Announcements, Info Tech, Law

UPDATE: Apple has finally extended the Logic Repair Program to cover late 2001 iBooks!!! Took them long enough, but I’m glad they did the right thing!

Original post:

OK. I wasn’t going to do this, but Apple forced me to. They removed my post from Apple’s discussion forums…

Let me just start by saying that I have been a mac user since the mid 1980s when I got my first Mac+, a computer which was bought used and lasted me from 1986 until I finally upgraded in 1993 — even then the computer continued to be used by a friend until they bought a new computer a couple of years later. The computer probably still works fine, if you are happy running OS 7. Unfortunately, my Apple laptops have not worked out so well for me. Both my first Powerbook and my iBook died from problems with the monitor. In both cases it was from design flaws well documented on the internet, and relating to the ribbon connecting the computer to the monitor getting damaged by the hinge. Wires get frayed and circuits start to short, etc. I had to send the first one back to Apple three times before they semi-fixed it. Now it is out of warrantee and the same problem happened again, now the computer is worthless simply because Apple was too cheap to replace the part with one that wouldn’t break in the same way. But with my iBook the story is much more upsetting.

Last summer my iBook died from a similar monitor problem. Luckily it was still under warrantee, and Apple fixed the problem and got my computer back to me in less than a week. But then, at the beginning of this year, and six weeks after my warrantee expired (I had an extended warrantee from my credit card company) the computer began suffering from the well known iBook Logic Board issue. By that time over 1600 people had already signed on to a class action suit against Apple, and the problem was well understood. My symptoms were exactly the same as those described by other iBook owners. On Apple’s discussion boards I read that Apple was slowly coming around to making an official statement on the problem. I decided to wait and see what Apple did.

On January 28th, Apple announced its iBook Logic Board Repair Extension Program. Great, I thought, they have finally admitted that it is a design flaw, and accepted responsibility for the problem. Unfortunately, Apple seems to have arbitrarily decided that only certain models (those with serial numbers in the range UV220XXXXXX to UV318XXXXXX) are eligible for the Repair Extension Program. I say this was arbitrary, because there are clearly many people (as was shown by discussions on Apple’s discussion boards, before they deleted the posts, as well as by recent reports on who have earlier models and who have experienced these symptoms as well.

Below I have copied today’s reports from

[“Jim”] I have worked with a few iBooks in recent years. I had to discard one 12″ 500 mhz due to the video/logicboard problem. I have seen one bad 14″ G3 (forgot the speed) but most worryingly I have just returned a brand new 14″ G4 to Apple service for the second time. It developed the symptoms after about one week of light duty. […] (By the way, the old clamshell iBooks keep chugging away — marvellous machines!) [Nathan Janette] Regarding the just announced iBook Logic Board Repair Extension Program, I have to express my dismay that my 600 MHz iBook is apparently not covered as its serial number is a bit before Apple’s published range of acceptable numbers. While Apple may not wish to acknowledge my system, it most assuredly has been dead for almost a year with a logic board failure, complete with the video issues commonly described. [Robin Galloway] In December, we took my wife’s iBook 600MHz into our local Apple Certified Repair shop to get the intermittent video image” problem diagnosed. As expected, the Apple Certified Repair Technician diagnosed the problem as a logic board failure.
  I’ve followed the MacInTouch reader reports closely, and I even added my name to the list of persons interested in a class-action lawsuit. So, I was thrilled when I read on your site that Apple had announced the iBook Logic Board Repair Extension Program! Unfortunately, my wife’s iBook precedes the range of serial numbers that Apple has identified as suffering from specific component failures.”
  So, our iBook is suffering from intermittent video image”, a symptom identified by Apple as indicative of a specific component failure” which is resolved by a repair or replacement of the logic board.” Our iBook is diagnosed as needing a replacement logic board, but somehow the specific component is not the same? […] I too think the problems are more widespread than Apple admits. [Kerim Friedman] I too have a late 2001 iBook that has died from symptoms exactly like those described by those who are covered under the logic board repair extension program. I spent an hour on the phone with Apple and was unable to get anything other than a scripted response about how Apple had spent a long time researching this problem and would not make any exceptions. I strongly urge everyone in the same boat to file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. [We’re starting to wonder if the root cause of these failures could be a defect that might cost Apple a billion dollars to fix for all affected computers. Apple’s problem description seems crafted to be intentionally vague. -MacInTouch] I strongly urge anyone else in the same boat to file a complaint!

UPDATE: From today’s Macintouch:

[11:00 EST]  Spaceman” forwarded a link to an NE Asia article, IC Failures Linked to Resin Series, wondering if this might be related to Apple’s mysterious iBook failures:
It isn’t too much of a leap to suspect that iBook (and other logic board problems) may be the victim of the Sumitomo Bakelite issue. The problem didn’t get corrected, other than the manufacturing process was changed to prevent future defects. There are no ways to detect if the chip will fail. Since Sumitomo Bakelite controls about half of the world supply of IC plastics”, the problem is considered pervasive.
  Several defective chip-sets were identified in some high end equipment at my office (not Apple-related), which resulted in a complete replace of the gear. The symptom is sudden or premature end of life. Higher temp and humidity also contributed to the likelihood of the problem happening.
  We are also seeing a high drop out rate for 2+ year old laptops, which we now suspect as over two-thirds being susceptible. UPDATE: For those whose iBooks are not covered by Apple’s repair program, there is now a form to sign up for a potential class action suite.

UPDATE: Apple has finally extended the Logic Repair Program to cover late 2001 iBooks!!! Took them long enough, but I’m glad they did the right thing!