Apple voids Mac warranties for smokers, claims hardware is biohazard

happygeek 0 Tallied Votes 460 Views Share

This has to be the most bizarre excuse for voiding a warranty ever, but according to The Consumerist at least two Mac owners have been told their Applecare warranties are no good because they smoke.

In both cases, we are told, the Mac owner concerned took the matter up with the Apple supremo, Steve Jobs, or at least with his office. And in both cases they lost that appeal.

According to one of the users, who had an overheating Macbook, his machine had more than a year of warranty to run but the Apple Store called him to let him know it would not be working on the machine and his warranty had been voided. The chap says they told him this was due to the health risks of second hand smoke.

The other user, in a different part of the US entirely, reports a similar experience. She had a non-working iMac with an extended warranty which was voided by Apple due to contamination. When pressed for an explanation the user was told that the computer was contaminated with cigarette smoke and as such constituted a bio-hazard.

Oddly, the Applecare warranty document itself does not seem to mention cigarette smoke as being something that would void the cover. Apple has a long history of making mad decisions (see here, here, here and here for some examples) but this really does take the biscuit.

I'm an ex-smoker myself, and like many ex-smokers I hate the smell of cigarettes and I hate being in a room full of smokers. But I'll tell you what I hate even more, and that's some numbnuts repair guy who mistakenly thinks he will get cancer from looking at a hard drive with tar on it, and some numbnuts company which defends that decision.

agbanks 0 Newbie Poster

Two things getting confused here. If Apple doesn't want staff to work on smokers' kit, no problem at all, that's their choice. No effect on warranty obligations - if they can't repair, they must replace. Not sure how it works in the US, but under EU/UK law warranties are all but irrelevant anyway, since any fault emerging within a reasonable time is covered by statutory rights. I doubt Apple would try this here.

PoppyViolet 0 Newbie Poster

The reasonable time argument gets kicked to the kerb if you are talking about an extended warranty, which I think at east one of the two cases in that story does. What then, if you put your Macbook in for repair with a couple of months of a 3 year warranty left and Apple decides it is contaminated and void it?

david001 0 Newbie Poster

Will they refuse to service machines from users that have coughed or sneezed near their machines? It is likely to be a far more dangerous health issue.

music2myear 0 Newbie Poster

I've worked in geek-squad-like tech support positions before and have seen several cigarette-smoke-induced system failures.

The tar in the cigarette smoke mixes with the normal dust in the air which is blown through the heatsinks in the system. The tar/dust mixture collects in the heatsinks and around the fan blades causing the air flow to become blocked and the fans to be clogged.

Overheating can cause severe damage to the components and the tar mixture will also cause the fan motor to blow out.

At the company I worked for, we'd require a system cleaning prior to servicing these cigarette smoke clogged systems regardless of the nature of the repair. And if the fan was burned out we'd require a hardware diagnosis and repair charge to replace the fan. The cleaning charge was around $30 and the hardware diag/repair charge was around $100.

And this doesn't take into account the horrible smells we'd deal with cleaning these dirty boxes. But because we weren't bound by warranty in any way in these services, and if it was a warranty repair such damage easily fell under a standard physical damage clause, I never had a qualm about the extra charges for service.

Let's just say I can understand why Apple does this, but if I were making the decision at Apple, I'd call it physical damage rather than an environmental hazard.

happygeek 2,411 Most Valuable Poster Team Colleague Featured Poster

I think you are right. If there is damage done by the user blowing smoke into the machine and casuing it to clog up with tar, then there is cause to question if that should be excluded from a free repair.

However, the point of concern here is the voiding of the warranty rather than charging for a repair and calling the units concerned a biohazard or contaminated.

Apple is just digging a nice dirty hole for itself as far as PR and customer reputation is concerned.

Crash~Override 0 Junior Poster

Good God Apple.....

i think the only way a mac is going to become a biohazzard is if someone cracked open the mac and empty the freaking ashtray into it....LOL

And who the hell sits in front of their monitor and blows smoke directly at mac to clog the machine with tar???

WTF is apple even thinking here???

Seten -1 Junior Poster

Give us the photos of the machines. Without the pictures we can only blame the Apple and/or user without any proof of evidence.

docdawning 0 Newbie Poster

Anyone who's serviced a heavy smoker's machine knows that computers are heavily affected by the smoke. Dead human skin (aka dust) is bad enough as it is, but when you throw in all the nasty chemicals from cigarettes, well, after a few years, a computer that's been sucking back tons of air for cooling will have caked enough junk on to its organs that it'll fail quite nicely. Of course some machines are more smoker resistant than anything.

The biohazard claim is interesting and I don't really have a problem with it.. I think Apple just needs to add a statement to their warranty info explicitly defining sustained exposure to smoke as an unsupported use case.

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