Talked w/ an Apple employee about MacBook discoloration.

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by klb028, Jun 3, 2007.

  1. klb028 macrumors 6502

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    #1
    Today, I went into my local Apple store to have a final look-around and talk with some of the people their about the computers and such before I buy. Before I left, one of the things I asked the guy who had been helping me was, "By the way, have you had a lot of people come in about the discoloration on the trackpad and such on these things (referring to white MacBook)?" He looked at me with complete confusion! His exact words were, "I've never even heard of that. Let me talk to one of our so-and-so people (can't remember what he called them) over here about it." I had told him about my friend's major discoloration problems and how he's had his "area" replaced twice already because of it, for free. He seemed like he could've been new. He came back and said, "Okay, actually, they informed me when the first ones came out a year or so ago they had that problem. It was only about 700 of laptops, though. They have since fixed the problem and the discoloration should definitely not be an issue anymore. But, if you have some problems in the future with yours, regarding that, they won't mind replacing anything that they feel wasn't intentionally done, you know? You won't need AppleCare for that either, in case you're wondering."

    I'm not sure if what he was saying was true or not, but I figured since everyone's been so helpful here towards me in my situations, I'd give something back. :) I just wanted to let everyone in on what someone told me today at the Apple store. Has anyone else heard the same response?
     
  2. Kermit the frog macrumors regular

    Kermit the frog

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    #2
    Yeah I've also mentioned something similer to an apple employee and they always play stupid with me. I know if I worked for apple I would take people cares and concerns
     
  3. samh004 macrumors 68020

    samh004

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    #3
    As long as it's within a year right, though ;)

    I'm hoping the issue hasgone now too, as my mum is going to be ordering a MacBook very shortly, so I don't want thereto be little issues like that, making the purchase look bad.
     
  4. Kermit the frog macrumors regular

    Kermit the frog

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  5. chipchen macrumors 6502

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    #5
    The discoloration was indeed mainly the early iterations of the white macbooks. It was, however, much more than just 700.

    It was mainly due to the type of plastic used in consctruction. It was a bit more porous (did I spell that right)... and thus, trapped more dirt and gunk. They were revised the a slightly different plastic (or process).

    HOWEVER, all things white will get dirty. And all plastics, will yellow and wear a bit. That's the nature.

    If you have a white MacBook (or iBook)... Mr. Clean Magic Eraser is your friend.
     
  6. samh004 macrumors 68020

    samh004

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    #6
    Maybe he missed a zero.
     
  7. chipchen macrumors 6502

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    #7
    Yea.. or two.
     
  8. Mord macrumors G4

    Mord

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    #8
    mine's discoloured, I just can't seem to care.
     
  9. Igantius macrumors 65816

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    #9
    I would be disinclined to believe the 700 number of problem units he cited – in my professional dealings with Apple (writing on a freelance and staff basis for Mac mags), the company doesn’t normally give official numbers on this kind of thing.

    Otherwise, the info he gave you is spot on and as per what’s on Apple’s support side. However, despite what Apple says, users are still reporting this problem, albeit on a far, far smaller scale.

    Although the discoloration problem has been discussed loudly on many a forum, I would argue it’s not as widespread as those threads suggest. If they were, the story would most probably have been picked up by mainstream media (as in the case of iPod battery life). Also, although excellent sites like Macintouch had readers writing complaining about this problem, but not in their droves - in the case of Macintosh, its readers’ report section for MacBooks doesn’t even have a dedicated thread for the discoloration problem. Not that is going to be much consolation to your friend!


    Customer feedback does seem to vary between store and employees, which is a shame.

    What katielb outlined what that an Apple Store employee being asked a question to which they replied, that they didn’t know the answer but would go and find out the answer. The employee came back with a full and complete answer that was according to Apple’s official line and added that you wouldn’t need to buy extra warranty (i.e. Applecare) in order to get a replacement if this problem happened.

    Personally, that sounds good customer service to me and something the employees you’ve spoken to could pay heed to!
     
  10. heySparky macrumors regular

    heySparky

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    #10
    The area where my right wrist rests on mine also became discolored, but the part they replaced it with hasn't and it has been almost 1 year. The part was replaced free.

    I agree, it was only in the first run of the MB CD, but I'm sure the number was considerably higher than 700.
     
  11. klb028 thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #11
    Okay, all of this information is good to know. I had no idea it was mainly with the earlier MBs. I thought the current ones were still having issues.
     
  12. mrkramer macrumors 603

    mrkramer

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    #12
    The 700 could be at that store, I don't know how populated of an area you are in, that seems high for one store. From what i can tell by reading the forums the problems are mostly fixed, it will yellow eventually, but it shouldn't be as bad, or happen as quickly.
     
  13. chipchen macrumors 6502

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    #13
    And now you know. And knowing is half the battle.
     
  14. Igantius macrumors 65816

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    #14
    It’s rather unlikely that an employee would say that they’ve never heard of a particular problem, go ask a colleague and then come back and say actually 700 laptops have been returned because of that problem to that store alone. :p

    As for the problem itself, some users reported that the discoloration happened very quickly or it took much longer – one poster I read bought a MB each for his daughters (what a dad!), after a year one unit got discoloured, the other looked as pristine as the day it came out of the box.

    It was the production process for the first revision (or that was what was claimed anyway!) that caused this problem.

    You are right, however, that this issue does still exist (e.g. I’ve read one or two reader report on Macintouch v recently), so it is happening albeit on a much smaller scale. Given how spectacular the MB sales have been, if this problem dogged a significant proportion of MacBook users, we would have heard a lot lot more about it.

    Basically, I would say don’t worry about it. If – and this is a very big if – you’ll be able to get it fixed by Apple. Also, you could get a Moshi palmrest/trackpad guard for a bit of extra protection, which I’m going to splash out on as the reports here have been so positive here.
     
  15. berkleeboy210 macrumors 68000

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    #15
    I have one of the latest models of the MacBook, 2ghz C2D, the update before the latest update if that makes sense.

    And I'm about to take mine in again to have the case replaced b/c of discoloration.

    I had it done about a month and a half ago, and it seems to be back again in the same spots.

    How many times will they do this before they just give in and give me a new comp? Or would they ever do that?
     
  16. chipchen macrumors 6502

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    #16
    Is that your goal?

    White by nature, gets dirty. The discoloration was due to the type of plastic manufacturing process they used that allowed for the plastic to "absorb" more dirt. It doesn't just get discolored on it's own. I'm sure there are many people out there who (maybe a bit OCD) wash their hands everytime before using their computer, and thus, don't have this issue.

    Take the iBooks for example. Have you seen how gross some of those can get? That's not a manufacturer's defect... that's a dirty ibook... owned by a not so clean person.

    If you really love using your MacBook... go to the supermarket, walk into the cleaning aisle, and buy a box of Mr. Clean Magic Erasers. Use that to clean your MacBook instead of trying to get at Apple for a new computer. Because if everyone thought like you, Apple wouldn't find it worthwhile to make these things.
     
  17. Igantius macrumors 65816

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    #17
    All the user reports I've read is that they'll replace the affected case parts but that's it. It may not be much consolation, but most people said the problem did not reoccur, unluckily folk needed to get it replaced two or three times. Therefore, I don't think it's likely they'll replace the whole machine.

    I'm assuming that this is just affecting the palmrest. You could also try a palmguard - like chipchen says the machine is goning to pick up dirt, and the palmguards are easier to clean.
     
  18. Igantius macrumors 65816

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    #18
    I believe the problem stems from the plastic (I also believe that Apple has switched suppliers) reacting to oil produced by the skin - the only way to prevent it is placing a barrier between the skin and the plastic. But if you don't wash much, you're right, it's going going to be mighty grubby anyway!
     
  19. chipchen macrumors 6502

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    #19
    Yea... it was the manufacturing process... but not likely a supplier error.

    Apple likes to experiment with different processes. I'll bet $10 that Jonathan Ive like the feel and texture of that process and went with it. Obviously, they test the machines, but something you need time to tell... as with this problem.

    This also happened with the white spots. Apple put little pads behind the LCD to make that part stronger and not curve in too much (the LCD cover that is). But it basically backfired and started pressing against the LCD, thus causing the white spots.
     
  20. MagicUK macrumors regular

    MagicUK

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    #20
    My response would have been great Mr/Ms Sales Person. Now if you would just write all of that down and sign it at the bottom.....
     
  21. Igantius macrumors 65816

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    #21
    Absolutely – I had forgotten about the spot problem, another good example.

    Although problem was certainly a manufacturing one, I’m pretty sure Apple did change their supplier - but not 100% - whether this decision was to do with this problem, I wouldn’t like to say.
     
  22. xpovos macrumors 6502a

    xpovos

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    Tennessee
    #22
    If the number of affected laptops had only been 700, Apple would never have acknowledged the problem as they did on their Web site. The fact of Apple's acknowledgement of the issue points to a rather widespread defect rate. Like many companies, and perhaps more than most, Apple prefers to save money by either completely ignoring or quietly fixing issues like that, particularly if the issue poses no health risk.

    You can't blame them, really. For one thing, if they were to acknowledge a problem that wasn't affecting a majority of units, you would have droves of obsessive-compulsives (no foul intended, I'm one such obsessive-compulsive---at least when it comes to my computers) "seeing" the problem when it really wasn't there. For example, maybe the oils from someone's hands caused a temporary discoloration that could be easily cleaned off, but instead they take it to the Genius Bar. (It wasn't me, I promise, but I was at a Genius Bar when someone next to me did that very thing. The Genius took an alcohol swab and wiped the palm rests clean within about 60 seconds.)

    As for Apple Store employees and sometimes even the Geniuses, I'm amazed at how many fairly widespread problems catch them totally by surprise. They act like they've never heard of a warped lid on a MacBook Pro, or whatever.
     
  23. shipdestroyer macrumors 6502

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    #23
    Lately, my CD Macbook purchased around September has been having some palmrest discoloration. After softly polishing with a slightly damp Magic Eraser, the palmrest was back to normal.
     
  24. Igantius macrumors 65816

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    #24
    I don’t think anyone was really believed that only 700 units were affected. My guess is that the store/employees thought it would be a good number to use; they’re not denying there’s a problem, but are basically saying ‘odds are, it ain’t gonna happen to you, but if it does, we’ll fix it for you.’

    These MBs have been big big sellers for Apple and if this was/is a really really widespread defect, a lot more people would know about it. It would have been have been picked up by the mainstream press, for one thing.

    Your point about if a company draws attention to a problem, then more people will see it, whether or not their purchase, is an excellent one. Also, following on from that, such a move would tarnish the Apple brand to far more people than those affected.

    As for the employees, well to err is human
     
  25. khunsanook macrumors 6502

    khunsanook

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    #25
    When I had my core duo MB serviced for random shutdowns back in October, Apple replaced the topcase/keyboard area as well (without me asking), but they did not replace the screen bezel plastic. The new topcase plastic cleans up perfectly with a mr. clean magic eraser. the old screen bezel plastic absorbs any dirt that gets on it and completely refuses to get clean. The two plastics are NOTICEABLY different. The old plastic seems more rubbery than the new topcase which is hard and more "brittle". There's absolutely no question that there was a problem with some of the plastics early on. 5 out of the 6 people I know who bought these first revision white MB's had the same discoloration but have not had any problems since the new plastic was installed.
     

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