2016 MacBook Pro Keyboard Failed - No Replacements

kjvmartin

macrumors regular
Original poster
Oct 11, 2016
168
176
Detroit
Heads up! I have a barely used 13" base 2016 MacBook Pro and the "control" key stopped working last night. This pained me, as I use "CTRL TAB" often to switch tasks in Safari. I did some research and found a few threads folks got brand new MacBook Pro replacements due to keyboard issues.

They ran a test and determined the key was bad, then they took it away and said I'd get it back in 5-7 days. I inquired about a replacement and they told me that the Touch Bar model keyboards are too complex to repair, thus, they replace those computers outright. Mine can be fixed, but it has to be shipped out. As an AppleCare customer who relies heavily on his computer, I'm a little disappointed that I'll have to go without my brand new $1500 machine for the better part of a week.
 

jeyf

macrumors 68000
Jan 20, 2009
1,693
761
i had two keys fail and come back to life on my usbC 15" MBP. The keys failed and for no reason started to work the next day. The '7' and 'space' keys.
 

kjvmartin

macrumors regular
Original poster
Oct 11, 2016
168
176
Detroit
i had two keys fail and come back to life on my usbC 15" MBP. The keys failed and for no reason started to work the next day. The '7' and 'space' keys.
They tested mine, they have a diagnostic tool which required they press every key on the keyboard. The good keys turned green, the bad one turned some shade of grey/red. I gave it about 24 hours and a few hard reboots, but I figured I'd get ahead of the issue. Truth be known, if they gave me a new replacement I would probably ebay it. This computer has been wholly disappointing as my 4th Apple PC in about 12 years.
 

kjvmartin

macrumors regular
Original poster
Oct 11, 2016
168
176
Detroit
Always frustrating, at the least, to have to wait for repairs.
Indeed. As my 3rd MacBook Pro in a row that I've purchased w/AppleCare, it's the first one that has had a serious issue. Of course, it's still under warranty. I've always heard stories of Apple going above/beyond and out of their way to keep their customers happy, which is a large part of why I'd buy the extended coverage. They should have kept mine, repaired it, and used it s a refurb while letting me go with a new one. The goodwill that would have earned them would far outweigh what they just accomplished today in dealing with me.
 
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Sanpete

macrumors 68030
Nov 17, 2016
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Indeed. As my 3rd MacBook Pro in a row that I've purchased w/AppleCare, it's the first one that has had a serious issue. Of course, it's still under warranty. I've always heard stories of Apple going above/beyond and out of their way to keep their customers happy, which is a large part of why I'd buy the extended coverage. They should have kept mine, repaired it, and used it s a refurb while letting me go with a new one. The goodwill that would have earned them would far outweigh what they just accomplished today in dealing with me.
I imagine they've done the math on this. If they replace every machine that requires repair, that will be a lot of machines, so they have to balance that against upsetting customers. I think other brands do the same, and most lean further away from the customer than Apple. Still a pain.
 

hallux

macrumors 68030
Apr 25, 2012
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Sounds like this keyboard is not only flat, but also incredibly complex ... It doesn't feel like a smart design decision at all.
Not sure this circumstance is any different than the rMBP that needed the whole topcase replaced (which includes the battery, keyboard and trackpad in some cases) when the keyboard, battery or trackpad failed. It's not that it's "complex", it's just the way it gets repaired. The employee just explained it poorly.
 
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kjvmartin

macrumors regular
Original poster
Oct 11, 2016
168
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Detroit
Sounds like this keyboard is not only flat, but also incredibly complex ... It doesn't feel like a smart design decision at all.
I had been doing some unusually heavy computing during the past week which caused some very high heat. Wondering if somehow the heat melted something in the keyboard. It gets so warm. The control key itself is located over a battery module, I believe. I am plugged in 99% of the time. I can't really figure why it would fail. I'm on a 2 year old borrowed $149 Chromebook. This cost less than AppleCare did on the MBP. Starting to wonder if I've been a bit suckered by Apple. If this could get a slightly better display, this may satisfy most of my needs.
 

rutrack

macrumors regular
Jan 5, 2017
148
128
Not sure this circumstance is any different than the rMBP that needed the whole topcase replaced (which includes the battery, keyboard and trackpad in some cases) when the keyboard, battery or trackpad failed. It's not that it's "complex", it's just the way it gets repaired. The employee just explained it poorly.
You might be right, but it sounded like the keyboard cannot be parted from computer for replacement. My guess would be that replaced keyboards also fail frequently... Either way, from the posts here it looks like another common point of failure, which did not exist before.
 

Sanpete

macrumors 68030
Nov 17, 2016
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1,052
Utah
I had been doing some unusually heavy computing during the past week which caused some very high heat. Wondering if somehow the heat melted something in the keyboard.
Not melted, most likely, but heat does seem to affect the keyboard, at least in regard to some clicking sound irregularities some have found during and after heat.
 

burgman

macrumors 68020
Sep 24, 2013
2,053
1,530
Sounds like this keyboard is not only flat, but also incredibly complex ... It doesn't feel like a smart design decision at all.
I wonder if the ancient Greeks said the same thing about wheels when the axle broke
 

jamesrob

macrumors newbie
Jun 4, 2009
8
5
California Wine Country
Heads up! I have a barely used 13" base 2016 MacBook Pro and the "control" key stopped working last night. This pained me, as I use "CTRL TAB" often to switch tasks in Safari. I did some research and found a few threads folks got brand new MacBook Pro replacements due to keyboard issues.

They ran a test and determined the key was bad, then they took it away and said I'd get it back in 5-7 days. I inquired about a replacement and they told me that the Touch Bar model keyboards are too complex to repair, thus, they replace those computers outright. Mine can be fixed, but it has to be shipped out. As an AppleCare customer who relies heavily on his computer, I'm a little disappointed that I'll have to go without my brand new $1500 machine for the better part of a week.
Mine (15 inch Touch Bar model, 500 GB SSD, 8 GB RAM) began misbehaving yesterday morning. First clue was that my password was rejected, activating my conspiracy theorist gene ("I've been hacked by Donald Trump's minions!"). However, my Apple watch logged me in without problems, and then I noticed my laptop had become an existentialist, asking Hamlet's query, "to b or not to b." In other words, the "b" key had failed.

As others have reported, if I pounded the b key in an exaggerated fashion it would respond. And, if I opened a text editor and mashed the b key repetitively, it would transiently become more responsive, but the improvement wouldn't last.

Living within 100 miles of Cupertino, I'm blessed with dozens of Apple Retail stores within that same radius, but at my local store here in Santa Rosa, Genius Bar appointments were full for the next 3 days. So, I just walked into the store and told the check-in blue-shirt the same vapid "computer as existentialist" joke (my opposite triumph was walking into the Manhattan fast food legend (BRGR) just up the street from the Flat Iron Building and when asked what I wanted, replied "I'd like to buy a vowel."

After an hour wait once granted a Genius Bar stool, a very helpful staffer ran the same hardware electronics tests they always run, even though we both agreed it simply HAD to be a mechanical issue, not an electronic one), after which she ran the key-testing routine, then offered me the same "ship it in for repair by replacing the top assembly" route you were given. My wife accompanied me and made some firm pitches for on-the-spot replacement with a new machine, which they did not accede to. Their speculated turn-around was 3-5 days rather than 5-7. We'll see. The person waiting next to me suggested "they have a two week return for any reason policy; just buy another and return it when yours comes back." I didn't do that for several reasons:
  1. I still have a 15 inch 2013 Retina Display version that works
  2. If I "bought" (borrowed) a new machine with the intent of returning it, I'd need to spend hours on whole-disk encryption, loading enterprise software, etc., and if I did something unintentionally to the new machine I'd get stuck with the >$2K bill.
  3. When I returned it, legally I'd be obligated to wipe it before returning it (HIPAA).
At my wife's insistence, the store manager was recruited to talk with us. He reiterated Apple's policies regarding instantaneous replacement laptops (only if returned within 2 weeks of purchase; my problem didn't appear until more than 2 months of use).

It seems similar problems with this new keyboard mechanism are being reported by others. I hope my repaired machine will be more reliable.

I did learn that, as a business account customer, I could pay a $500 annual fee for access to "loaner" equipment any time Apple needs to send something away for repair. I passed on that for the same reasons as above, but yesterday's experience with my laptop will change my behavior as far as what to do when I replace something for reasons other than product failure - I'll keep the older generation machine myself as a backup!

I actually agree with the post currently at the end of this thread that states it's not fair to expect a new car if you get a flat tire, and in fact the comparison is apt in my own experience, because my "ultimate driving machine" brand favors those horrible "run flat tires" that are ridiculously expensive, often very rare in tire shops' inventories (I've had to have a Pirelli flown in from Italy!). On the other hand, Apple has extraordinarily liberal on-the-spot replacement policies for their iOS mega-success iPhone (while I waited, two people bracketing me transiently at the Genius repair were given their choice of a refurbished free replacement for their out-of-warranty last generation iPhone or a deep discount on an iPhone 7 or 7 Plus!). One of them had pretty impressive evidence of case-abuse. However, the Genius could just turn around and open one of several drawers, each packed with hundreds of refurbished iPhones i minimalist packaging, whereas I'd wager that their inventory of laptops is no where near as deep.
 

kjvmartin

macrumors regular
Original poster
Oct 11, 2016
168
176
Detroit
Interesting - thank you for your reply. They told me that they were unable to facilitate repairs on the 15" Touch Bar model, thus, those were replaced while my lowly 13" base model would be in the repair queue. One thing I forgot to mention in the OP - when I checked in at the Genius Bar, the Genius assigned to my table was very busy. They brought in a backup helper who tested my keyboard for 10 seconds, looked at the Genius and said "another golden ticket." I really felt like I'd be getting a new one after that remark. Perhaps they were making some inside reference to this prominent issue?

In the day/age of the Internet, if you give certain people better treatment and then change that treatment, you're going to alienate some customers. I went right home, (for the first time) added up my Apple products spending since I converted in 2004, and immediately began to question my brand loyalty. I could switch from Pages to Google Docs, load my photos into some other Cloud service, and call it a day much easier after this experience. This Chromebook I've been loaned was $149 and does quite well.
 

jamesrob

macrumors newbie
Jun 4, 2009
8
5
California Wine Country
They told me that they were unable to facilitate repairs on the 15" Touch Bar model, thus, those were replaced while my lowly 13" base model would be in the repair queue. One thing I forgot to mention in the OP - when I checked in at the Genius Bar, the Genius assigned to my table was very busy. They brought in a backup helper who tested my keyboard for 10 seconds, looked at the Genius and said "another golden ticket." I really felt like I'd be getting a new one after that remark. Perhaps they were making some inside reference to this prominent issue?
I had a bit of the same experience. I'd wager that a bit more "here's what we're doing now…" from the Genius Bar techs as they evaluate the situation would go a long way towards improving the customer's experience.
 

leman

macrumors G4
Oct 14, 2008
10,459
4,964
As an AppleCare customer who relies heavily on his computer, I'm a little disappointed that I'll have to go without my brand new $1500 machine for the better part of a week.
Yeah, thats very annoying, I agree. The problem is that the supply simply can't satisfy all the demand. Maybe Apple should introduce quotas on their laptops :)
 

kjvmartin

macrumors regular
Original poster
Oct 11, 2016
168
176
Detroit
Yeah, thats very annoying, I agree. The problem is that the supply simply can't satisfy all the demand. Maybe Apple should introduce quotas on their laptops :)
Also, they can't seemingly give them away at Best Buy or Micro Center despite heavy discounts & sales. Another anecdote, there's no line to play with the MBP at my local Apple Store. Just iOS shoppers and people asking about Air Pods =)
 

Sanpete

macrumors 68030
Nov 17, 2016
2,596
1,052
Utah
Sales have been good, though, according to the most recent report from Apple. The base 13" has been discounted since it came out, probably because it lacks the touch bar.
 

leman

macrumors G4
Oct 14, 2008
10,459
4,964
Fair enough guys, I guess my comment is a bit of outdated :) I remember there were reports of keyboard shortages back in December. Be is as it may, when we order machines though our supplier, it takes them on average a month to ship, so there clearly still are some bottlenecks.
 

ackmondual

macrumors 65816
Dec 23, 2014
1,048
313
U.S.A., Earth
Sales have been good, though, according to the most recent report from Apple. The base 13" has been discounted since it came out, probably because it lacks the touch bar.
One concern I've heard from my tech group was the 13" without touch bar has inferior specs. In other words, you can't just buy that, and get the same level of specs available with the 13" w/TB nor the 15" for that matter. You can't have the best of both worlds (no TB + specs). For them, they want physical function and Esc. keys.
 
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rutrack

macrumors regular
Jan 5, 2017
148
128
One concern I've heard from my tech group was the 13" without touch bar has inferior specs. In other words, you can't just buy that, and get the same level of specs available with the 13" w/TB nor the 15" for that matter. You can't have the best of both worlds (no TB + specs). For them, they want physical function and Esc. keys.
There is no successor to 2015 13" MacBook pro in that respect, it is true.
 
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kjvmartin

macrumors regular
Original poster
Oct 11, 2016
168
176
Detroit
One concern I've heard from my tech group was the 13" without touch bar has inferior specs. In other words, you can't just buy that, and get the same level of specs available with the 13" w/TB nor the 15" for that matter. You can't have the best of both worlds (no TB + specs). For them, they want physical function and Esc. keys.
It was just a few GHz faster. I got my 2016 non-tb for $1200. It would have been $1700 or so for the TB enabled version with just a few more GHz. Apple is getting a bit ridiculous. The technology to do all of this stuff is getting cheaper by the month, but their computers are getting more expensive. It can't go on forever like this. Someday, cell phones will be in the same boat.

kvjm
 

bhayes444

macrumors 6502a
Jul 13, 2013
772
291
It was just a few GHz faster. I got my 2016 non-tb for $1200. It would have been $1700 or so for the TB enabled version with just a few more GHz. Apple is getting a bit ridiculous. The technology to do all of this stuff is getting cheaper by the month, but their computers are getting more expensive. It can't go on forever like this. Someday, cell phones will be in the same boat.

kvjm
There's more to a processor comparison than just the clock speed at which they run. The nTB MBP uses a different class of processor than the TB MBP does, which is probably why the poster's friends were saying they couldn't get the same level of specs.
 
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