Apple’s butterfly keyboards have a problem. And the company has launched a repair program to address those concerns. Here is what you should know if you are planning to purchase a new MacBook with the butterfly keyboard.
Unfortunately, there appear to be limits to how many times you can get a MacBook repaired under that keyboard repair program. Notably, that is something that’s fairly unknown among the Apple community.
Here’s what you should know.
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- Troubleshooting Problems with Your Pre-2018 MacBook Pro Keyboard
According to a post they made back in October, Reddit user spgremlin brought recently their 2016 MacBook Pro in for service for the third time. Under the Apple keyboard replacement, the user’s first two repairs were completely free. As they should be.
But when the Redditor brought their MacBook Pro in a third time, the Genius Bar staff there told them it wasn’t covered under the repair program.
According to the post, the technician advised the Reddit user that the repair program has “limits” and refused to issue a replacement keyboard. (Which is, in fact, a replacement top case because the keyboard in embedded in it.)
Instead, they offered 50 percent off the estimated cost of the repair — which, as it’s worth noting, is $450.
This is the first time that we’ve seen reports of such a policy. That could suggest that it’s not actually a thing, or if it is, it confirms that it may be a new initiative.
Is this a policy?
It’s worth noting that it is not clear whether this is an actual Apple repair policy or simply a grumpy Genius Bar staffer who was having an off day.
As spgremlin notes in their post, there is virtually no public information about certain predefined limits on the keyboard repair program.
On the other hand, there may be an explanation for the “policy” in state laws. Many states across the U.S., and other countries outside of the U.S., have lemon laws.
Though they can vary wildly, most state lemon laws have a clause that requires a company to replace a computer completely after the third repair.
In other words, the third time’s the charm. If a company needs to replace a specific component twice, then state law requires the company that made the device to give the user a brand new one for free.
While we haven’t seen it in writing, there are also plenty of reports online that many Apple Stores also follow this procedure. If a user’s device needs a major a third time, Apple Stores are authorized to give the user a new device.
Other pertinent information
It’s also worth noting that, in an update to the original post, spgremlin gave a few additional details about their repair process.
The Apple Support member informed the Redditor that they submitted a request to replace the entire MacBook with a new model. Importantly, the Apple agent also apparently confirmed that the keyboard repair program actually does have limits.
But they advised the Redditor that another program would replace a user’s device after two or three major repairs. (This is likely the lemon law program that we were talking about.)
Interestingly, the Redditor added that Apple needed to build up a “case” for that replacement and get it approved.
Spgremlin also noted that the specific program is internal to Apple. They added that it’s discretionary, hasn’t been made public knowledge, and isn’t a guaranteed outcome.
Many users familiar with repairability may contest those particular criteria, however. Depending on where you live, local laws and regulations may require Apple replace your MacBook device after the third major repair. So it’s not “discretionary.”
Of course, Apple may have its own internal policy to replace a device after the third repair for locales where lemon laws don’t require it. In these cases, the policy would be completely up to Apple to follow.
Some tips if this happens to you
Apple’s butterfly keyboards are notoriously unreliable. Apple, as a reputable company, has an obligation to make it right for its users.
If the limits were actually company policy, then Apple really needs to make that explicitly clear for users. That’s especially true since needing a keyboard repaired multiple times appears to be a fairly common outcome for recent MacBook owners.
Because of that, we recommend contesting the Apple repair keyboard limits.
Here are some tips if a Genius Bar staff informs you that they can’t replace your butterfly keyboard for free.
- Look up your state or country’s local lemon laws. This will let you know whether you can make a case to get a new device or state law requires a replacement after a third attempt.
- Ask the Genius Bar staff where this policy is in writing.
- Request to speak to a supervisor.
- If all else fails at the Apple Store, consider taking your device to another location. That includes other Apple Stores or an Apple Authorized Service Provider.
- You may also want to contact Apple Support or Apple corporate and escalate the situation.
- Don’t give up on getting Apple to fix your device. Keep at it until Apple agrees to give you a new top case or a new MacBook.
We hope that you found this information helpful. Please let us know in the comments about your experiences with this repair program or any insights that you may have after using the Butterfly keyboard design.
Mike is a freelance journalist from San Diego, California.
While he primarily covers Apple and consumer technology, he has past experience writing about public safety, local government, and education for a variety of publications.
He’s worn quite a few hats in the journalism field, including writer, editor, and news designer.