Apple Offers Free Replacements / Repairs On Butterfly Keyboards

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After numerous complaints over the last two years and even an online petition by a customer, Apple has decided to offer free repairs or replacements for the butterfly keyboard on its MacBook and MacBook Pro laptops.

What Happened?

For quite some time now, some MacBook and MacBook Pro laptop users have been complaining about problems they have experienced with the ‘Butterfly keyboard’. These problems have included letters or characters repeating unexpectedly, letters or characters not appearing, and keys feeling “sticky” or not responding in a consistent manner.

Petition and Lawsuit

The problems have been so bad that one user set up a online petition asking Apple to recall every MacBook Pro released since late 2016, and two fed up Apple customers have filed a lawsuit against the company (both back in May) in a San Jose, California, federal court.

The petition, which attracted over 21,000 signatures, was set up by someone listed as Matthew Taylor, who claimed that every one of Apple’s current-generation MacBook Pro models, 13in and 15in, is sold with a keyboard that can become defective at any moment because of a design failure. Mr Taylor is reported as saying that he believes that the problems are widespread and consistent, and can be infuriating for users.

The lawsuit has been brought by Zixuan Rao, of San Diego, California, and Kyle Barbaro, of Melrose, Massachusetts, who allege that Apple’s model year 2015 or later MacBooks and model year 2016 or later MacBook Pros are defective.

Hands Up … Maybe

Apple has now held its hands up and acknowledged in a statement online, that the problems of characters repeating unexpectedly, letters or characters not appearing, and keys feeling “sticky” or not responding in a consistent manner “may” exist in a “small percentage” of its Butterfly keyboards.


Apple has, therefore, launched a program which will mean that Apple or an Apple Authorised Service Provider will service eligible MacBook and MacBook Pro keyboards, free of charge. The type of service that Apple / the Apple Authorized Service Provider can offer will be determined after the keyboard has been examined, and Apple says that this may involve the replacement of one or more keys or the whole keyboard.

Eligible Models

Apple has released a list of models that are eligible for the repair/replacement program. These models are (courtesy of the Apple website):

  • MacBook (Retina, 12 inch, Early 2015)
  • MacBook (Retina, 12 inch, Early 2016)
  • MacBook (Retina, 12 inch, 2017)
  • MacBook Pro (13 inch, 2016, Two Thunderbolt 3 Ports)
  • MacBook Pro (13 inch, 2017, Two Thunderbolt 3 Ports)
  • MacBook Pro (13 inch, 2016, Four Thunderbolt 3 Ports)
  • MacBook Pro (13 inch, 2017, Four Thunderbolt 3 Ports)
  • MacBook Pro (15 inch, 2016)
  • MacBook Pro (15 inch, 2017)

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

On the one hand it is good news that Apple is prepared to repair/replace keyboards free of charge. On the other hand, some would say that it’s a shame that it’s taken 2 years, thousands of complaints, a petition with tens of thousands of signatures, bad publicity, and even a lawsuit to bring Apple to the point of admitting that there “may” be a problem with the keyboards that warrants free repair/replacement program to be set up at some cost to Apple.

It is all-too-common in the technology industry for products (usually software) to be distributed before all the bugs have been discovered and ironed-out or patched. In this case, many Apple customers were clearly saying that their keyboards didn’t work as they should, and it is this kind of thing that can turn happy customers into very vocal critics of a company. For businesses that have been affected by the problem, the repair/replacement program is likely to be welcome … but long overdue.

If you/your business has been affected by the problem, the advice from Apple is to first back up your data, then find an Apple authorised service provider and make an appointment at an Apple Retail Store (or send your device by mail to the Apple Repair Centre). Apple says that your MacBook or MacBook Pro will be examined prior to any service to verify that it is eligible for this programme, and examination will determine the type of service, or whether a replacement will be needed. It is estimated that the service could take a few days, and Apple says that the program covers eligible MacBook and MacBook Pro models for 4 years after the first retail sale of the unit.

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