your now broken device because we only have soldered on storage - Hope you have a backup, in iCloud that you are paying for..........

    Two words



    View that you tube channel and buy apple - you get everything you oh so richly deserve

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like