It seems Apple is trying to screw me over with their "moisture indicator" Help!

Discussion in 'iPod' started by ChefEspeff, Mar 21, 2010.

  1. ChefEspeff macrumors newbie

    Mar 21, 2010
    Just today, completely randomly the right channel dropped out of my iPod. I read some stuff on the internet saying this happens often so I figured I could go in and easily get it replaced. When I went in the iPod "genius" said that it was due to water damage because the little indicator in the headphone jack turned red (which I can't even see so I'll ask someone else to check that again when I go back). I don't know what this could be from, I've never dropped my iPod in water or anything like that. It seems possible that natural condensation or something could have caused this.

    From my understanding if it was water damage the right channel would have shorted and would not work at all, which isn't the case. If I wiggle the jack I can get it working in both channels.

    What can I do to hopefully not have to buy a new iPod? I'm definitely going to try to talk to someone higher up to try and see if they will help me out but I wanted some reddit advice to help me plan my course of attack.
  2. txhockey9404 macrumors 6502a

    Feb 25, 2008
    I realize this isnt the most ethical advice, but it may work. Take a small enough piece of paper to fit into the headphone jack (a small circle), and push it down into the jack with something like a toothpick until it sticks. This may fool the genius at a quick glance as long as it doesn't fall out. I have heard of others using this trick, but I luckily have not had the opportunity to try it myself. Like I said, I don't really agree with the ethics of this action, but desperate times call for desperate measures...right?...right?
  3. Nintenmac macrumors newbie

    Feb 17, 2009
    Keep in mind, they have already seen a genius and said genius has put down on the applecare file, which is tied to the device's serial number, that the moisture indicator has been tripped so any other genius will see on the file that the warranty is void.

    OP, a friend of mine went to the genius bar with his 32 gb 3rd gen ipod touch and the moisture indicator was tripped and the genius offered to replace it for $150, rather than buying a new one for $300. I don't know if this is a policy or just a special case but you may want to try to angle for this.
  4. aristobrat macrumors G5

    Oct 14, 2005
    When you bring a broken iPod to the Genius Bar, they don't "fix it" there -- they swap it for another one (a refurb that has a new exterior and a new battery). They then take the good parts from your broken iPod and use it to make other refurbs. If you didn't have water damage, you should have been in and out in about 15 minutes.

    If your iPod has the moisture indicators tripped, then none of its parts are trusted to be "good parts". The entire thing is basically trashed (properly). The iPod is considered Out Of Warranty, and Apple offers you the ability to buy a like model for a cheaper price than buying a new one.

    Apple's website has easy instructions for checking for checking for liquid damage.

    You can recycle your old iPod and get 10% off the price of a new iPod (any model except the shuffle), or you can get an Out Of Warranty replacement (same model, generation, and size) for a price cheaper then buying a new one.

    Recycle doesn't require a Genius Bar appointment. The Out Of Warranty replacement does.

    You can call back and talk to the Lead Genius or a manager at the store, or you can call AppleCare. All of them have the power to bend the rules.
  5. ChefEspeff thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 21, 2010
    Do you work for Apple or something? You seem to be trained in the same ******** meandering that the iPod "genius" was so proficient at
  6. gnasher729 macrumors P6


    Nov 25, 2005
    Sounded quite reasonable to me what he said. There is also the widely reported fact that insurance claims for iPhones go up by forty percent each time a new model comes out, so when an iPod owner swears on his mother's life that the iPod has never been anywhere near any water doesn't mean it's true.
  7. nephilim7 macrumors regular

    Jun 13, 2008
    yeah... that 'meandering' is called 'reason' and 'logic'.

    you're about the 200th person this year that 'accidentally oopsie maybe did something stupid to his ipod/iphone', and came here looking for help like this forum is mommy and daddy.

    the fact is that you have a malfunctioning unit with a tripped water sensor.

    Combine that with a lack of ability to understand 'cause and effect', a pissy sense of entitlement, and toss in an unrealistic set of expectations regarding anyone here's ability to do anything about it and you have...

    random 'I broked it I want a new one' guy #4543433
  8. gnasher729 macrumors P6


    Nov 25, 2005
    Interesting pricing. So I can replace my brand new Nano 16 GB with video camera for £76 (45% less than a new one), but my four year old mini 4 GB would cost me £136!
  9. nastebu macrumors 6502

    May 5, 2008
    Geez, the reply you're so annoyed at was completely on point, thoughtful, and answered your question thoroughly. But because you only want to hear something that agrees with what you already think, you get pissy.

    If you aren't ready to hear answers you don't like, don't ask questions.
  10. ChefEspeff thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 21, 2010
    Sorry if my reply seemed pissy, to be fair I am pretty pissed at the moment. The fact of the matter is that water indicator can't possibly prove both cause and effect. I suppose there's nothing I can say to make you, or probably the Apple store believe me when I say that I have never damaged my iPod but it's just the truth. I've read various reports on the internet saying that this water indicator can go off without the iPod ever directly coming into contact with liquid, which is what happened to me.

    My problem with the post I replied to, and the Apple Genius them self was that I'm automatically assumed guilty, even though the physical evidence seems to suggest that water damage was not the cause of my problem. When I jiggle the headphone it miraculously works. Now, I don't have a degree in electrical engineering or anything, but with my understanding, water would most likely cause one of the channel connection points to short out cutting it off completely. I don't understand how water damage could cause this sort of effect.

    These water damage indicators seem like an unfair business practice by Apple. By putting it in such an open place, they can easily be tripped by natural condensation that will form when you take the iPod around outside and inside. Call me a conspiracy theorist but this seems like a favorable choice for them because now whenever there's a problem, even when it's not water damage they can just void your warranty if that little indicator happens to go off.
  11. NightStorm macrumors 68000

    Jan 26, 2006
    Whitehouse, OH
    You are a conspiracy theorist.

    Apple didn't invent the water damage indicators and they are no where near the only electronics manufacturer that uses them to spot abuse. The only difference here is that you were able to see the technician since Apple puts techs in their stores... usually you would have had to pay to ship it off to a distant location to have some random first-level support person take a look at it, have them charge you shipping to get it back to you still broken and requiring the full price to replace it.
  12. Chundles macrumors G4


    Jul 4, 2005
    Cause has nothing to do with it. The LSI has been tripped, indicating the presence of moisture and voiding the warranty.

    You may be able to plead your case to Apple but no service centre is going to repair an iPod with the LSI tripped as a warranty job.
  13. Lorenz0 macrumors regular

    Mar 12, 2009

    Oh boy. Thats a zinger.

    And a candidate for brutal factuality post of the month
  14. Rusalka macrumors regular


    Dec 8, 2008
    Northern Virginia
    Tell them to open it up and check the other indicators

    If it's only the headphone jack they should be able to replace it
  15. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere


    May 16, 2008
    A more accurate title for this thread would be:

    It seems Apple has successfully protected themselves from getting screwed over with their "moisture indicator"!
  16. dukebound85 macrumors P6


    Jul 17, 2005
    5045 feet above sea level
    whose to say your buddy didnt trip ot?

    i know i dont have my ipod on me at ALL times

    those sensore DO NOT just go off

    sooooo we have 2 cases
    1) you are lying
    2) someone spilt water on it at some point and tried to cover it up not informing you
  17. john123 macrumors 68020


    Jul 20, 2001
    Harsh thread. But I'm with the OP on this one (at least with respect to the perspective -- not NECESSARILY his situation), and unlike him, I don't have an axe to grind.

    I ran into the exact same issue late this past summer, about 2 months after I had bought my 3GS. I'm the sole owner, and there aren't any kids around, so I am 100% certain I know where the phone had and hadn't been. And I'm 100% certain it never got drenched, soaked, etc.

    Like the OP, I was stunned when the Genius said the moisture sensor had been tripped. He said it was "pinker" than most he sees, indicating that the moisture exposure was less than many, but that it was still clearly tripped. And he lent me the tool (basically a light + magnifying glass) he used to see the sensor, so I could see for myself.

    I was sort of dumbfounded with the guy. Basically, I said, "Yeah I don't know what to say. I can swear to you that I didn't get this thing wet, but I bet you get a lot of people who come in here every day who know damn well they did and just want a free replacement." I can't even describe the sort of sinking feeling you get knowing you have a legitimate complaint in an area where so many other people don't, but it's a feeling of helplessness. I felt worse because, as this was my first iPhone, I'd babied it. I refused to use it until I got a case and screen protector, I'd always carried it gingerly, and the couple times I had to carry it in the rain, I bent myself over like a hunchback to protect it from the prospect of any water getting on it.

    Like the OP, my problem was clearly not one that water damage ever would have caused. I had intermittent issues with people understanding me. Sometimes calls would be crystal clear, and others they would be garbled. It had been like this since day 1 of having the iPhone, and I simply hadn't gotten around to replacing it because I don't use it as a phone very much. (Learned my lesson!)

    Well, bottom line, I called Apple Support and spoke with a guy there. I explained the situation, explained I was 100% sure that it wasn't water damage, and he told me that if I sent it in, they'd investigate my claim. If they concluded that it had water damage (regardless of whether that was the cause of my issue or not), they'd charge me $199 -- if it didn't, then it would be a warranty replacement. I happily took him up on this, and bought AppleCare over the phone (since that enabled me to get free shipping to Apple).

    Well, turns out this fellow was wrong. That is *NOT* Apple policy. When you send it in, they just look at the sensor too. There is no effort to determine whether the unit has "damage" or not -- they don't even open it up right then and there. After another couple calls to Apple, I got a supervisor to make it right (because the conversation notes were right there in my case file and I'd been clearly misinformed), but it was an ordeal.

    The Genius I talked to said that he's heard of condensation from cupholders in cars possibly tripping the sensor, but as I told him, I don't put my iPhone in a cupholder. He also said that a group of Geniuses had tried to see what trips the sensor, and that they'd taken a phone (I assume a busted one) and dunked it in water until it turned, and that it took 30 seconds. As a result, they concluded that the sensor doesn't get tripped very easily at all.

    I have a theory, though, and this may be relevant to the OP: humidity. Do you live in a very humid climate? Or, more important, have you taken your iPhone with you into the bathroom when taking a shower? I had taken mine in a couple times (to answer business calls if it rang) with my old one, and I'd kept it out with me on vacation while at the beach (but never getting it wet). I haven't done either of these things with my new one, and its moisture sensor hasn't been tripped. I don't exactly wanna test my theory on my phone. :) But I have read people online complaining that they think humidity is the cause too.

    Anyway, TLDR: I am sure there are people who aren't trying to pull a fast one, because I was one of them. I guess I got luckier than most. It's a damn shame Apple puts these sensors in *externally accessible* areas as opposed to more internal ones (like behind the batteries, as is the case with more cell phones), although it's obvious why they have to do so with the iPhone device. Still, I'm sympathetic to those who have not damaged their device and are SOL.
  18. chown33 macrumors 604

    Aug 9, 2009
    Sailing beyond the sunset
    Water can lead to corrosion (among other effects). Corrosion can lead to open circuits or shorted circuits or both (it's unpredictable). Both opens and shorts can be intermittent, so wiggling improves the electrical contact, usually temporarily.

    Simply opening it up, cleaning it off, then resoldering the jack might fix it, if the damage isn't extensive. You'd have to do this yourself, or a friend who's an electronics hobbyist. You're out of warranty, so any informal repair isn't going to change that. However, a ham-handed attempt might break it completely.
  19. dmz macrumors regular


    Jan 29, 2007
    I'm an ex-genius, and I can tell you the sensors don't trip unless they are wet. And by wet, I mean immersed. Humidity will not set them off, and yes, Apple has tested these LSI (Liquid SUBMERSION Indicator - get it?) devices extensively. Neither does Apple manufacture theses LSIs, they are manufactured by 3M, and everybody uses the same LSIs as Apple. That's wht the Geniuses are so confident in the indicators - we know they don't lie, but people? meh, not so much.

    Even if you swear up and down that YOU didn't wet it, the fact is, unless you have your iPod/iPhone under constant scrutiny - how do you know it hasn't been wetted?

    Another point for all to keep in mind - whether you're visiting the Genius Bar or any other computer service shop - is that "you read it on the internet" is not an authoritative source. With over five million ipods and iphones out there, even a hundred cases would be insignificant, and you don't hear from the thousands of owners who have had their devices serviced without problem.

    Just because "you can't understand" why getting your iPod wet would be causing your problem, doesn't mean someone with a degree in electronic engineering wouldn't. Water has serious abilities to damage electronics, and electronics are at such a scale that even a small amount of moisture can cause a great deal of damage. And who's to say there isn't more damage beyond the headphone jack?

    The Genius is right, you are wrong - that's the way this cookie crumbles.

    They feel for you, but cannot get around the policy, which is a good one 999 times out of a thousand. The thousandth person is the one I truly feel for. It does seem that under the right circumstances, water could accidentally enter the headphone or docking connector and end up on that sensor in enough quantity and for long enough to set it off without doing any further damage. That is why the Geniuses have the flexibility to waive the LSI if no other indicators are tripped except the headphone jack. This is not done at the Genius Bar, but rather in the Genius Room, and the Genius will show you if the indicators inside are tripped. If they are, you are completely SOL, your iPod or iPhone has definitely been submersed. If not - you have a good case to plead to the Store Manager, Lead Genius, Genius Manager, or AppleCare.

    Good Luck

  20. Viantay macrumors newbie

    Feb 14, 2010
    Google it, you'll find lots of other cases

    There are lots of other people that have had this happen. Most other cell phone companies put the indicator on the inside of the phone(because it's easy to just pull the back case off and look under the battery). Well, the iphone isn't so easy to just pull apart so apple put this indicator in an easy to see place without taking anything apart. The problem with this is that small amounts of condensation(ex. sweat, while your talking on the phone after a workout) can drop down on the indicator and turn it pink. Those same small amounts of water/sweat won't change the indicator on any other phone because it's on the inside of the phone. I love Apple, but this one was a little unfair.

    My dad sent in his phone, they charged him for a new phone because of the water indicator, after talking with a supervisor they looked into it some more and gave him his money back.

    I understand there are thousands of people that do get their ipod/iphone wet and just try to lie about it, but there have also been many cases of people who really did not get it wet and this indicator says they did. There's got to be a better place to put this indicator.
  21. john123 macrumors 68020


    Jul 20, 2001
    I don't mean to be incendiary, but just because you're an ex-Genius doesn't make you right. See above for my story. I have zero incentive to lie or mislead anyone here. I got my replacement, at no charge, and my iPhone is working perfectly at the moment. I have no axe to grind.

    As for whether my iPhone was under "constant scrutiny" the answer is an emphatic, "yes, at all times, 24/7." When your phone is always in your pocket or sitting your bedside table, that's a luxury you have.

    I'd be interested to know what proof you have that exposure to severe humidity can't trip the sensor. If you or anyone else would like to send me a screen-cracked iPod for me to experiment with, I'll happily post pictures and an account of what happened here.

    Another theory that I've seen online more is use at the gym. This is probably more prevalent than humidity. Some have indicated that keeping it in a pocket when working up a sweat, or in particular putting it in an armband, can result in the sensor being tripped. I know that since I got my replacement, I make a point not to keep it in my hand for an extended period of time, or in my pocket if I'm doing cardio.

    Your claim that the sensors are accurate "999 times out of a thousand" isn't backed up by proof. You're right that the sensors are essentially the same ones used by other mobile devices, but nowhere in your post did you address the critical difference between Apple's and that of other devices: the external accessibility relative to other devices that put it behind the battery.

    Yes, lots of people engage in fraudulent behavior to avoid taking responsibility and paying for their mistake. Yes, some people are careless and unknowingly damage their device, such that the pleas that they think are honest really are honest mistakes. But I am 100% certain that there are instances where it's just flaky, and I haven't seen anything to suggest that the incidence of my case was 1 in 1000.

    Here's the kicker: there are 4 indicators on the iPhone! There are the two externally accessible ones (headphone jack, port) and there are two internal sensors. Unfortunately, Apple's policy is that tripping any one of these sensors is enough to declare your warranty invalid. They don't care if your two internal sensors aren't tripped.

    The ex-Genius who posted above me says that the Lead Genius has some discretion. That's completely at odds with what the final Apple rep -- a supervisor -- told me. So either official policy is changed or one of these people is confused.
  22. nephilim7 macrumors regular

    Jun 13, 2008
    I have 5 devices (I'm an iPhone dev). I take the scrubbier ones to the gym, I sit them next to hottubs, once a sauna. In bathroom while showering, etc. I have used them in the rain (seattle).

    not a single pink sensor in any of them. Curiosity got the better of me because I see these threads so much, when an older touch outlived it's usefulness and the battery was failing I had to see how much it took. 30 seconds is about right. Dunk.. offwhite. Enough to mess it up (left it on for yuks). 10 seconds. You could tell the color was off. 30 was pink and 1 minute was red.

    so yeah, as adamantly as you call 'shenanigans' I call total BS. No sympathy.. tired of subsidizing 'dumb' in the way of higher prices because of people that don't care enough about their belongings.
  23. ChefEspeff thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 21, 2010
    I think dunking would actually be pretty unlikely to set off the sensor if it was just under for a few seconds. Because the hole is relatively small and there is only one way for air to get out it is very likely that an air bubble would get trapped in the jack. The surface tension of water would probably keep this bubble there for a few seconds until eventually it escaped and the water would flow in, setting off the sensor.

    I don't really get why people think I would lie here. I can understand thinking that I would lie to the iPod "genius" (I'm really getting tired of that word) but there isn't really an incentive to lie to a bunch of random people on a forum.

    I suppose you might think that I am lying to get advice on how to sneak through the system and get a free iPod but I'm not even necessarily looking for a way to bypass the system altogether, I would be fine with getting the Apple store to actually take a look at my iPod to see that this wasn't caused by water damage.
  24. john123 macrumors 68020


    Jul 20, 2001
    Fair enough if you want to say this to the OP, but since I have no axe to grind, I'd love to know what your response to me is. I have better things to focus on a random thread and act contrary.

    Yet another possibility might be differing levels of tolerance or sensitivity of various sensors, although that strikes me as unlikely in any significant way.

    No matter what, just because you can't explain or prove it doesn't make it not true.
  25. dmz macrumors regular


    Jan 29, 2007
    3Ms product literature. The LSI's will indicate a slight pink tint after 7 days of exposure to 95% humidity at 55ºC. Not red, but very slightly pink. Guess what? That's way outside of Apple's operating specs for the iPhone - your warranty is void either way.

    Now, magically, you know Apple's policy? Your next statement proves you do not - as any Apple Genius has the discretion required to make this call - but if he/she is not willing to make the call, any of the others can.

    As I said, I do feel for anyone who has to learn this lesson the hard way, but to papraphrase Eddy from Lost World, "Technology and water... not good bedfellows..."

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