Apple Hit With a Second Class Action Lawsuit Over ‘Defective’ Butterfly Keyboards

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Three years ago, Apple introduced a new keyboard alongside the MacBook, admitting at the time that facilitating an ultraportable as thin as that machine meant redesigning the keyboard.

Almost right out of the gate there was backlash over the new “butterfly” keyboard, in which there is a single mechanism underneath larger keycaps, which Apple said, back in 2015, would make typing even easier. For some that has been the case, and for others the resulting physical design decisions, which includes a second-generation butterfly keyboard introduced with the MacBook Pro lineup, has led down roads of frustration and expensive repair costs — all because of a single mote of dust.

Earlier this month, Apple was hit with a class action lawsuit for shipping “faulty keyboards” in its 2015 MacBook lineup. And we have seen on a semi-regular basis as people on the internet have voiced their dismay over the butterfly keyboard design. Some have said it has ruined their lives, while others are simply having to cope with a keyboard that isn’t 100% accurate all the time.

“Prior to the introduction of the butterfly switch keyboard in 2015, Apple used a “scissor switch” mechanism for the keyboard keys on its low-profile laptops. The keys are attached to the keyboard via two plastic pieces that interlock in a “scissor”-like fashion, and snap to the keyboard and the key. The scissors mechanism links the key to a plunger that depresses a rubber dome. These keyboards are generally quiet and the keys require little force to press. Because the “scissor switch” is a more closed design than the traditional “rubber-dome” keyboard design, debris is less likely to get under the keys and, by extension, into the rest of the computer. The tradeoff is that scissor-switch keys are more difficult to separate from their base than rubber-domed keys, but they can be removed and replaced.”

And now, as first reported on Wednesday by Patently Apple, which has a copy of the filing to view, Apple is facing a second class action lawsuit. This time around, the company is hit with a five count lawsuit, which are:

  • Count 1: BREACH OF EXPRESS WARRANTY
  • Count 2: VIOLATION OF THE MAGNUSON-MOSS WARRANTY ACT
  • Count 3: VIOLATION OF CALIFORNIA SONG-BEVERLY CONSUMER WARRANTY ACT
  • Count 4: VIOLATION OF THE CALIFORNIA UNFAIR COMPETITION LAW
  • Count 5: VIOLATION OF CALIFORNIA’S CONSUMER LEGAL REMEDIES ACT

The report notes that Apple has continued to sell these machines despite knowing full well that they are not up to par, and, worse, uses its marketing machine to ignore the issue. On top of that, Apple “refuses to honor its warranty obligations”.

“Further, although the Laptops come with a one-year written warranty from Defendant, Defendant refuses to honor its warranty obligations, attributing the keyboard defect to owner negligence, or advising Laptop owners to attempt home remedies, such as using compressed air on the keyboard, which it knows will not permanently repair the defect.

Responding to hundreds of complaints on its own website, as well as on social and traditional media sites, Apple has posted a “solution” to the problem on its website, which is also advocated as a remedy by its “Genius” bar employees. The “solution” – which Business Insider has characterized as “absurd” — requires holding the Laptop at a 75 degree angle with one hand while blowing a spray can of air at the affected keys multiple times. For many Laptop owners, the solution does not work at all; for others, it only works temporarily. When the “solution” does not work, or stops working, the entire lower panel of the Laptop must be replaced. And unfortunately, even replacement does not preclude recurrence of the problem.”

This lawsuit has been filed in Northern California, San Jose offices. There hasn’t been a judge assigned to the case just yet.

Our Take

This has snowballed out of control, similar to Apple’s battery situation late last year and leading into this. I don’t think anyone is faulting Apple for trying to change the keyboard itself, especially in its efforts to make a super slim and portable MacBook. But the failure rate and the reasons behind the failures are an issue that Apple needs to fix immediately.

[via Patently Apple]

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