Apple Won't Refund My Macbook, Which Is A Lemon

“Dear Consumerist,

So I purchased a MacBook last year and it’s been a nightmare. It’s been replaced twice now, each time with multiple mail-out services before Apple would replace the laptop.

Each time Apple representatives told me that under warranty details they will refund at ‘their discretion’, which seems to mean never. Am I stuck with yet another lemon laptop now that I’ve run out of ways to escalate?
Does California offer me any good consumer protection? Can I take them to small claims court perhaps?”

When I encountered issues with the third machine, I took your column’s advice and escalated to a supervisor on the technical line and asked for a refund, but met with a canned denial. So I escalated to Jean Toulouse, but met with a canned denial from a secondary. So I escalated to Steve Jobs, but met with a canned denial from a secondary.

Here’s the timeline, I’ve tried to keep it as short as possible. I had AppleCare for the 1st MacBook, repurchased it for the 2nd, but did not repurchase it for the 3rd.

2006/05/27 – Buy new MacBook.
2006/05/30 – Called in regarding dead pixels and that the machine kept freezing even after nuke and pave. Apple would not refund but agreed to replace.
2006/06/05 – Get new MacBook.
2006/08/22 – Called in regarding the screen would dim and brighten
randomly. Also would sometimes wake from sleep with color bands across screen. Apple has me ship MacBook in for repairs.
2006/08/29 – Get MacBook back, still has the problem. Apple has me ship MacBook in for repairs.
2006/09/18 – Get MacBook back, still has the problem. Apple has me ship MacBook in for repairs.
2006/10/11 – After waiting, then a lot of phone tag, finally get in touch with Apple and told they wish to keep the unit for research. Apple would not refund but agreed to replace.
2006/10/16 – Get new MacBook
2007/05/05 – Hard drive fails. Call Apple, who send me a replacement hard drive.
2007/07/26 – Interior plastic starts cracking. Call Apple who would not refund but only to repair.

Loyal Reader,
Jason Lanum

Jason,

Since your laptop has been replaced more than 3 times for the same problem, you could very well qualify for a full refund under “Lemon Law” (see: “What Is “Lemon Law?””)

Check the info for your state but you’re lucky that California has very pro-consumer lemon laws. There, you can get a toaster replaced under lemon law.

I would first suggest recontacting Apple to demand a full refund under Lemon Law, and if they fail to comply, sue them in small claims court. Here’s info on how to take your case to small claims court, a list of info and contact information for small claims courts by state, and the inspiring story of a man who has successfully sued several telemarketers in small claims court.

(Photo: amyadoyzie)