Smoking Near Apple Computers Creates Biohazard, Voids Warranty

Image (13) applesmoke.jpg for post 10000832

Unless you’ve just arrived in 2009 on a time machine, you know that smoking isn’t good for you. Did you know, that smoking isn’t good for your computer, either? It’s true, at least according to Apple. Two readers in different parts of the country claim that their Applecare warranties were voided due to secondhand smoke. Both readers appealed their cases up to the office of God Steve Jobs himself. Both lost.

Back in April, Derek copied us on his e-mail to Jobs:

I took my mid 2007 apple macbook (black) into the Jordan Creek Apple Store in West Des Moines, Iowa, on Saturday, April 25th, because I had been experiencing some issues with it overheating, and figured the fan was bad. After some initial testing, they took the computer in for work under my Applecare plan, which has over a year remaining on it.

Today, April, 28, 2008, the Apple store called and informed me that due to the computer having been used in a house where there was smoking, that has voided the warranty and they refuse to work on the machine, due to “health risks of second hand smoke”.

Not only is this faulty science, attributing non smoking residue to second hand smoke, on Chad’s part, no where in your applecare terms of service can I find anything mentioning being used in a smoking environment as voiding the warranty.

Jobs’ office did not help Derek, but he resolved some of the problems himself by disassembling his Macbook and cleaning it out with a can of compressed air.

A few months later, reader Ruth wrote to us with an identical complaint after trying to have her son’s iMac repaired at a local authorized repair center.

I bought an iMac for my son (for school) along with the extended Applecare warranty. A month ago, it quit working. My son took it to the authorized Mac service center. The “tech” informed him it would be ready in 48-72 hours. Five days go by and he’s heard nothing, so I called. They informed me that his computer can’t be worked on because it’s contaminated.

When I asked for an explanation, she said he’s a smoker and it’s contaminated with cigarette smoke which they consider a bio-hazard! I checked my Applecare warranty and it says nothing about not honoring warranties if the owner is a smoker. The Applecare representative said they defer to the technician and my son’s computer cannot be fixed at any Apple Service Center due to being listed a bio-hazard.

This computer cost approx. $3,000, with the extended warranty. I’m all for destroying cigarettes and putting big tobacco out of business (yes, I’m a reformed smoker), but to label a computer a biohazard because one is a smoker is going a bit too far in regulating who can have the warranty they purchased honored. Shouldn’t there be some disclaimer stating that they won’t honor warranties from smokers?

Ruth appealed her case to Steve Jobs’s office, which also declined to repair the iMac. In another letter, she wrote:

Dena [from Jobs’ office] did advise me that nicotine is on OSHA’s list of hazardous substances and Apple would not require an employee to repair anything deemed hazardous to their health. However, OSHA also lists calcium carbonate (found in calcium tablets), isopropyl alcohol (used to clean wounds), chlorine (used in swimming pools), hydrogen peroxide (also used to clean wounds), sucrose (a sugar), talc (as in powder), etc… as hazardous substances.

Dena set up an appointment at the same Apple store. They told me that they would take pictures of the computer – both inside and out before determining whether to proceed and that if the only problem was the optical drive, they’d probably just replace it. Dena called me earlier this week to deliver the “bad news.” She said that the computer is beyond economical repair due to tar from cigarette smoke! She said the hard drive is about to fail, the optical drive has failed and it isn’t feasible to repair the computer under the warranty. This computer is less than 2 years old! Only one person in my household smokes – one 21 year old college student. She said that I can get it repaired elsewhere at my expense. I asked why my warranty didn’t cover the repair and was told it’s an OSHA violation.

UPDATE:On Monday, reader Jeniffer wrote in that she has experienced the same problem with her Mac–in the last week.

I own a mac and live in Oklahoma. Recently the burner stopped working.
We have AppleCare so we took it in 2 days ago for repair. We just
recieved a call today stating we needed to come get it because they
are refusing to work on it due to health hazards from second hand
smoke due to OSHA violations.

Consumerist has tried repeatedly to obtain some kind of answer about these two cases from Apple’s media relations department, and we have received nothing on the record after months of waiting. Mostly, we’re curious what the threshold is for smoke damage to a computer, and why this is not mentioned in the Applecare contract.

(Photo: Sutanto Saputro ???)

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. SybilDisobedience says:

    Dennis: I swallowed some apple seeds today.

    Mac: Did you try throwing up?

    Dennis: I tried, but I couldn’t.

    Mac: Smoke some cigarettes. The smoke will suffocate the bacteria in your stomach.

    [That’s the first thing I thought of when I saw the image with the article.]

  2. GearheadGeek says:

    Hmm… so the completely-sealed hard drive is “about to fail” and this magically has something to do with tobacco smoke? I can see (at a stretch) how the presence of a LOT of smoke might be harmful to the optical drive, since its mechanisms are somewhat exposed to the environment. Even if they were to replace both the hard drive and the optical drive, it seems like that’s a lot less than the value of a not-too-old iMac, though it doesn’t say how old the iMac was at the time of Dena’s statement.

    • samurailynn says:

      @GearheadGeek: No, it sounds like they’re saying cigarette smoke residue is a biohazard and they won’t require they’re employees to repair a computer contaminated with biohazardous material.

    • Andyf says:

      @GearheadGeek: hard drives aren’t completely sealed, there’s a very small vent hole in them. not that it would cause smoke to be able to damage the drive, since it does have a filter, and it’s a single vent (to allow for pressure changes as the drive warms up, etc.)

      I guess a voided warranty is a voided warranty though, and that’s assuming the drive internals are the problem, not the external controller board, or the system’s drive controller. (though the internals are more likely, in my experience with non-smoking computers)

      • ArleenCabango says:

        @Andyf: yes but if the tar build up where to seal that vent, it might cause a failure. same thing if the various connectors and such were gunked up with tar and the dust it would trap

        and the AppleCare conditions to say that user abuse and accidental damage are not covered.

        plus we have only the customer’s word that what was said was said, how it was reported as having been said. for all we know the machine was examined, they were told it couldn’t be fixed under warranty due to the condition, which was likely caused by heavy or repeated smoking around the machine. the customer pulls a ‘then what am I supposed to do’ and was told to try carefully cleaning it out or taking it to a company that specializes in detailed internal cleaning (something the Apple Stores have never offered in or out of warranty to my knowledge) and when the customer retored ‘why can’t you do it, you have my machine there already’ was told that since OSHA lists nicotine and tar as hazard materials they can’t legally make the techs do such a service (because if the person got sick they could sue for worker’s comp etc)

    • John says:

      @GearheadGeek: @NICU: asking the average user to disassemble and “clean up” a non user serviceable Macbook is an undue burden.

      Having said that smokers computers are the worst thing I have ever had to work on.

      • oldgraygeek says:

        @John: That’s what I came to say. I have PC repair customers who smoke, and their computer acts as a big air filter: there is a coating of gray-brown scum on everything in the airflow path.
        If they have pets, it’s even worse.

        • techphets says:

          @oldgraygeek: I agree 100% with Apple’s decision. I want to hate Apple for some obscure reason but I can not use this for it.

          I have thrown out working computers which I had inherited from smokers. I wouldn’t expect a technician to work on a computer which had human feces inside or on it and I wouldn’t expect them to work with that nasty, sticky, goo substance either.

          I would repair a toilet than a computer which has been smoked around. Yes smokers, it really is that disgusting to some of us. Hopefully knowing that helps you understand why we don’t want it anywhere near us when we’re eating in restaurants.

    • Thumbmaster says:

      @GearheadGeek: I have seen the innards of computers belonging to chain-smokers. Some have thick layers of sticky tar on the wires and other parts. Some have so much tar built-up that the cooling fans don’t turn anymore. I’ve even seen an optical drive that “imprints” tar residues onto any inserted discs. I’m sure no sane tech would want to touch these. Not to mention to replace any components (hard drive, etc) in said computer requires handling of these sticky toxic cables and other parts.

      So I think we need to see the insides of these computers before passing any judgement on Apple’s part.

  3. coan_net says:

    My sister smokes & her PC was starting to do strange things, so she dropped the thing off to me. (I don’t smoke, and smoke makes me sick)

    I opened up the case, and it looked like sticky-poop looking muck all over the PC – on top of the processor heat sink (just under the fan) was a layer of this muck. It’s like smoke in a solid form. Canned air would not even dint this muck – a screwdriver was about the only thing to work. It finally started to make me sick that I told her it was fried and she needed a new PC – it was beyond fixable.

    I would guess the computers in the story was not this bad, but I can see the point of people not wanted to work on them… I will most likely never work on my sister’s computer again.

    • Covertghost says:

      @coan_net: Not wanting to fix it because it’s gross and falsely labeling it a biohazard are two different things though =P.

      • secret_curse says:

        @Covertghost: Biohazard is definitely a stretch, but you can definitely get sick from touching the gunky tar buildup. It can still have nicotine in it which will give you a pretty bad headache and the shakes if you’re a non smoker, ruining the rest of your day. I think it’s fair for Apple (or any electronics company) to say their employees don’t have to deal with that.

      • Tiaris says:

        @Covertghost: Coan’s point wasn’t that it was gross, but that smoke (and smoke-related residues) make him/her sick. I can relate, I’m the same way. If it is a foreign substance that makes you ill, it’s a biohazard (at least for you).

        That said, I think in the case of the original article above, that rotely labeling those computers as biohazards is silly and over-reactionary. I would agree with the person who suggested that the techs who sent them back were just looking for an excuse either not to work or not to fulfill warranties.

      • ludwigk says:

        @Covertghost: If it makes the technician sick, it sure as hell is a biohazard. For those of us who have been technicians, the tell-tale signs of a smoker are always upsetting because things like OP described are more common than you’d think. Also, you might be surprised how much ash ends up inside computers and clinging to the parts in it.

        I have a friend who is allergic to cigarette smoke. On several occasions, he has received machines that were permeated with cigarette ash and residue that he could not work on because they literally made him sick. Noone else, including smokers, would work on them because they were so disgusting.

        We’re not talking about just smoke-smell and some staining at the air intakes.. that’s the “normal” damage to your computer caused by smoking. We’re talking about an amount of residue that destroys computers and makes them unfit to work on by technicians. The same goes for a computer covered in vomit or bodily fluids. We don’t work on those either.

        I once worked on a computer that had a little bit of blood on it, but I certainly could have voided the wty and refused it for that (girl was super drunk, fell unconscious on her laptop, smashed face against keyboard, cutting her face, causing blood to drip into kb, requiring new kb.)

        • Osi says:

          @ludwigk:

          This is common sense. Apple did the right thing in this case (for once).

        • gc3160thtuk says you got your humor in my sarcasm and you say you got your sarcasm in my humor says:

          wow she shoulda used the money she spent on paying for the keyboard repair to go to rehab LOL

    • wrjohnston91283 says:

      @coan_net:

      You’re probably seeing dust mixed with tar – just as bad, but builds up faster than just tar. I worked at restaurant where the office was next to a grill – no fryer, just a grill. Anything was wasn’t cleaned daily eventially got a nice layer of gunk on it. The inside of her computer looked just like what I think you’re describing.

      Apple’s in a tough spot here, since in order to work on the machine the tech is going to have to carefully scrub this stuff off the parts. Warranty doesn’t cover cleaning. I don’t agree with them claiming it’s a biohazard, but they shouldn’t have to clean a layer of grim off of the parts. Dust is one thing, as that can be airblasted away, but i don’t think it’s unreasonable of them to say “sorry, your machine is filthy and we don’t cover that”

    • kobresia says:

      @coan_net: I’ve encountered PCs like this too. They’re absolutely revolting, probably look something like the insides of a smoker’s lungs. On warranty calls, I always made sure to make a note of that sort of thing on the service provider’s record, too, since it’s not really a warranty issue– it’s customer damage since smoke residue kills electronics.

      I also learned to put on the disposable nitrile gloves I used for working on printers. I learned the hard way that cigarette filth doesn’t wash off easily. Seriously, I would’ve rather dealt with a cat having taken a dump in their computer than the sticky smoke residue.

    • pz says:

      @coan_net: I can totally relate — I’ve worked on smokers’ computers before too, and I swear, it’s like the entire inside of the computer is sometimes a sickly, sticky, smelly shade of yellow.

      However, IANAL, and I don’t know if since Apple didn’t list this specifically in the contract if they can use this as a defense or not, but the insides of smokers’ computers being declared a biohazardous waste zone? I can get behind that.

      (TBH, I don’t care if you smoke or not when I’m working on your computer — I always wear gloves, anyway. However, smokers — smoke outside or something. :p )

    • ktetch says:

      @coan_net: Cans of air should NEVER be used to clean computers. You pull the dust out, using a vacuum, never just randomly blow it somewhere else, like maybe into or under a componant.

      @secret_curse: Should be wearing gloves. I always do whenever I work on someone’s system

    • intensefroid says:

      But isn’t that where they put a thick layer of thermal paste between the processor and heatsink?
      There’s supposed to be goo there. Of course, if it looked the same as the rest of the computer then either it was tar or the thermal paste was discolored from same.

  4. CompyPaq says:

    If the technician was able to tell that the Mac’s came from a smoking household, they must have been pretty exposed. Tar can cause things to break.

    • JennQPublic says:

      @CompyPaq: Exactly. If the smoke wasn’t an issue, how would the tech know they smoked?

      Excessive smoke can damage components, and I hate to say it, but I can empathize with a tech who doesn’t want to work on a disgusting, smoked-up computer. I think a lot of smokers don’t realize how quickly and permanently that residue can build up. And it’s really gross!

    • smiling1809 says:

      @CompyPaq: You are right. People are in denial about what smoke does to things. One of the apartments where we lived had completely darkened yellow blinds b/c the occupants were smokers. They finally moved out. Also, the lady downstairs moved out b/c the previous occupants were smokers (Thank God they left b/c our apartment smelled like THEIR smoke) and the smell was so bad despite the walls being primed and repainted and new carpet being installed.

      Smoke reaks havoc on people and things.

    • Wombatish says:

      @CompyPaq: Yes, but: I’m sure water damage is mentioned in the warranty. Just add “tar damage” or something.

      The issue isn’t that the computers were legitimately broken.. it’s that they blamed it on something else, and that the warranty doesn’t mention it.

      Now, had the lady on the phone said “Sorry, the computer is broken because you covered it in crap (inadvertently), and we don’t cover that (spelled out in the warranty)” I would have completely agreed with her.

  5. endless says:

    You can ALWAYS tell when people smoke by their computers.

    They are always EXTREMELY dirty and smell, even with my bad nose I can tell.

    The dirt is not a light dust thats more common with pet owners, its a heavy sticky dust that sometimes even an air compressor has a hard time getting rid of. It makes complete sense and I support Apple on this policy. Smokers computers are GROSS…

    • kexline says:

      @endless: Given the testimony here from people who have worked on smoke-contaminated computers, I would support Apple if the words “smoke”, “cigarette”, or “OSHA” appeared on the AppleCare page or its FAQ. They don’t, however, so this comes out looking as a kind of fraud or theft.

      • HeartBurnKid: Agent of R.O.A.C.H. says:

        @kexline:

        Applecare terms and conditions: (PDF)

        1. Repair Coverage

        b. Limitations. The Plan does not cover:

        (ii) Damage to the Covered Equipment caused by accident, abuse, neglect, misuse (including faulty installation, repair, or maintenance by anyone other than Apple or an Apple Authorized Service Provider), unauthorized modification, extreme environment (including extreme temperature or humidity), extreme physical or electrical stress or interference, fluctuation or surges of electrical power, lightning, static electricity, fire, acts of God or other external causes;

        Any of the terms I bolded could easily be used to deny this repair.

  6. ubermex says:

    The OSHA thing just means that apple can’t make an employee do it without safety equipment or whatever else OSHA requires, but that is still between Apple and their employee. They should still have to fulfill their responsibilities as a party in the warranty. They agreed that they would fix computers under certain terms. If smoke is not one of those terms, then Apple is just going to have to FIND a way to make it safe to work on. It’s not the customer’s responsibility to keep Apple’s workplace safe.

    • NICU says:

      @ubermex: The customers should have the decency to clean up their computer before bringing it in. I’ve seen computers from smokers they’re disgusting.

      • ShiningSquirrel says:

        @NICU:
        So you execpt the average user to open thier laptop, take it apart and clean it before bringing it in?
        But that voids the warrenty, oh, wait, WHAT warrenty?

      • tinky XIII says:

        @NICU: I’ve got to disagree with you. I would much rather have an unopened dirty computer that I have to work at a bit with gloves and a mask on, than a computer that’s been opened up, attempted to be cleaned, and possibly had more damage inflicted upon it because the owner didn’t know what they were doing.

        I consider physically disinfecting a computer part of the job. I like giving the computer back to the owner in as pristine a condition as possible.

    • JiminyChristmas says:

      @ubermex: You are right. When an OSHA rule applies that just means you use the proper safety equipment or procedures, not that you just don’t do the task at hand.

      If the nicotine, or whatever, is that bad get the Apple tech a respirator and a pair of nitrile gloves. Problem solved.

    • soloudinhere says:

      @ubermex: The apple warranty specifically excludes repairs due to user damage. If the fan is covered in tar, that’s user damage, and they have zero obligation to fix it.

      If they had to explicitly name every possible instance of user damage, the warranty would be about 10,000 pages long. The short version: if YOU caused the problem, it ain’t covered.

    • ShadowFalls says:

      @ubermex:

      So now, Apple is trying to make it so people have to be careful about what others do to their laptop? Sorry, but user damage needs to be proven. Would cost more than the laptop was worth for Apple to prove it on a case by case basis. As for health hazard? If you aren’t repairing it, then you replace it.

      A person would need to smoke 3 packs a day for it to build up that much within the term of the warranty, either that or Apple is at fault for poor ventilation on its laptops. Guess next step here is small claims court. Don’t forget to sue for the cost of the laptop and the warranty.

  7. admiral_stabbin says:

    I am in utter disbelief. Citing OSHA? Really? Put on some damn gloves and fix these computers, Apple.

    Sounds like corporate is trying to reduce their warranty overhead…at the expense of their customers that have habits they don’t philosophically side with. I state this with a fairly broad depth of experience…the systems did not fail due to smoke damage from secondhand smoke. Absurdly poor ventilation design would be the root cause…

    • wgrune says:

      @admiral_stabbin:

      I agree that the health hazard may be a bit overstated but from the sounds of it there was tar visibly present on the internal components. Second hand smoke probably didn’t cause the problems, the buildup of sticky, nasty tar could have. This is not Apple’s fault and they shouldn’t have to pay to fix it.

      • admiral_stabbin says:

        @wgrune: I have never worked on a computer that had tar buildup like you described. Not even from a household that had two, two-pack/day smokers living there…that did not ventilate the home. They’ve both passed on (one died of a heart attack, the other from cancer), but their computer didn’t have any internal signs of tar buildup. The case, keyboard, and mouse were absolutely disgusting looking. But even they weren’t sticky…nasty, yes. Dark yellow, yes.

        I cannot tell you how many times I’ve cleaned out peoples computers. The smokers computers are never much different (inside) than non-smokers.

        Most of their current systems do a poor job of ventilation (excluding the Mac Pro). To try and pawn the situation off on their customers is horrible.

        The Jordan Creek Apple Store is about two miles from where I sit typing this. The only time I’ve had a good experience there is when I say that I’m “just browsing” and don’t intend to buy anything. It’s a sad situation when the retail staff is so bad that you go to another retailer to buy a Mac. All of that being said, I’m not surprised in the least that they would pull this type of b.s.

        • Hogan1 says:

          @admiral_stabbin:

          You’ve apparently been very lucky not to encounter one. The worst one I’ve seen was so far of tar/dust that ALL 4 Case fans, the GPU, and CPU fans were stopped because of it. There was a layer of the muck over the interior with the exception of the top of the case a little over an inch deep (No exaggeration) throughout the case.

          I’ve seen a few just about as bad as that as well.

          Since compressed gas won’t work on the stuff you can try using a piece of plastic to remove it but it kicks up residue into the air. I think it’s fairly safe to assume the residue is dangerous to an extent. In any case, Apple was well within its rights to void the warranty and it was indeed the right thing to do if the muck was that built up in the Mac.

    • magic8ball says:

      @admiral_stabbin: Also: calcium carbonate is considered a hazmat? Really? “Evacuate the office! Somebody opened a bottle of Tums!”

  8. EsteVitulus says:

    I worked at the Apple Depot in Memphis for almost a year (friggin layoffs), and it was common practice to not work on machines that had horrible tar. Its not so much that they were hazardous (gloves!) but that there was so much that had to be done. Here in Memphis, most of the workers are lazy, and opening a machine and and seeing tar covered MLB, HDD, ODD, and LCD panel is grounds for BER status, no matter what it is. Hell, just the MLB, HDD, and ODD would be grounds for it to be put in requote or sent back as a biohazard. Thats just how it is.

    Also, so people can’t say I didn’t work there and I have no clue what the hell I say, all of the apple techs are NOT apple employees. They are employed by Flextronics, so really no one cares.

  9. Andyf says:

    I think the bio-hazard thing is a load of BS, but the smoking thing I’m not the least bit surprised by, and in fact having worked on machines owned by smokers, I can totally get behind it. I’ve never seen filthier machines (on the inside) than those used in the presence of cigarette smoke, the smoke lands on the computer components, making them sticky, and attracting immense amounts of dust (which then picks up more smoke, which picks up more dust, and on and on.) I’ve more than once had to resort to physically scraping the dust-goo off of components that were overheating because canned air (dust-off) didn’t have enough power to budge it.

    Furthermore, some of the components of cigarette smoke are conductive, so there’s every chance that along with heat damage, electrical shorts could lead to the early demise of the computer.

    Yes, this should probably be mentioned in the warranty more specifically, but i’m sure it’s covered under environmental damage legally speaking.

    • CocktimusPrime says:

      @Andyf: I could not agree with this more. The “OSHA” response is lame, so I can’t support Apple on that, but they should be able to deny the warranty by claiming that the device was tampered with/abused.

      I, too, have had to clean smoker’s computers and it is a complete mess. Clearly, we cannot expect Apple to lay this all out in the warranty. I don’t think I’d get very far if I expected Apple to repair my laptop after I urinated all over it (even though this exact wording doesn’t exist in the warranty).

      I don’t want to seem like I’m bashing the consumer, but this is exactly why I refuse to buy electronic equipment second-hand from smokers. The smoke causes nothing but problems. Look, we all have our vices, but everyone needs to do themselves a favor and protect their investments. Especially if it’s a $3k computer (holy cow that’s a lot of dough for a computer…)

  10. PsiCop says:

    About the only detrimental effect I can think of, coming from cigarette smoke, would be to build up on the electronics and cause overheating … which is what happened to Derek. But mere dust — which is found to some degree in every human-inhabited location — is usually present in much larger amounts. Unless someone is exhaling directly into the air intake or places the burning cigarette in front of it, I can’t see that it would cause a serious problem.

    As for smoke residue being a bio-hazard … that would be funny, if not for the fact that Apple won’t honor the warranty it sold Ruth.

    • GoPadge says:

      @PsiCop: I once saw the insides of an IBM Model 55 that had spent 20 years in an unheated / un-air conditioned sawmill in South Carolina, running a CNC milling machine. They had called a technician becuase the Model 1814 monitor had died. Once the monitor was pulled out of the custom housing the cause of death was easily identified. There was a layer of sawdust 1/2 inch thick coating everything. The technician also performed a bit of preventative maintenance by also removing the 1/2 of sawdust from the inside of the PC. I wonder what the Apple techs would have said about that….

  11. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    I think Ruth is oversimplifying OSHA’s standards. She lists several things which are perfectly safe in some ways, and incredibly dangerous in others. Hydrogen peroxide, for example, is used to clean wounds – that’s true. However, it can be dangerous if it is consumed or gets into your eyes. Diluted, it can look colorless, so it could even look like water. Also, it can irritate and damge the skin.

    Talc is used in talcum powder, but in certain concentrations, can be harmful to one’s health. Isopropyl alcohol is extremely flammable, and is dangerous if injested, inhaled, or absorbed through the skin.

    These aren’t OSHA standards for the workplace, these are standards set for all workplaces. Even if you don’t ever intend to encounter a puddle of hydrogen peroxide near a computer, it applies.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      @pecan 3.14159265: These are not standards for the Apple workplace, is what I meant to say. They’re set for all workplaces in which contact with certain listed substances is not normal. For instance, hydrogen peroxide would be normal at a hospital, but not so much at a coffee shop.

    • PsiCop says:

      @pecan 3.14159265: Yes, but is the small amount of nicotine in the smoke residue inside a computer, a large enough amount to be toxic? I’ve worked on lots of computers in my life, including some that I assume must have had some tobacco-smoke in them, but it is at best a small amount of smoke residue, and within that, how much nicotine can there be?

      • Worldwalker says:

        @PsiCop: Enough to make me sick. I react badly to nicotine, and the tar/nicotine film that heavy smoking deposits on surfaces will make my skin turn red and, in bad cases, cause nausea.

        Yes, the hazard to the tech could be avoided with a set of nitrile gloves and a respirator. The hazard to the computer, on the other hand, isn’t so easy. Plating every surface inside a computer with goo (which may be conductive) and the dust that sticks to the goo (which causes overheating) is not a good thing. I’d certainly list that under “abuse and neglect”. The big problem, from Apple’s point of view is that cleaning that computer, before they can even start diagnosing and repairing it, is a multi-hour job. You need to tear everything down (that stuff gets in EVERYWHERE) and go at it with swabs and solvents. So a job … say, a keyboard swap … that might take 15 minutes in normal circumstances suddenly becomes a four hour job. Apple prices their warranties on the assumption that they will do, on average, X amount of work per buyer. Abused computers — whether the contaminant is smoke residue or Pepsi residue — throw that estimate way off. People who take proper care of their computers would resent having to pay for those who dump Pepsi all over them … or coat them in smoke goo.

        A few other odds and ends:

        Hard drive platters are usually sealed, yes, but their electronics aren’t. That goo can short, corrode, or otherwise mess up those circuits and cause failure. (so can Pepsi and other things that should never be introduced into computers)

        OSHA has standards for all sorts of things.

        Peroxide, for instance: The diluted form you buy in the drugstore can be used as an antiseptic. The concentrated form you buy from chemical supply companies can be used as rocket fuel. As a monopropellant. Peroxide torpedo propellant is believed to be the cause of the explosion that sank the Soviet nuclear submarine Kursk. It’s also one hell of an oxidizer.

        Isopropyl alcohol is another good example. It’s toxic if you drink it. It’s highly flammable. It can react with other chemicals. The fumes are a nasty irritant. I’d have to check with a CIH, but I’m fairly sure that breathing them for more than a brief period goes beyond ‘irritant’. Just because you can buy some in little bottles at Wal-Mart doesn’t mean it isn’t a hazard when you have 55-gallon drums of the pure version stacked up in your factory.

        Chlorine. Read the warnings on a box of chlorine pool shock some time. Don’t touch it, breathe it, be in the same ecosystem with it, etc. Chlorine gas is lethal. Chlorine is another strong oxidizer, and reacts with just about everything. Damn straight OSHA lists it as a hazardous substance, because it most emphatically is.

        In a lot of cases, it’s all about concentration and explosure. Sound isn’t a bad thing, right? We hear stuff all the time. But when you’re listening to a jackhammer you’re using, and you’re listening to it for 8 hours a day, you can go deaf. So there are exposure limits for sound, based on decibel level and exposure time, and standards for protective equipment (read: earplugs) to mitigate the hazard.

        Or oxygen. You need it to live, but too much of it will kill you. Liquid oxygen can be fun to play with if you want to not just light your BBQ grill but remove it from this plane of existence (google for remarkable pics).

        There’s also the question of whether what Ruth looked up was in fact a list of available MSDS sheets (yes, I know that’s redundant, like PIN number). There’s a MSDS for basically everything. Water, for example. Why would you need an MSDS for water? Because it lists things it shouldn’t be stored with or exposed to. Alkali metals, for instance. Water + Sodium is all sorts of fun, if you like that kind of thing.

        As for nicotine … the lethal dose in humans is approximately 0.5-1.0 mg/kg, and it is readily absorbed through the skin. So going with the high end of that, a 150-pound tech could be killed by 68 mg of the stuff. Possibly as little as half of that. For those of you uncomfortable with the metric system, there are 28,000 milligrams to an ounce; you do the math. Is someone going to absorb enough nicotine from working on a goo-coated computer to kill them? Doubtful. Absorbing enough to make them sick, on the other hand, is very possible. Google “green tobacco sickness”.

        So yeah, there could be an impressive layer of crud (I once had to wait for someone to, among other things, scrape the crud off apartment windows with a razor blade before I could move in). It could make the tech sick. Probably more important to Apple, it could make a repair time go way over its time budget. The fact that it’s a foreign substance and a contaminant inside the computer (just like a can of Pepsi) almost certainly brings it under the “abuse and neglect” part of the service plan.

        So, in short, Apple doesn’t have to fix it, just like they wouldn’t fix a computer that got flooded with soda.

        • PsiCop says:

          @Worldwalker:

          So, in short, Apple doesn’t have to fix it, just like they wouldn’t fix a computer that got flooded with soda.

          There’s a big difference between Apple saying, “We won’t fix it because the computer has been abused,” and saying, “We’re not legally allowed to fix it because nicotine is a bio-hazard.” The former is something I would accept. The latter just doesn’t cut it.

  12. techknight says:

    I used to work as a tech at an independent PC store/repair centre and once in a while someone would bring in a *nasty* unit filled with smokey yellow carpets of who-knows-what.

    Screw anyone who smokes around a computer.

  13. zomgorly says:

    Most warranties may not state that smoke may be the cause but I have a feeling there are lines in the warranty contract that state damage from misuse or using in a non suitable environment voids warranty. Also, I just thought I share some photos of what smoke damage might do to a machine.

    [i47.tinypic.com]

    This first photo is the bottom cover of a lenovo after removing the systemboard, you can see where the smoke traveled around the system. Smoke pretty much cover the systemboard.

    [i50.tinypic.com]

    This second photo (sorry slightly blurry) shows a fan covered in tar from a smoker. They were having overheating issues because the fan wasn’t spinning.

    • Sandaasu says:

      @zomgorly: This is pretty much my thoughts on it. Odds are, if they noticed the buildup, then it’s the buildup that’s causing the issue, and that is something that the user did to their own equipment. Environments with unclean air are quite harsh on computers, and there is probably something in the warranty about this, even if it doesn’t specify cigarette smoke.

      Good pictures too. I wish i had some around from when I did this kind of work to show right now. The amount of buildup that is possible is truly shocking.

    • iamjames says:

      @zomgorly: Those photos are a real shocker.

      I wish there was a way to rate your post up because until I saw the photos I thought Apple was being ridiculous but after seeing them I think Apple might be on to something.

    • ovalseven says:

      Those pics are completely accurate – especially the one of the fan. Dust sticks to the tar like a flytrap. More tar sticks to the dust, and the process repeats.

      I take my fans out every couple of months to clean them off. And even as a smoker, I wear a dust mask because that stuff gets airborne very easily and will make me sick.

  14. vastrightwing says:

    Add another reason to deny a claim: bio-hazards (broad category), cigarette smoke, dust, dirt, water, etc… so basically Best Buy has set the standard for denying warranty claims. Apple is now setting the bar yet higher by adding secondhand smoke. The only way to fix this mess is to have the government regulate warranties by forcing contracts to explicitly list everything they don’t cover and if it’s not listed, they must repair it. Again, avoid warranties since they are all profit to the company since all claims are DENIED!

    If only companies were as creative about trying to help customers rather than ripping them off.

  15. sp00nix says:

    Ever work on a smokers machine? YUCK! It gets all gooey inside and does cause fans to fail a lot sooner then they should.

  16. lehrdude says:

    If you smoke Light Cigarettes, is there less dust on the computer than smoking Full-Flavored Cigarettes??

    • guspaz says:

      @lehrdude: “light” cigarettes are just as damaging to your health as regular cigarettes, so why should they be any less damaging to your computer?

      The solution is simple: don’t smoke.

  17. eskimo81 says:

    I’ve seen some really bad machines covered in smokers dirt too. Most just require a good cleaning, but it’s certainly possible that the smoke & tar have gummed something up so bad that it needs a repair/replacement.

    And if that happened, it shouldn’t be covered under warranty.

    • Hogan1 says:

      @eskimo81:

      Agreed, That stuff is almost impossible to get rid of and you risk damaging the components even attempting to do so in some cases because you can’t simply use dust-off on it.

      Without seeing actual pictures of the machine in question it’s hard for the OP to make an argument saying he’s been wronged but from experience I’d say Apple had EVERY RIGHT to void the warranty.

    • ElPresidente408 says:

      @eskimo81:

      My neighbor complained their computer kept crashing so I went over to fix it. I saw that their CPU was running very hot so opened up the case to look at the fan.

      The heatsink was one massive ball of caked on tar. I couldn’t even scrape it off. Had to buy a whole new fan. Disgusting.

  18. chiieddy says:

    Hrm. [www.apple.com] (PDF)

    The Plan does not cover:

    Damage due to accident, abuse, neglect, misuse (including faulty installation, repair, or
    maintenance by anyone other than Apple or an Apple Authorized Service Provider),
    unauthorized modification, improper environment (including lack of proper
    temperature or humidity), unusual physical or electrical stress or interference, failure or
    fluctuation of electrical power, lightning, static electricity, fire, or acts of God;

    They’re declaring smoking to the point where they can tell by simply opening the computer an improper environment.

    • Crim Law Geek says:

      @chiieddy:
      I argued against this clause in arbitration when I sued Apple for jerking me around on an AppleCare repair. A plain reading of the clause says that only the damage caused by the improper environment, etc is not covered, NOT that the warranty becomes void if there is an improper environment or evidence of abuse.

      Thus, if I drop my computer and break the trackpad, the screen is still covered if it dies independently of that drop (i.e. several months later). Alternatively, if, as happened to me, something breaks on the computer (which Apple didn’t fix right), the I drop the laptop and dent the case, the first thing is covered by the warranty, but the dented case is not.

      The only provision of the AppleCare contract that provides for cancellation of the warranty requires Apple to refund the cost of the AppleCare on a pro-rata basis minus the cost of any repairs previous done under AppleCare. Without Apple paying, they cannot void the AppleCare warranty in its entirety without being in breach of the contract.

      Since it’s Apple that is saying that smoking caused the damage to the computer, they are the ones who have to prove it.

      I suggest the OPs take this to their local small claims court. FWIW, I won $830 from Apple using this very argument. I would be happy to forward them a copy of my written complaint to the Court which sets down my argument regarding the contract. The Court/arbitrator ignored my (beautifully written) complaint because written complaints/motions are not allowed in Small Claims in New York, but it is a good summary of my argument regarding Apple’s “voiding” of AppleCare.

    • LVSinner says:

      @chiieddy:

      No, I would say that smoking around the computer would be classified under “neglect and misuse’. I have worked on plenty of cigarette-stained computers, and its disgusting. It all comes down to the tech working on it if they want to do it. I have passed some filthy ones to other techs, and vise-versa. They do have computer vacuums to clean stuff up also.

      Maybe Apple needs to put some chemical or odor sensors inside the computers and have it display a message or auto shutoff if it ‘senses’ too much second-hand smoke.

  19. cmdrsass says:

    It’s simple. Apple doesn’t want to force its employees to work on a smoker’s computer, because sooner or later those employees will turn around and sue Apple for exposing them to “secondhand smoke” and its residue.

  20. calchip says:

    Seems to me that smoking in the workplace is still a common-enough occurrence that Apple should be obligated to state in their warranty that they reserve the right to void a warranty in the event of serious smoking-related residue. Otherwise, I think the customer has a small claims case.

    Now, that said, I do think it would make sense for Apple to have language in their warranty to the effect that excessive dirt or dust or other material arising from airborne dirt or smoke or other contaminants can, at their discretion, void the warranty.

    I’ve seen (and worked on) computers that have been completely gross because of the environment in which they’re used. But I do think the customer should be warned, in plain language, about the potential for a warranty to be voided as a result of that sort of exposure.

  21. bentcorner says:

    I’d say that anyone who’s worked on a smoker’s computer knows exactly why these computers were denied warranty. It’s hard to believe how much cigarette residue accumulates inside a computer unless you’ve opened one up.

    When I worked as a bench tech for a electronics manufacturer, I would routinely deny warranty if and when the customer allowed a foreign substance to get inside a piece of equipment. Yes, cigarette residue is a foreign substance.

  22. HelloChieftain says:

    Secondhand smoke kills your computer!

    Secondhand smoke makes your Xbox RROD!

    Secondhand smoke causes global warming!

    Secondhand smoke broke up the Beatles!

    Secondhand smoke canceled Firefly!

    You can blame secondhand smoke for everything!

  23. NYGuy1976 says:

    If apple is charging extra for applecare, they have a duty to let customers know what is and isn’t covered. If apple thinks smoking around computers is a bio hazard they should say so up front. Not after the fact.

  24. RecordStoreToughGuy_RidesTheWarpOfSpaceIntoTheWombOfNight says:

    If a warranty wouldn’t cover water damage caused by a user deliberately pouring liquids on a computer, why would it cover other damage specifically caused by the user, however unintentionally?

  25. lannister80 says:

    I used to be a Mac Genius, and believe me when I say a heavy smoker’s computer can easily be damaged by tar. This was back in like 2002 though, and I was at no point given instruction to not fix computers whose innards were tar-coated.

    It coats every surface (especially near the fan) with an almost fluorescent, translucent orange resin that absolutely REEKS of ashtray. The smell is beside the point, but smoking near computers with fans will results in a lot of residue all over the inside.

    In can (and does) gum things up (like fans), coats optical sensors, etc. Bad news.

  26. YouDidWhatNow? says:

    If you’re irrational enough to buy a Mac, you should be irrational enough to accept their argument here.

  27. TheMonkeyKing says:

    If Applecare does not list “second-hand smoke” as a reason for voiding the warranty then I suggest these people take it up with their State’s Attorney General and their local news station. Both are very easy to get to.

  28. He says:

    “. . . nicotine is on OSHA’s list of hazardous substances . . .”

    My understanding is that nicotine is not really the cancer causing part of cigarettes. It’s all the other crap. Nicotine gets you kinda high, makes your brain work faster, and is addictive, but not really hazardous on it’s own.

    • sqlrob says:

      @He: “Nicotine gets you kinda high, makes your brain work faster, and is addictive, but not really hazardous on it’s own. “

      IIRC the numbers from my psychopharmacology course, LD/ED is around 3-4. FDA doesn’t like anything less than 10.

  29. JohnDeere says:

    if it wasnt in the EULA that they couldnt agree to before they bought the computer, i dont think that apple is right on this one.

  30. DoubleK63 says:

    Hmmmm…so if I smoke a cig, then write a check to pay them for a computer – would they not accept my check?

    • Anathema777 says:

      @DoubleK63: That doesn’t even make sense. The check will not be damaged by the smoke. The check will not have tar build-up from the smoke. No one will have to be in significant contact with the check.

  31. Triterion says:

    Typewriters never fail from too much smoke. Time to go back to old Underwood!

  32. godospoons says:

    Try getting it repaired at an Apple-certified repair facility where they do the work in-house. Small Dog in Vermont has a fantastic, certified repair arm that is run by amazing folks and can be billed back against your AppleCare certification.

    • soloudinhere says:

      @godospoons: When I worked there, you couldn’t mail in for a repair, so unless you’re local to northern vermont (who is??) SmallDog themselves are not an option…

      the service center where I work now may be more liberal with applecare, but in the case of a smoke damaged computer, the tech’s kindness may be heavily dependent on how nice you are when you bring the computer in, since working on that and fudging the paperwork for you is entirely at their discretion.

  33. csupinski says:

    I think the simply solution to this problem is to stop smoking and eliminate these problems completely. If you ever go into the home of a smoker you’ll notice everything has a yellow tinge and I’m guessing that anything with a fan in it (like a computer) will look a whole lot worse, trust me, I’ve seen the damage it does.

  34. vladthepaler says:

    If the damage is really caused by cigarette smoke, I agree i should not be covered under warranty. If the computer is defective and just happens to smell like smoke, I can kind of see Apple’s point–I know I wouldn’t want to stick my face in something smelling like that–but it should probably be stated somewhere in the warranty that smoking around the computer voids the warranty.

  35. kinickie says:

    It’s hard to judge without pictures, but as someone who repaired computers for several years, I can say that the tar and nicotine residue that builds up from frequent exposure to second hand smoke can be a health hazard. We would only repair them if the customer paid extra for a cleaning first, and that involved protective eye wear and face masks.

  36. drayzel says:

    Of the “nastiest” machines I have ever worked on all but one were owned by smokers. Generally the grime clogs up CPU, Video, System and PSU fans. Replacing those parts and a nice clean out would usually fix it. It’s a rather disgusting job and a PITA on a laptop.

    The absolute worst system I ever worked on was from local Garage, it was full all sorts of dust as it was in the shop next to their brake station. (Yum! ASBESTOS!) I replaced the components that had fans with silent versions using passive cooling. The only weak spot was the PSU, at the time it was hard finding a quality one without a fan, but we settled on one with a massive fan that would hold up better against the dust. It’s been stable since then as far as I know.

    As for Apple voiding the warranty for this issue, I do understand why they would do it, and I’d guess they have a policy in place where an employee can refuse to work on such a machine without repercussion, otherwise if the warranty (extended or otherwise) was void I’m sure they would fix it for a fee.

  37. all4jcvette says:

    So I’ve been an IT guy for almost 20 years, build most of my own machines, and have never smoked a day in my life. I used to work, a long time ago, and an HP, Dell, and Apple repair center. I’d really like to know what kind of “Test” they do to determine it was in a smokers house? If it’s a sniff test, or some kind of chemical wipe, you can get that from just about anywhere you travel. Sound like both of these people need to file a complaint with the State AG’s office, and file a small claims suit in small claims court.

  38. Jeangenie says:

    Spell out the smoking exclusion very obnoxiously clearly before the customer buys the computer AND the warranty.

    This is a crappy business practice. Just grab the hard drive and give them a refurb.

  39. Subsound says:

    If it’s not covered there needs to be a something in the contract to explain that. To me it’s just another reason to void warranties, not that damage is not done by smoking (especially heavy smoking) and it’s nasty.

    They tried to use it to deny fixing my wife’s TiBook’s keyboard, saying they didn’t cover smoking. Well, she has smoke induced asthma…not just mild, but bad enough it could put her in the hospital if she puffed. Even though I could see no smoke damage, I almost had to pull her medical record to prove it before they quit their bitching.

  40. Scuba Steve says:

    I know I might be jumping the gun on this, and I suggest going through every other possible channel before hand, but..

    ..Small claims?

    I understand that smoking can cause gunk build-up, but where in the Applecare warranty package does it say that it voids the warranty?

    I think a judge would have a differing opinion than Apple when it comes to warranty obligations.

  41. CVonSkeletor says:

    Slightly unrelated, but I cannot even tell you how many xbox 360 trade ins I refuse at gamestop because the system casing (which is SUPPOSED to be white) is brownish yellow due to exposure to cigarette smoke. And they stink like hell! Who would ever want to buy that?!

  42. shepd says:

    Having worked in the electronics repair industry, smoking around your equipment a lot deposits stick tar residue on it. The tar picks up airborne contaminants. The contaminants then:

    - Overheat the components
    – Are mildly conductive and short out items
    – Are ridiculously gross

    Considering that overheating components and shorting out components are the biggest causes of failure for most things, I can see why they would refuse repairing a device that, quite literally, was destroyed by the user’s own actions.

  43. LoganAdams says:

    You wouldn’t believe the tar and smoke crap I cleaned out of my typewriter to get it into working condition again.

  44. asten77 says:

    Normally, most everything Apple does strikes me as anticompetitive and evil. This, however, I wholeheartedly applaud. That stuff is the most disgusting thing I ever encountered working IT.

  45. spittingangels says:

    I’m what you might call a former casual smoker. I’ve worked on some computers of my heavier smoking friends and relatives and the layers of tar and dust built up inside of them was heavily concentrated and made me a bit nauseous just getting a whiff upon opening the case. This coming from someone that smoked at the time. So I can imagine how sickly it might make a nonsmoker.

    While I’m sympathetic to the rights for smokers to have the choice and freedom to do so, that right doesn’t extend to subjecting a nonsmoker to their toxic results. My advice would be to try and find a local certified repair shop that may not mind working on such a machine and not raise a concern.

    Another thing to consider here that is that a dust/smoke/tar combo is not simply dust and does contain toxic and corrosive chemicals and also does manifest in a different physical form, becoming a coated, gooey substance on the electrical components that often can reduce their lifespan significantly.

    Here is the relevant part of Apple’s standard warranty:
    “This warranty does not apply: (a) to consumable parts, such as batteries, unless damage has occurred due to
    a defect in materials or workmanship; (b) to cosmetic damage, including but not limited to scratches, dents
    and broken plastic on ports; (c) to damage caused by use with non-Apple products; (d) to damage caused
    by accident, abuse, misuse, flood, fire, earthquake or other external causes;”

    Cigarette smoke/tar would fall under damage caused by other external causes, essentially.

  46. StanTheManDean says:

    Apple did bad?

    How dare they, now we can’t critize PC because Apple is the same.

    Oh, that is right, Apple is worse than PC. Anybody remember the finger pointing between Apple and Adobe?

  47. crichton007 says:

    Sounds like it’s a case for small claims court.

  48. JohnDeere says:

    sounds like a design flaw to me. if air isnt supposed to get in there they should figure out another way to cool it.

  49. cabalist says:

    #1 – It isn’t in MY applecare warranty that they won’t repair it if I smoke, however they do list other reasons. Also, there are many occupations where people deal with OSHA-rated hazardous chemicals. So that ain’t no kind of answer.

    #2 – I got a macbook from a former user that smoked. For almost a year it would make me nauseous, really nauseous, if I ever used it long enough for it to get warm and start to REALLY SMELL. I wiped it with alcohol wipes over and over again, vacuumed it, etc. but really it just took time.

    So, I understand, but they are going to need to update the verbiage for their contracts.

  50. SarahKH says:

    Speaking as a smoker, yes I know what tar does. I also know that to get the levels people keep bitching about you seriously have to smoke around it.

    However, smoking is perfectly legal as far as I’m aware in your own home… unless you Americans have gone that big brother already.

    If the documentation does not specifically state smoking around it violates the machines warranty then Apple needs to send a tech out, put some gloves on and get busy with the fizzy.

    What next “Sorry, can’t repair that, you own a cat and it could be an alergen”.

    • Kaosian says:

      @SarahKH: Smoking is legal. the problem is that a smoked filled environment is neglect tot he pc and damage from neglect is not covered. Its as simple as that.

  51. yagisencho says:

    I bought a refurbished monitor for my brother for Christmas many years ago. The only thing refurbished about it was that it was shipped in a new, plain cardboard box. The monitor itself had apparently seen many years service in the home of a heavy smoker. Sony monitors at the time were all produced with beige plastic, but this thing was caramel-colored.

    So…Apple’s policy seems equal parts BS, OSHA-related, and genuine hardware abuse. I’d be tempted to take the same approach if I were in their shoes.

    Now…whose attorney general do I approach regarding the condition of ‘refurbished’ hardware?

  52. edicius is an acquired taste says:

    Maybe I was just meticulous with keeping my computers clean, but both my old desktop and laptop never suffered from smoker-related damage and I used to smoke two packs a day, often while at the computer. That desktop is no longer with me but it had nothing to do with smoking – it was an old P3 and it was just too underpowered by that point. The laptop is still with me and while not my primary machine, it still works just as well as it did the day I bought it maybe 6 years ago.

    Either the original complainants are fudging some of the facts (that there’s a LOT more smoking going on than what they’re telling us) or Apple are being a bunch of pretentious douches.

  53. [DFX] Deimos says:

    Way to further cement your hipster douche bag image Apple.

  54. c_c says:
  55. saltyoak says:

    I think Apple machine must suck. I’ve smoked alot and have never had a Microsoft computer fail or be filled with muck EVER.

    Thanks for the post I was considering an apple but if their customers don’t matter I won’t be one of them. Yes I have been inside all of my computer.

  56. Munchie says:

    For the iMac APP customers can call in an request an onsite. The mac book is going to need an AASP (Apple Authorized Service provider) certified to work on portables.

  57. VictorOfBorge says:

    Two thoughts. First, if Apple is concerned about OSHA HAZMAT substances, computers are full of hazardous materials far more dangerous than nicotine.

    Second, if true, the complainants need to file complaints with their state Attorney Generals office for warranty fraud. They may also be able to file in small claims court, as well.

  58. Luftvier says:

    Jeez, you anti smokers are terribly annoying and condescending. I bet not a one of you is overweight. Fat people around computers is simply disgusting. They leave food crumbs in the keyboards and gum up the works with spilled 64 oz sodas. Vile.

    That aside, Apple should honor its warranty and fix the dammed computer, or specifically list smoking as a cause for not repairing.

  59. feckingmorons says:

    Just sue them. You don’t have to put up with that stupidity.

  60. Mythandros says:

    For the first time… ever.. I agree with Mac.

    Smoking is hazardous and I would NOT want to touch a filty computer brought in by a drug addict (Smoking IS a drug addiction, face it.) and then risk having to touch that filth. Do you have any idea just gow many chemicals are in cigarette smoke? Tons.

    Combining the two things I loathe, smoking and macs makes for a great article full of laughs for me.

    Kudos to Mac for not enabling a drug addiction!

    And in case anyone decides to call me a troll, or try to report me for breaking the rules here.. good luck. I’m not blaming the consumer anywhere in my post, nor am I being a troll (I know some of you will disagree, but the intelligent ones will see the point I’m trying to make)

    If you want to “contaminate” your electronics, be my guest, but I think Apple is absolutely in the right in reserving the right to not work in biohazardous conditions.

    And in case any of you are quick to rush to conclusions and judgement (and face it, a lot of you are, myself included), I am NOT a smoker, nor will I ever make a choice THAT stupid.

    Have a good night!

  61. cfw123 says:

    I totally agree that no employee should be required to work on a smoke contaminated computer, whatever the brand. I personally wouldn’t touch it, so why should anyone else?

    I ask smokers I see smoking in public why they want to commit suicide in public, and they have no answer. So why should a computer want to commit computerside in public either, if only it could talk.

    I’m already 83 years old, in perfect health, and have never smoked. But my best friend from childhood was dead at 40 from heavy smoking, with consequential lung cancer. I’d suspect that smoking around your computer will cut it’s effective life in half as well. Why would you want to do that to your trusty computer?

    • bainelaker says:

      @cfw123:

      Maybe self-righteous dicks like yourself are the reason smokers want to “commit public suicide”. To not live to be an 83-year-old tool walking around bugging people about their own damn choice.

  62. MrEvil says:

    I totally back Apple’s decision 100% to deny warranty claims because of damage due to cigarette smoke residue.

    The people telling Apple to go ahead and fix the machines I reckon have never even touched a system that’s been around a smoker. Seriously, they always end up with this gummy sticky dust that has to be scrubbed off. Fans fail, heatsinks get coated and this is the source of your ills.

    If you smoke and want your computer to not break, put the cancer sticks down and DON’T SMOKE NEAR VALUABLE ELECTRONIC EQUIPMENT!

  63. baristabrawl says:

    Um. So many of the Geniuses at my local Denver stores smoke. You can smell it on them while they’re talking down to you about your lack of upgradyness.

    It’s too much. I just want a working computer and to not be mocked for not being an early adopter.

  64. Tratios says:

    Not sure what the issue is, seems like breech of contract, very simple to get fixed. The idea what since the device was in a smoke environment makes it a bio-hazard is flawed, even if the person used the keyboard as a ashtray, its just ash. Granted that would void the warrenty for it being damaged by the user but not as a bio-hazard.

    • Worldwalker says:

      @Tratios:

      The word biohazard has been horribly misused throughout this. A biohazard is something that’s infectious, not something that’s toxic. I’m not sure which of them started using it — Apple, one of the Mac owners, or the writer for Consumerist.

  65. soloudinhere says:

    OK. For the last time. A lawsuit, etc, etc is completely inappropriate because there is language in the warranty that specifically states that damaged components due to user misuse, abuse, or unsuitable environment are not covered by the warranty.

    Unless the computer is spontaneously generating a layer of tar (my macbook and macbook pro don’t) then it is something in the computer’s environment that caused the tar to accumulate.

    If a fan is covered in tar, and the computer is overheating, there is no way you can try to logically conclude that the fan being full of gunk was not related to the overheating.

    Smoking is an especially difficult one because the tar accumulation can damage the internal components, solder joints, etc and directly cause a NUMBER of failures that wouldn’t have happened but for the presence of a nice chemical goo.

    Consumers who have had coverage denied under applecare can request to cancel their applecare coverage and recieve a pro-rata refund of the purchase price if they contact AppleCare. That’s what these customers should do.

    The AppleCare terms do not specifically enumerate orange juice as a warranty voider, but we denied service last week to someone whose motherboard was covered in solidified tang. Apple is not legally required to enumerate every possible circumstance that could lead to denial of service…if it logically follows that the computer would not be covered in gunk if the user didn’t smoke, then it’s the same thing as if the user decided to systematically coat their computer’s internals in glue for fun.

    Ignorance is not a defense…if you don’t know smoking might damage your computer, I guess you just found out, huh?

  66. Smorgasbord says:

    The biggest problem with the smoke building up in the computer is the moisture. Dust, tar, etc., collects moisture. If they get wet enough the current can travel from one point to another THROUGH the stuff. This really messes up a computer. It is kind of like your brain on drugs.

    You can tell how fast smoke builds up by seeing how fast a smoker’s car windows cloud over. I hardly ever have to clean mine.

  67. incident_man says:

    If Apple is not going to honour warranties on smokers’ computers, they need to put it in writing so that it can be seen before the system is purchased. I know they won’t do that though because it would give some folks another reason to buy an Apple.

    Steve Jobs is a d*ck anyway.

  68. archpope says:

    Another firsthand story:

    Many years ago, when I was a PC tech for a small shop, a customer who reeked of tobacco brought in a desktop computer which he said had just stopped working. After he left, we opened up the computer to discover that the inside of the computer was covered with a thick red dust. We knew instantly it was from smoking. We took it out back and blew air from the compressor on it. This created a cloud of dust about the size of a car, that thankfully floated upward.
    We told the customer that the problem was caused by cigarette smoke, and that we recommend he didn’t smoke in the same room as the computer anymore. However, since there was no warranty involved, we would be happy to repair it regularly at our usual prices.

  69. iantm says:

    Moral of the story – Take your computer to a local independent Apple reseller for service. As a former Apple service tech – if you go to a local indy shop that does warranty work – odds are that it’ll actually be fixed with a minimum in complaints because of the simple fact that if they piss you off – you don’t come back and don’t refer people. Large corporation Apple isn’t as worried about customers on the same one to one ratio. Also, a good percentage of techs smoke.

  70. lestat730 says:

    Even if it was dangerous and contaminated, they should suck it up and put on some latex gloves. Macs and Applecare are not cheap, this sounds like a great way to lose customers.

  71. MSUHitman says:

    If anyone wants to see what tar can do to electronics, I have some pics of an Oreck air purifier in the process of being cleaned that was used in a smoker’s home. It’s not pretty.

  72. deserttoadd says:

    Sue Steve Jobs personally in small claims court for the cost of having the item fixed somewhere else. Apple is not allowed to send lawyers to these court proceedings in California. Breach of Contract is a slam dunk. And don’t forget to subpeona Mr. Jobs as to why he has directed such stupidity to become company policy.

    • soloudinhere says:

      @deserttoadd: Unless the incident took place in Cupertino, California, they can’t sue steve jobs personally in small claims.

      There must be a representative entity in the district in which you intend to file suit, so in the case of Apple, you have to serve the local Apple store with papers. If you want to sue steve jobs, it would have to be in the county where he lives and or works.

  73. DanGarion says:

    Wait, the computer has cigarette tar inside it? Sounds like grounds to void the warranty to me. If you worked in a very humid location with a computer and there were water deposits it would be void as well. Good for Apple.

  74. Tankueray says:

    I have seen some really nasty computers. You can’t have a weak stomach or some forms of OCD and work on a computer. How many nasty keyboards and skin-junky mice have you ever laid hands on? [gross out shiver] If Apple clearly explained that user abuse voided the warranty and then offered to work on it if the customer paid for it, I don’t know how I’d feel either. Many people feel very entitled nowadays and aren’t willing to pay a fair price for a service performed.

    I just cleaned out my old deep fryer today because I upgraded, and the residue around the white shell and lid reminded me of this type of gunk.

    Yeah, it’s nasty.

    • gc3160thtuk says you got your humor in my sarcasm and you say you got your sarcasm in my humor says:

      wth are skin-junky mice? I’m not saying I disagree with you but I do agree with your assertion that working with people’s computers is disgusting, especially when they smoke. I have had to do several clean-outs for smokers because the tar and shit was killing their computers but I have never dealt with skin-junky mice, or I might have but since I need a definition I can’t say if I have or not.

  75. Froggmann says:

    So what’s the next apple warranty cop-out? “If you have ever powered on your apple product it has just voided the warranty?”

  76. Froggmann says:

    If she were in the states I’m sure she could sue the insurance agent for practicing medicine without a license.

  77. Red Cat Linux says:

    I can’t disagree with Apple on this one. I’m a tech, and I am allergic to ciggy smoke. The residue left by constant smoking while using the computer is astonishing.

    I would have deemed it an environmental issue as well, even though the warranty does not spell out ciagrette smoke specifically.

    I’ve had another tech dump hot chocolate into a printer, and not say anything until it was discovered. HP honestly doesn’t care that lots of people enjoy hot chocolate, and that people choose to drink it while operating their devices. They DO care if you try and hand in that sticky mess and claim warranty support, even though hot chocolate is not listed in the environmental hazards that would void the warranty.

    Enjoy your hot chocolate, and your smokes, away from your electronics if you want to avoid this.

  78. Dirtybot says:

    I work in the slot machine industry and the games and seats we remove from casinos smell absolutely DISGUSTING from being surrounded by smoke 24/7 (in the state I live in, the only places you can legally smoke indoors are casinos), and slot machines are essentially big computers. However, we haven’t ever had a single one fail due to being in a smoking environment. As far as being a ‘biohazard’ goes, I suppose that’s up to Apple determining what they will and won’t expose their employees to, but if they aren’t going to honor their warranty because smoking damages their computers, I have to call shenanigans.

  79. jiarby says:

    I had a customer with a PC that was killed from a buildup of smoke/tar slime mixed with dust bunnies and pet hair completely blocked all the vent & fan openings. COMPLETELY! The thing overheated and died.

    I told him I wasn’t gonna touch it… get a new one.

  80. Foolking says:

    I work in the IT industry. Before I repaired Network’s I used to repair computers. Smokers who smoke in the house with their computers DO get a nasty gunk in there machines. You can ALMOST always get it out with an air compressor or simply by wiping it off with your hand. It DOES ruin fans and it CAN cause problems with HDDs and Optical Drives. But all of that is NO excuse to deny someone service. Use gloves and thoroughly clean the computer. If it does not explicitly state somewhere in the apple care plan that a laptop in the presence of smoke has a voided warranty then apple needs to spend $0.2 on gloves for their techs and man up. This is Nanny State BS.

  81. bippal says:

    Worked at Rent-A-Center for a few years before I came a manager, and we would open computers up all the time that were FILLED with residue from smoking, and it would mess things up all the time.

  82. peterfedric says:

    I can’t believe that smoke effects electronic items so this is a very interesting blog with such information.Smoking is very bad for health and second-hand smoke is really to dangerous.I hate smoking that bad smell of smoke is intolerable don’t know how people have it. survival kits

  83. rhlord says:

    The iMac was under two years old – required by my son’s school. The Applecare warranty has a year remaining on it. It does not state, nor was I told when I purchased it, that secondhand smoke would void my warranty. A SMART test was run on the iMac and it passed – negating Apple’s statement that the “hard drive is about to fail.” It is simply a defective optical drive.

    Approx. 47.1 million Americans smoke (American Heart Assn)- making it fairly commonplace. Use of a vague and undefined exclusionary clause cannot be expected to apply to a common occurrence. Other manufacturers who limit their liability to cigarette smokers explicitly define this in their warranty (see Planar’s warranty at: [www.planar.com]). No information was provided to educate me that Apple computers were not durable enough to hold up in common environmental conditions.

    I don’t smoke. I don’t like secondhand smoke. But, I honor my promises and Apple’s warranty is a promise to repair or replace the computer I purchased. Period.

  84. Terracite says:

    So where does Apple draw the line?

    If you live out in a rural area and don’t have natural gas or oil heat and rely on a wood stove and use your Mac close by, if you get particulate inside will they not honour the warranty for the same reason?

  85. Bronco46 says:

    I’ve been using Mac’s since 92 and am a loyal Apple person. But things are getting a little tedious at Apple. But, this is really some crap. Apple should stick to selling their computers and stop trying to socially engineer people, and stand behind their products like they used to. I don’t remember them saying there was a no smoking clause in the Apple Care Agreement.
    I guess with Apple being in California it was inevitable that they would wind up going over the top on this green stuff. With windows 7 coming closer to user friendly experience they are looking like a less distasteful alternative to have green issues, and other politically correct issues forced on us.

  86. lambdadao says:

    To paraphrase another post in another forum “people who have never seen the damage a heavy smoker does to a computer need to shut up.”

    Oh, and hard drives are NOT sealed. All disk based hard drives have holes which are marked “Warranty void if this hole is blocked”. These draw air into hard drives. Prolonged exposure to cigarette smoke absolutely will gum up a hard drive.

  87. mr.goodvibes says:

    And yet another reason why Macs aren’t worth the money… lazy tech support, and a greedy upper management staff

  88. ladyc04 says:

    what about weed? i smoke herb in front of my mac all the time…and its still trucking…matter fact all my hipster loser wanna be art student friends smoke in front of their macs..a

  89. Bitemetwiceover says:

    Wow, it’s hard to believe the lies I see here from fanatical anti-smoke trolls. I have fixed my own and my family/friends computers for years now and have NEVER seen tar build-up in a machine regardless of how much the owner smoked. Some of these machines came from homes where two people smoked a total of five packs a day between them, and when I opened them up I just blew off the dust and went on my way to fix them. No tar – no gunk – no disgusting residue. Yeah the outsides sometimes and a brown/yellow film, which you wipe off with a paper towel and some alcohol.
    Lying via exaggeration because you hate smokers is not cool.

  90. Nelson Ng says:

    Apple has always been very borish about itself, since the days of it’s formation. This is one of the main reasons I refuses to buy a SINGLE Apple product. Each sale will only boost Apple’s borishness.

    So what’s next? “Apple refuses to fix a customer’s computer after they found porn movies in the harddisk and believes that (stale) biohazard wastes left after a porn session is hazardous to the health and well-being of it’s staff ….” LOL!!!!

    • Nelson Ng says:

      Pardon my correction: …

      Apple has always been very snobish about itself, since the days of it’s formation. This is one of the main reasons I refuses to buy a SINGLE Apple product. Each sale will only boost Apple’s snobishness.

      So what’s next? “Apple refuses to fix a customer’s computer after they found porn movies in the harddisk and believes that (stale) biohazard wastes left after a porn session is hazardous to the health and well-being of it’s staff ….” LOL!!!!

  91. xanxer says:

    That’s when you send them a court summons for fraud. Selling fraudulent warranties seems to be a big part of corporate america’s way to grab extra cash.

  92. SpiderPaintingDollars says:

    As Coan_net said above, smoke can definitely damage computers. I’m not surprised Apple allows techs to decline repair on such computers. I do believe it clearly states (though I’m not for sure, its been a while since I read any of my AppleCare contracts) that if Apple declines to repair a computer, it is their prerogative. As mentioned, Apple defers to the technicians judgment most of the time. And when visiting a *REAL* Apple Genius Bar, you’re not talking to two bit technicians. You’re talking to Apple employees who spent two weeks of training at Cupertino, have at least three Apple Certifications (as required), and have had retail training. You can’t even get through the Genius door without having passed initial exams before they ship you off. So you’re not talking your 16 year old next door neighbor. This seriously comes as no surprise to me. There is also the fact that Apple computers are pretty well sealed up when comparing them to most beige boxes or plastic Dell laptops. True, they’re not hermetically sealed (you do need a fan after all), but when enough smoke residue is accumulating to make techs that work for Apple, and *don’t* work for Apple (obviously not being “elitest” as some might think of the Apple techs), reject your repairs then it is time to quit smoking and get a new computer. I mean, you did pay $3K for your kids iMac, yeah, I paid thousands for my Macs too, but people don’t think about this. No I’m not attacking the OP, I’m saying that if you’re going to endanger yourself, don’t whine about that endangering acitvitys effect on your stuff. Personally, I decline working on “smoked out” computers, too. I’m all for freedoms but just because I don’t want to get tobacco mess on my hands does not mean, as zentex said above, I’m a “…anti-smoking liberal who hates freedom…..” (quote modified for grammatical correctness in this context). I’m an open-minded liberal who prefers not to be legally obligated to get possibly carcinogenic residues on my hands because you need a light up.

    Put that in your pipe and smoke it?

  93. Altari says:

    I’m a smoker and have never seen a computer (of my own or smoker-friends) that has gunky build-up inside. The worst I’ve ever gotten is a bit of ash on my keyboard. I have found crayons, food, fur and so forth inside compies I’ve worked on…But, that’s neither here nor there.

    While the APP doesn’t mention ETS, tar or nicotine specifically, it does mention “abuse,” “extreme environment,” and “other external causes.” If Apple can prove that the machine is broken as a direct result of exposure to ETS, then, unfortunately, even I have to agree with them. ETS isn’t exactly within the normal operating parameters for a computer. In that case, it’s not “discrimination” against smokers, it’s just common sense.

    A bad fan can easily be listed as “normal wear and tear or otherwise due to normal aging,” especially if the owner didn’t take due diligence in clearing it out.

    However, I would like to know how working on a nicotine exposed product is a violation of OSHA. OSHA has listed allowable limits for all harmful chemicals and it boggles my mind to think that there would be enough nicotine stuck to a laptop that it would violate those guidelines.

  94. ncbill says:

    The problem Apple has is that they do not specifically mention tobacco smoke in either the standard warranty or Applecare.

    They do have language vague enough that it could be used to justify warranty refusal if I:

    1. live in a home heated with wood
    2. live in Texas (and their repair techs suffer from “cedar fever”)
    3. live in a home with plaster instead of wallboard (dustier)

    I’m skeptical Apple’s justification would survive even small claims court in my tobacco-friendly state.

    Also keep in mind that extended warranties like Applecare are really insurance products usually heavily regulated by your state (for those in the U.S.)

    Ultimately your individual state gets to decide if Apple’s interpretation on tobacco smoke is valid (at least if Apple wants to keep selling their extremely lucrative Applecare there)

    Notice in all the news stories here and elsewhere Apple itself makes NO official comment, as Apple understands they’ll need to evaluate (and litigate) on a case-by-case basis.

  95. Mhz says:

    I’ve worked on machines (PCs, Macs and Servers) that have been absolutely filled to the brim with dust and fluff. I spend 15 years working corporate and public sector IT support and if I told my management I wouldn’t work on a box because it was a health hazard I’d have been laughed out of the office. It was just part of the job, we were provided with gloves and disposable masks for use in the worst cases as well as a supply of cleaning products. BERing a 2yr old machine because it’s got a bit of tar inside and needs maybe £100 of replacement parts might work in a corporate environment with 3 year life-cycles, but using it as a loop-hole to escape retail warranty repairs is overly harsh. 10 minutes with a vacuum cleaner, some isopropyl and cotton buds plus and 20 minutes to replace the HDD, OD and maybe the fans.

    In the UK at least products have to be “fit for purpose” and selling such products to home users obviously means that they will be supplied to people who smoke, which would imply that the manufacturer would have to specifically state in the items specifications that the operating environment should be smoker-free, which in turn would probably be taken as infringing on some human right or other.

    Personally I have no problem working on smokers machines, I’ve had to deal with PCs full of dust, dog and human hair, several time on ones infested with dust mites and/or fleas as well on one memorable occasion one with half a rotten roast chicken forced inside. A little bit of tar would be a nice quick friday-afternoon job. Sounds to me like the “techs” are more than a little work-shy.

  96. JohnBB says:

    Where is the bio-hazard?
    Apple, like the blog writer, has been brainwashed by the antismoker cult. They have become [inadvertent?] devotees. The smoke ‘residue’ (brownish film) is Solanesol which is not toxic. There is nicotine in tobacco leaf. However, once burned, the smoke (and residue) does not contain nicotine. The idea that this represents a ‘bio-hazard’ is delusional, a projection of antismoking hatred. Apple should be taken to task on their ‘bio-hazard’ claim. By the way, nicotine is also present in tomatoes, potatoes, egg plant, black tea. One of the broken down components of nicotine is nicotinic acid – also known as niacin or vitamin B3. Beware when fanatics dictate public policy – propaganda substitutes for actual information.

    _

  97. FXR says:

    Shouldn’t someone be reporting Apple for contravention of well established health and safety regulations.

    If they admit their employees during assesment of computers, might in their own opinion, be expossed to a bio-hazard. Why has the company not provided their Genius crowd with bio-hazard suits, to protect them from the known and long understood yet “unavoidable exposures” they are claiming could seriously affect the health of their own workers.

    The case is confirmed by their own public statements. They are likely killing millions of “geniuses” by failing to implement a best practices approach. How much is that going to cost them, when an Apple described “genius” is put at an avoidable and careless risk to their health, just to cash out and make a quick buck? The costs could run into the hundreds of millions if just one of the genius crowd starts a class action and claims work exposure caused cancer or any of the well established “smoking related diseases” for that matter.

    Apple employees should be wearing Haz-matt suits, as an obligation of employment. That is if we can believe everything they are telling us.

  98. FXR says:

    If tobacco smoke can damage components, this would indicate poor engineering practices and a deficit by design failures. It could not be said that smoking by a consumer was a surprise, with 60 million plus smokers among the adult population of the USA alone.

    If there is a problem, blaming the consumer is a poor and might I ad amateurish way of dealing with that problem.

    Apple will always be looking up, to the leaders in the field. Their second class attitude shines through every time.

  99. aptadmin says:

    I don’t have a lot of sympathy. I opened a Mac owned by a ship’s master. It had memory problems and a non-functioning Zip drive. Inside everything was coated with a tawny color and was unbelievably sticky. No safe solvent we had would remove the stuff. After washing my hands several times, I could still feel the residue.

    We concluded the Zip heads were probably coated with the same crap and stickiness in the memory sockets prevented upgrades. I don’t blame Apple for refusing to honor the warranty under similar circumstances.

  100. Air conditioning says:

    I suggest that we need to quit smoking while hands on the computer to avoid the damage on the computer if we do it our self it will also prevent us from ill. Oklahoma Electrical Services and Repair

  101. ojsamson says:

    You gotta be kidding. There’s millions of 40-year smokers walking among us, as healthy as the next guy, who have inhaled billions of times the amount of residue that someone’s going to get by touching the inside of a computer. Geez. So is Apple instructing their sales reps to say “Sorry, we can’t sell you a computer because we’re not obligated to touch your stinky, smoky credit card”?

  102. taylorlautnerfanboy says:

    I am not a smoker and have never been, nor am I a drinker like so many. I find it ridicules that Apple will honor warranty repairs for drunks that spill liquor on their computers, yet refuse smokers the ability to have their products repaired under the coverage that they paid for. I have been at the Apple store in Towson Maryland which is a big drinker town with all of the college students in the area that attend the university there, witnessing this while in line at the “genius bar” on two different occasions is just disgusting in every way.

    I grew up with 3 smokers, now I do know that it is not healthy to smoke in any way, nor is it so for drinking……it is just such a double standard for smokers though. Those that drink do seem to have everything in their favor, yet smokers are pushed around and not treated very well. Just look at the cigarette tax vs. the alcohol taxes, the first is raised every time the government wants someone to bail out the public with tax funds, yet the bingers do not need to worry about it because their tax has not been raised in 20+ years.

    A bit one sided, don’t you think??? I say we ban both cigarettes and alcohol for all, not just for some. That is unfortunately the american way, allowing some to indulge and refusing others.

    What a shame that these people paid for the products plus the extended warranty coverage then get screwed after paying for it and expecting it to be there when they needed it most.

  103. Winteridge2 says:

    Just another excuse to quit smoking. I will agree with it.

  104. FundamentalTheroem says:

    Amusing article. These customers won’t find any sympathy from me. Let’s face it, they’re probably not the brightest LED in the array. Not only do they smoke, they smoke INSIDE their homes. Nuff said.

    So to the warranty issue. Whether the hardware failure was smoke-related is irrelevant. If the technicians did find residue on any parts it would be easy to say it was being used in an “improper environment”, thus clearing them of any warranty commitments. Perhaps I would take the owner’s side if Apple refused repairs because of “too much dust”, but the owners in this situation clearly did not hold up their end of the warranty agreement.

    “This computer is less than 2 years old! Only one person in my household smokes – one 21 year old college student”.

    Does this mean you would understand if it were two retirees? Laughable.

  105. lbrother says:

    If a warranty wouldn’t cover water damage caused by a user deliberately pouring liquids on a computer, why would it cover other damage specifically caused by the user

  106. Benjamin says:

    Anyone who thinks that this is ridiculous has never seen the inside of a smoker’s computer before.

    Have a peek: http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2462/3750243698_321b62d64d.jpg

  107. drburk says:

    I get paid by apple to smoke next to computer so they don’t have to worry about the warranty.

  108. ceez says:

    i dont smoke, and with that said

    lol….apple doesnt like smokers. put that in your pipe and smoke it!

    and if you had a pc you could of probably fixed it yourself or sent it to many pc repair shops that dont wear hazmat suits when fixing pc’s!

    ok apple fan, fire away!

  109. guroth says:

    They are going with the “hazardous” excuse because there is no checkbox on their reply form for “the insides of your computer are so fucking disgusting from you chain smoking next to it on the porch of starbucks 4 days a week for the past 2 years”

    The insides of smokers computers are D I S G U S T I N G.

    The only thing that makes the inside of a computer worse is if the chain smoker has several long haired cats as well.

  110. SmokingReb says:

    I’m a little late in the game on this post but……..I’ve smoked for over 50 years, just got my 3rd eMachine. Power supplies went out on the first 2 after about 5 years, easy to fix. I open them up every year, vaccum out the dust, check for loose connections etc. Don’t have any problems with them.
    Never noticed any caked on sludge like so many have decscribed, but then the tower is usually on the floor, under the desk, with the back of the unit where the fan is located a couple of inches away from the wall. I suspect 99% of computer towers are in the same place, smoking or non smoking. Conclusion? Must be an Apple thing, combined with the fact smoking is blamed for everything from wrinkles on your belly to hair on your toes. Aw well, you all eat food and your turn is coming.;-)

  111. Chaosium says:

    Smoking can ruin electronic devices, gums up fans and connections. When doing repairs on them I’ve never voided warranties for it (just as I’ve never voided warranties for dust or pet hair) but I can understand the perspective.

  112. invisibelle says:

    wow super tldr comments on this one.

    This is undoubtedly about the smell. I used to work in a store that would buy used electronics, and some of them were just so disgustingly polluted. A skilled computer repairperson shouldn’t be forced to stick their face in someone’s gross stinky smokedusty computer.

  113. Poster says:

    I know this is an old story but…..This is the most asinine thing I’ve ever read. Mac’s must be extremely delicate. I have smoked next to my computers (pc’s) for years and I’ve never had the problems these nonsmokers are bitching about. No tar, no build up of anything. Just dust, like everyone else. Perhaps eveyone should stick to PC’s. They can handle a little dirt and dust.

  114. q`Tzal says:

    Believe what you want but there are scientifically verifiable gaseous, liquid and solid particulate carcinogens in normal cigarette smoke.
    Most people are not measurably affected by day to day exposure to cigarette smoke; the biggest complaint being that it stinks, most ignore it. Most non-smokers will get a headache when forced to breath cigarette smoke for more than 2 hours.
    For some people the mere presence of cigarette smoke is enough to cause migraine like cluster headaches within seconds from distances of over 50 feet from a single smoker.

    The problem is that the chemicals that cause these headaches are the same chemicals that remain behind on all surfaces near a smoker.
    Anything with a fan collects more of the carcinogens from cigarette smoke. The liquid and condensed gaseous carcinogens are sticky and accelerate the collection of more of the same.
    Over time the inside of a computer concentrates the amounts of cigarette smoke carcinogens to levels that are much higher than would exist anywhere else.
    Then you send this chemical weapon to some company that is liable for workplace related illnesses.

    Even if you don’t believe in empirically verifiable FACT the simple fact of the matter is that a company like Apple has deep pockets. Apple employes a lot of people. When a small minority of hyper allergic former employees sue for medical costs, disability and punitive damages Apple has much more to lose.

  115. azmountaintroll says:

    I live in a rural area, and my car tends to get dusty and/or muddy, depending on the season. Before I take it to the shop for services, I wash it. This I call ‘common sense’, or courtesy if you like. Since neither sense nor courtesy are common these days, I would suggest that Apple add a ‘Filth’ clause to their warranty. This covers smoking, grease, hair or whatever else may come up. End of problem.

  116. dmiller69 says:

    i am a college student and a lot of people from my bio class smoke (including me) now because the class is two hours long for the lecture and lab we get breaks in between…say i dont smoke but for the breaks i want to go out side to do my homework or something of that sort and i am around smokers (cigarette smoke creates a bio hazard in the computer) my warranty is voided because i used my computer around smokers? no not right if you purchased the extended warranty (smoker or not) it should be covered (unless of course it states in the warranty that it does not cover that kind of damage)

  117. I Love Christmas says:

    Isopropyl Alcohol is not only on the biohazard list, but it is also, the principle agent used to clean electronics……ahhhh…Like computers.

  118. Bloop says:

    I’m surprised that when my smoker boyfriend sent his Apple in for care, that they cited his cat as their excuse for not working on the machine, rather than his smoking. They’ve also done the same to his father, who doesn’t smoke and owns shorthair kitties.

  119. craptastico says:

    @smiling1809: it doesnt say the smoke caused the damage. he says the fan failed causing it to overheat. they just refused to work on the computer because it has been “contaminated”

  120. JohnDeere says:

    @wrjohnston91283: i cant read it. i dont have a computer.

  121. lehrdude says:

    @Covertghost:

    What if I just use a better filter?

  122. Powerlurker says:

    @Covertghost:

    Were they really promoted as healthier? As a non-smoker I was always under the impression that it was more about flavor.

  123. Razor512 says:

    @zentex: I do computer repairs and I can always tell when the owner is a smoker. When a smoker has a laptop or desktop computer, the dirt is always sticky like someone poured syrup into the computer then let dust and hair stick to it. I often have to take these systems completely apart, replace the fans and spend a long time with brushes and other tools and alcohol to clean the heatsink fins. Even with quality fans, the smoke causes gunk to build up on the motors of the fans and they burn out quickly.

    on some computers the hard drive will fail and the breather hole will be covered in dust and sticky gunk, especially when a case fan blows on the hard drive.

    smoking kills living things and it also kills computers

    but apple should still fix it as they did not list anything about smoking in their warranty.

  124. temporaryerror says:

    @Powerlurker:
    It’s toxic but not really carcinogenic…I think that was his point. Many things are toxic in high enough doses.

  125. NatalieErin says:

    @temporaryerror: Actually, everything is toxic in high enough doses. Nicotine happens to have a relatively low dose at which it’s toxic.

  126. cluberti says:

    @sqlrob: I disagree with this. Smoking is abuse to your body, and as someone who’s fixed many a smoker’s PCs I can attest that the tar does damage to the internal components as well. It can easily be chalked up to abuse, which is covered under the warranty. I wouldn’t be against it, but I don’t see a need for it – if it’s bad for you to inhale, it’s probably bad for your electronic equipment as well.

  127. cluberti says:

    @Crim Law Geek: Without photos it’s hard to say what it is in this case, but as anyone who’s seen tar death knows, the resin is glue-like and can easily cause moving parts to fail, including fans. Dust doesn’t cause this usually unless it’s *really* badly coated, whereas even a thin film of tar can gum up a processor fan or GPU fan enough to cause slow spin or even stop the spin altogether, which will cause thermal death fairly quickly. And no, Apple should not have to fix a machine that’s succumbed to this. It would be nice to see pictures of this though to prove Apple’s claims, although I’m guessing we won’t.

  128. Brontide says:

    @Mythandros: If that’s the case then it should be clearly spelled out in the contract and not left to some vague “it’s a biohazard” excuse.

  129. Puddy Tat says:

    So the truth is it is too much work?

  130. Crim Law Geek says:

    @cluberti:
    I would not have a problem with Apple saying “tar killed your fan, we’re not fixing it for free” or even “tar killed your fan, which killed your CPU, we’re not fixing it for free”. Assuming they had some sort of proof, such a finding is well within the letter of the AppleCare warranty contract.

    What Apple is saying is “it smells of tar, warranty void!”. Such a finding is NOT allowed under the AppleCare contract. Read the AppleCare contract over, the ONLY mechanism for voiding the warranty in full is upon application by the customer or Apple AFTER a pro-rated refund. There is absolutely NO mechanism for voiding the entire warranty for damage (short of having damaged every single component).

  131. elizaroo says:

    @Mythandros:
    “Why should I, as a tech, work a a dirty, filty, grime-encrusted computer that the customer is either too lazy to attach the proper value to, or just doesn’t care? Why should I care? Fix it yourself.”

    I imagine you, as a tech, get paid for the work you do? There’s no reason you need to care about someone’s computer, but it is kind of your JOB to fix it. If people stopped doing dumb shit to their computers a lot of people like you would be out of work.

    If, however, you are repairing computers as some kind of charitable act, you should feel totally free to invent your own criteria to determine the worthiness of each computer owner to receive a repair from you.

  132. MrMan09 says:

    @cluberti: Not like we now have instructions on irons that state: Do not attempt to iron clothes while wearing them…. oh wait we do.

    This is a wonderful issue for apple to pick, because of all of the “smoking is the devil” hysteria. They can get nonsmokers to support them, of course that support will change when a nonsmoker gets denied because their machine was exposed to smoke as they walked down the street.

    If it is so harmful and can void the main warranty as well as the extended warranty, they need to spell it out in the contract. You do not have the option to alter the terms of the agreement because you want to later.

  133. kd5jos says:

    @Mythandros:
    Discrimination: unfair treatment of a person or group on the basis of prejudice:
    Sex, race, religion, age, disability, (and depending on the issue) sexual orientation. I don’t see smoking listed.

    So, let’s look at reality. Reality is I choose to smoke, I have a good chance of dying due to the effects smoking has on my body. I accept that risk if I choose to smoke. It can have an effect on sensitive electronic equipment too. Apple didn’t state they accept the risk for my bad decisions. They didn’t waive any right they have not to repair my computer under warranty by selling me a an extended warranty and not getting my personal information with it (i.e. are you a smoker). In fact, I’m quite happy they don’t ask for my personal information.

    If I chose to use my laptop in the tub, and it takes water damage, Apple is going to laugh me out of the store even if I show up with Apple Care and Pro Care. Their answer will rightly be, “I DON’T care.”

    So, roll the dice, move your mice. Don’t like the game, don’t play. You may have a right to smoke, but I have a right not to be penalized by covering the cost of your bad decisions (in higher warranty charges). Move on, get over it, and if it really bothers you, start a business that caters to repairing electronics owned by smokers. And shut your noise!

  134. happyandblue2 says:

    @YardanCabaret: Maybe that brown coating wasn’t really from smoking..

  135. Hua Kul says:

    @Powerlurker:
    “Light” cigarettes don’t have less nicotine, they have perforated paper which causes the smoker to draw in some air when they inhale, somewhat diluting the smoke. But the smoke coming off the lit end is the same.

  136. JohnDeere says:

    @cluberti: if they know air is gonna get inside then they also know that everything else is gonna come with it. so i cant use my computer in say california now, b/c of all the pollutants thats gonna get in it?

  137. zenrabbit says:

    Don’t clean it with Alcohol … Apple lists that as a hazardous substance as well!