MacBook Pro owner beats Apple in court over faulty 8600M GT

By on April 20, 2012, 8:00 AM

In an inspiring tale, one Seattle blogger recently defeated America's most valuable tech company in court with little more than wit and determination. A few years ago, Apple (like many other system makers) shipped notebooks with defective Nvidia graphics processors. MacBook Pros with a GeForce 8600M GT were among the affected units, and Apple promised to repair busted machines free of charge for up to four years.

Seattle Rex, the aforementioned blogger, tried taking advantage of the free repair when his $4,000 MacBook Pro failed, but Apple refused service because the notebook wouldn't boot, so it couldn't confirm Nvidia's GPU was to blame (even though this is a symptom of the faulty chip in question). Annoyed, Rex filed a complaint with the BBB, but Apple lied about running diagnostics on the system to have the case closed.

After receiving a cold shoulder from Apple's Executive Customer Service, Rex threatened to sue. It's fairly uncommon for large companies to appear in small claims court because the stakes simply aren't high enough. It costs more in legal representation than the damages involved, so most such cases are settled outside court. Of course, when you have $100 billion under your mattress, you can afford to defy logic a little.

And so Apple did. The company sent not one lawyer to manhandle Rex, but two, and they were in direct contact with a legal team via cell phone. Despite being heavily outgunned, Rex tried solving the dispute in private mediation, but that didn't pan out so the case went before a judge. From there, Rex's account of the trial depicts Apple as a merciless scoundrel hellbent on crushing the little guy out of spite, no matter the cost.

Fortunately for Rex, money can't buy the truth. At best, it can be distorted, but apparently Apple's muscle wasn't very good at that. In their opening statement, the lawyers tried having the case dismissed because Rex's CPU runs at 2.6GHz instead of 2.4 or 2.5GHz, suggesting his system doesn't qualify for free repair. However, he bought the machine with that configuration and it has nothing to do with Nvidia's GPU anyway.

"You see, when I ordered my MacBook Pro, I paid about $300 extra for them to up-clock the chip from 2.5Ghz to 2.6Ghz. Yes, it was a classic Apple ripoff, and yes, I was dumb to order it, but I did it, mea culpa. I had absolutely no idea that it would be used against me in a court of law...Perhaps, despite everything, I am still a bit naive, because not even I expected Apple to just…lie. At least not in such a silly manner," he wrote.

After explaining everything, Rex forced Apple to admit his notebook is, in fact, warrantied. "So, there we were. Not more than two minutes into the trial, and Apple conceded to trying to hoodwink the judge," he said. "This is more or less the way the rest of the trial played out. I made a point, Apple rebutted it with something completely off-the-wall and irrelevant, and I explained to the judge why Apple's rebuttal was nonsense."

Impressed with Rex's knowledge, the judge deemed him an "expert witness." He was awarded with enough cash to replace is 17-inch notebook, plus court costs, costs of service and so on. Although he's happy with the outcome, Rex is concerned Apple won't pony up. The kicker, he reckons, is that Apple wouldn't even have had to pay for repairing his notebook. Nvidia foots the bill, so Apple is being a jerk for no reason.

"In addition, instead of paying nothing for the repair, they paid a legal team to oversee the case, and, oh yeah…you guys, the shareholders, are buying me a new computer too. Thanks. As far as I can tell, Apple spent all of this time and money, solely to be a bully. Was that really money well-spent? I mean, you can almost excuse the holy wars against Adobe, Samsung, Android, and the prototype guys…but a local blogger?"

Rex's experience is far from unique, it seems. Since publishing his article, he's received "scores" of emails from people who've also been denied free repairs under the same pretense (their systems aren't eligible because they doesn't boot -- but they don't boot because of the flawed component). He is looking into filing a class-action suit against Apple for fraud, misrepresentation and so on, but there are no details on that yet.




User Comments: 47

Got something to say? Post a comment
Guest said:

Thanks for this..

I'm an apple user and it's nice to know that the company has typical corporate america values too...

they've been put on a pedestal by users,, but the bottom line is $$...and screw the consumer..

pgbsamurai said:

Yay for the little guy!

Guest said:

I am an Apple user, and love the products. Have never had one fail (yet). However, it's nice to know what kind of company they are, should I ever have to deal with this.

I wonder if Apple changed after Steve Jobs passed away, or have they always been this ruthless?

Guest said:

Steve created this ruthlessness.

Guest said:

Pretty dumb! Why sue Apple? Their products are the best in the universe and they can't ship something that is defective. You have yourself to blame, maybe you charged your MacBook Pro from a power outlet that was used to charge an Android device. You should have tried other options; did you try placing the Netbook with the screen facing south-west?

Guest said:

As stated in the article, someone part of the iCry crowd took "advantage" of Apple. Just some guy abusing the courts...

Guest said:

Arrogant Apple user's got no idea what they agreeing to in the terms & conditions

Apple a big rip off and most of the people are brain wasted or no brainer at all considering you have to pay high premiums

Also paying extra for all the minor upgrades e.g. memory/ HDD and so on

With the addons to connect you devices to other components which also cost extra

Serve them right when there fancy expensive tech goes wrong and Apple would not honour there side of the deal

MilwaukeeMike said:

The kicker, he reckons, is that Apple wouldn't even have had to pay for repairing his notebook. Nvidia foots the bill, so Apple is being a jerk for no reason.

This doesn't smell right.... no one is ever a 'jerk for no reason'. We're hearing this story from Seattle Rex... we're not getting both sides. He's a blogger and I'll bet he has said some things on his blog that have offended Apple. There's a bigger reason here why Apple wouldn't replace this dude's PC. Especially since it's such an obvious warranty case.

I'm glad he won, it certainly sounds like he's right, but I'd like the whole story on why this went so far. If Apple was willing to spend more to deny this guy a PC than to give him one, then there's something else going on.

Guest said:

$4000 in the hole is why he went so far. You gonna let someone shaft you for 4 Grand?

Guest said:

You were wonderin if this is a change after Steve Jobs' death, but after reading his biography I would have to say this is just a perpepuation of Jobs' attitude.

Guest said:

Some maneger did a big boo boo.

The bad publicety isnt worth it

A little kid with some what of power and this kind of mistakes happen

Sry about my english im isreali and can not be boderd with mistake fixer:)

Staff
Julio Franco Julio Franco, TechSpot Editor, said:

I had the exact same problem a year ago. Defective Nvidia GPU that did the rounds on nearly every big brand notebook sold around 2008. My local Apple store refused to offer extended guarantee due to a defect, but I happened to travel to San Francisco that same month. I took my dead laptop with me and they replaced all the internals in 24 hours. Obviously my tale ended with a happier ending.

Staff
Jos Jos said:

I've never had an Apple product fail on me (yet) but I've heard a handful of good customer service stories from close friends who had a faulty Apple product replaced in-store after a quick check. In all cases they didn't have AppleCare but were still under the regular 12 month warranty period.

As MilwaukeeMike said, it seems odd that they would go through all this trouble considering Nvidia had already acknowledged the GPU issue and was footing the bill. Anyway, if that's all there is to it and Apple was acting out of spite, good on him for putting up a fight and making the story public.

killeriii said:

Guest said:

"Also paying extra for all the minor upgrades e.g. memory/ HDD and so on"

Are these things free in your world?

Guest said:

Take your money and buy something other then a Mac this time!!! This is just another reason why I'll NEVER buy anything from Apple.

Guest said:

I know for a FACT my upgrades don't cost the extra premiums Apple charges there loyal customer

:-p

m4a4 m4a4 said:

If anyone wants proof that apple could care less about their customers, here it is...

Guest said:

An uptick in speed from 2.5 to2.6 is free in anyones world it's called overclock. Not quite what I would call a $300.00 upgrade.

RubinOnRye RubinOnRye said:

I am an Apple user, and love the products. Have never had one fail (yet). However, it's nice to know what kind of company they are, should I ever have to deal with this.

I wonder if Apple changed after Steve Jobs passed away, or have they always been this ruthless?

Always been like this. I hated working as a Genius only because the manager use to ask me to lie all the time just to make the customer spend more money to get a new one.

RubinOnRye RubinOnRye said:

Guest said:

"Also paying extra for all the minor upgrades e.g. memory/ HDD and so on"

Are these things free in your world?

No there not free but they also don't cost $200. You want 8gig of ram on your macbook pro, it's going to cost you an additional $200. Want it on your PC, its $40. Same RAM and speed just one is apple only and other works on all machines but apple. Don't believe me, go to apple's site and select a macbook pro and upgrade it to 8 gigs.

Guest said:

This doesn't smell right.... no one is ever a 'jerk for no reason'. We're hearing this story from Seattle Rex... we're not getting both sides. He's a blogger and I'll bet he has said some things on his blog that have offended Apple. There's a bigger reason here why Apple wouldn't replace this dude's PC. Especially since it's such an obvious warranty case.

Yes it doesn't smell right you are correct in that, i think the part where Apple wanted to "hoodwink" the judge with misinformation was what you are really talking about.

"So, there we were. Not more than two minutes into the trial, and Apple conceded to trying to hoodwink the judge."

As for both sides maybe Apple are still in denial and won't release a statement or will ask for the court transcripts to be blocked?

There is no big reason explain one reason a commpany would be hell bent on defrauding one consumer i can say why imho they don't want a class action lawsuit and used this as a test case in hope others would be bullied out of following up with the defective chips they sold. It is jsut a sad simple truth of apples philosophy to sue and counter sue or put road blocks and misinformation where they can they are the kings of marketing and marketing requires a certain amount of bending the truth to suit your product.

Way to go Apple become a RIAA and stop innovating and keep litigating, it worked well for RIAA so far right..

killeriii said:

Guest said:

"Also paying extra for all the minor upgrades e.g. memory/ HDD and so on"

Are these things free in your world?

No there not free but they also don't cost $200. You want 8gig of ram on your macbook pro, it's going to cost you an additional $200. Want it on your PC, its $40. Same RAM and speed just one is apple only and other works on all machines but apple. Don't believe me, go to apple's site and select a macbook pro and upgrade it to 8 gigs.

I agree that they charge too much, but it does cost.

Take your computer to a local shop and have them upgrade the memory for you. I'll bet it's more than just $40.

An uptick in speed from 2.5 to2.6 is free in anyones world it's called overclock. Not quite what I would call a $300.00 upgrade.

Same goes for the $300 overclock. The janitor at Apple probably can't do that. So they pay a technician to do it. That costs money (even if it is a 10 min job). Plus it has to be pulled from the assembly line. Little extra for warranty as well (oc will void the intel warranty).

Apple charges a bit much imo, but we're not all Technically inclined.

Besides, go check how much a top end Falcon Northwest is. Makes your head spin.

Staff
Rick Rick, TechSpot Staff, said:

I've dealt with Apple on a few dozen occasions, returning systems for warranty repairs etc.. Overall, I've been impressed. On a few occasions, they've even made out-of-warranty exceptions for me, including problems arising from blatant physical abuse.

Maybe I'm a smooth talker (not likely), but they've provided better care than any other computer company I've dealt with. Trying to do the same thing with HP, Dell, Sony, Gateway etc.. is like squeezing water from a rock.

It's probably worth mentioning that 95% of my dealings have been over the phone with the national service number -- not at an Apple store or genius bar.

Guest said:

Guest said:

"Also paying extra for all the minor upgrades e.g. memory/ HDD and so on"

Are these things free in your world?

Paying and paying "extra" are two different meaning. Go back to school.

killeriii said:

Guest said:

"Also paying extra for all the minor upgrades e.g. memory/ HDD and so on"

Are these things free in your world?

Paying and paying "extra" are two different meaning. Go back to school.

You sounded like you were implying they should be free.

ie:

I bought an ice cream cone and had to pay "extra" for the chocolate topping.

Guest said:

Thank god Apple is not trendy at all anymore; what a ridiculous company.

Guest said:

Even better, any kind of ram is compatible with apple's ram...yeah the $40 one too.

Guest said:

Shame on Apple, they should be looking after their customers not trying to shaft them.

Night Hacker Night Hacker said:

And this is why I use a PC (built myself) and not Apple.

Guest said:

Ok apple is the rip of and microsoft isnt with the $400 software that you can use to buy a whole laptop.

Guest said:

Maybe it's a matter of "No, we decided he wasn't going to receive a repair, and we *meant* it."

Everybody who's saying "Hey, we've all had an *awesome* experience when we've had to bring back a defective product," is telling the truth---until that one time Apple tells them "No" and they may or may not have an actual defective product as the man in the article did.

It seems to boil down to "We're not going to give him a repair" and the guy says "Yes you are" to which Apple responds "No, you're not, and don't contest it" while secretly thinking to themselves ("Hm, we said "No," if this guy wins his case, then we'll have to actually do it, and if that happens and other customers see us actually being *wrong*, then our "No" won't mean so much anymore and anybody will be able to contest our decision in open court and we may actually have to fix a *lot* of computers or something under warranty against our will.")

Which sounds like a dangerous precedent for a company who is heralded by their stock-holders and consumers alike for being visionary, "Gods-amongst-mortals"-level developers who believe themselves to be above questioning anymore. Ya' know, egotistical show-boaters.

Guest said:

Build your own PC for $2,000 and get more than twice the power of that $4,000 Mac.

Guest said:

You're right, there was a reason they did it- and it wasn't some secret reason like the blogger pissed them off. It was to squash him like a bug so no one else that has been shafted out of repairs (by the 800 number Apple support guys following the scripts which are designed to do just that) get's the idea they can do the same thing.

Guest said:

Ok apple is the rip of and microsoft isnt with the $400 software that you can use to buy a whole laptop.

At least you get a laptop that has current tech for a decent price aven after you add $400.

With a Macbook you get last years tech for $400 more than it's worth. Unless you want to spend $2500, then you will get the same tech as $1000 PC. But with a smaller hard drive and 4 gigs of memory- and really smooth lines. I guess that really does make it worth it. lol

If Microsoft is a ripoff, what does that make these guys?

And which software do you have to have that costs $400 again? Sounds like you don't know how to shop very well.

Guest said:

And the Apple sheep come out of the woodwork to apologize and spin like the best paid marketers. Apple have gotten smacked down in Europe for not communicating their legal obligated warranty lengths, and are getting smacked down in Australia for advertising a 4G capability that isn't. Only the faithful sheep think they're immune, and when they aren't (as in the Nvidia bumpgate fiasco right here) the rest of the sheep pile scorn on anyone that dare defile their perfect brand or even worse, their greedy, selfish messiah.

Twixtea said:

I'm sorry for those who buy apple notebooks.

4k $$$ for mac, seriously just pay 2k and buy from a real manufacturer like MSI or ASUS.

1 person liked this | Guest said:

Well done to Rex for winning his case against Apple.

I run a UK forum dedicated to this very problem and I see bully boy tactics like this all the time.

Some retailers seem to care more about their own profits and let their customers proceed as far as the Small Claims Courts rather than settle a claim for an inherently defective laptop.

Having been involved with the Nvidia defect for over three years now I can safely say that this problem is affecting far more models of laptop than the manufacturers would like you to believe.

Aside from the defective Nvidia GPU's that were manufactured there is another problem raising its ugly head and this is to do with the BGA (Ball Grid Array) that bonds the GPU to the mainboard.

Due to ROHS regulations (Restriction Of Hazardous Substances) manufacturers have had to remove certain metals from their products.

These metals include mercury, cadmium and, most importantly, lead. It is as a direct result of the removal of the lead from the lead based solder that there are failures occurring, in huge numbers, in laptops containing ATI GPU's and other Nvidia GPU's.

The HP 6735s is one such model affected by this defect and there are many more.

What amazes me is that repairs are being carried out to these products by the manufacturers when there can be no real guarantee's that the replacement parts will not also be inherently defective.

Try asking for a written guarantee, when offered a repair, that the parts to be used will be free from the defect. You can bet that the retailer or manufacturer will refuse such a request.

It is my opinion that we are only at the bottom of a very big iceberg of failures yet to occur.

Simply Google "Nvidia defect forum" (no quotes) for more information.

Well done again to rex. :)

Best wishes

Paul

The Nvidia Defect Forum

Marnomancer Marnomancer said:

You know, this is why I prefer DIY builds. I've come to despise nearly all OEM companies as such. When I start my own company (hopefully), I'll keep that in mind, for ethical reasons, and to remain good in the eye of the tech-community.

But as a footnote, I never found Apple to be a "jerk"...in fact, the customer support is quite good. Or maybe it's because I'm answered by a girl with a charming voice.

And, we're only hearing one part of the story, i.e., Rex's. Maybe the whole case isn't what it seems to be.

Guest said:

I've been a tech for over 20 years and this seems to be the norm. Not just for Apple but for Toshiba and Sony as well over the years. I'll bet Steve is turning over in his grave.

Guest said:

Maybe you were holding it wrong.

tekman42 said:

I've never owned a Mac..Don't intend to break that streak...ever!

I build all my own desktops and I bought a Dell Vostro from their outlet store 3 years ago...never had a problem I didn't create...read...I had to replace the keyboard and hdd due to a "high frustration" moment and pounded on the keyboard thus breaking several keys and irreparably damaging the hdd so it wasn't bootable. MY FAULT and lesson learned and had to learn how to disassemble a Vostro 1520....so now I replace heatsink thermal paste and gpu thermal paste every 6 months to a year and the machine is stable, rock solid, and does all I need it to do at about 1/8 th of the price you gave for that $4000 dollar Mac with the added bonus of being able to repair it myself for cheap.

No issues with service from DELL...have service code...and I LOVE windows...don't use ipod...iphone...imac...or anything else apple including appletalk or quicktime!

I've used a couple for experience at school but that's it....If I want to get some work done...I fire up my laptop or desktop...enjoy the windows boot and logo...and off I go in word....excel....access...or adobe.

Roughly 90% of all software and hardware is run on some version of windows...makes for the most availibility and compatibility.

I like Microsoft and I like windows..except windows 8...I've seen all those carrying on about a new O/S every couple of years....that occurs because of compatiblity with current code writers...XHTML and Flash and on and on...the need for better code, better graphics, better Flash and interoperability of the web coding is what drives the need for speedier rendering and cross platform compatibility as people keep demanding faster load times which equates to more productivity...

less we forget...as we have ALL been taught...time is MONEY. Investors want the Highest ROI possible and won't settle for anything less.

So Mac...see ya.

Guest said:

The NVIDIA GeForce 8600m looks to be a bigger problem for macbook pro than apple wants to admit. I have the same problem it won't start up and after checking on a lot of site it appears to be fairly common I hope someone does do a class action law suit. It not about free stuff it about fitting a know problem. I'm in sales and if we have a problem we fit at out cost.

RubinOnRye RubinOnRye said:

Even better, any kind of ram is compatible with apple's ram...yeah the $40 one too.

Your incorrect. I work as a computer tech for my own business and not all memory is compatible. I have seen RAM that says it's compatible and the Apple computer still won't recognize it.

Ok apple is the rip of and microsoft isnt with the $400 software that you can use to buy a whole laptop.

No matter if you buy a mac or a pc you still need to buy a software. Office isn't free and both computers need an AV. Microsoft includes a free word processor with your computer called Word Pad, NOT NOTEPAD.

Guest said:

Hahaha. Just wait until your next iDevice "legitimately" stops working and apple tells you that its your fault. And you have to pay even more. :))

But I guess you would probably just pay anyways because your a money tree farmer :))

Guest said:

Any luck with the class action suit? I'm currently fighting with Apple over this same issue...not fun

Guest said:

Apple are merciless always

Guest said:

I had this graphics chip on my Macbook Pro Santa Rosa fail 4 months after the 4 year extended warranty expired. My local (UK) Apple store diagnosed it, though it wouldn't boot, and gave me an Applecare number to call. They said it's past the warranty, but we'll fit you a new mainboard for free. Overnight. No Charge at all. 720GBP worth. That was 15 months ago, and it's run flawlessly since.

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