Dear Apple: My Macbook Keeps Trying To Light My House On Fire, Please Replace It

This poor guy is named Steve. Steve’s Macbook keeps trying to light his house on fire, so Steve would like replacement. He’s already sent the computer for repair several times, gotten it back, at which time it tried to light his house on fire again.

The machine in question (which is not pictured here because Steve sent it to Apple to be repaired) likes to shoot off sparks that land on his copy of the New York Times. The NYT is not only the paper of record, but it also functions rather effectively as tinder.

Steve would like his Macbook replaced, Apple. He’s written to Steve Jobs and dealt with Apple’s executive customer service people and is still being denied a replacement. He does not want another (this will be the 4th) repair. He wants a new Macbook that does not double as an infernal device.

Here’s Steve’s letter:

Dear Mr. Jobs,

I hate to write you about this as opposed to going through the normal channels of communication w/ costumer service but my Macbook laptop has been in for repair 3 times and has had the battery replaced once and the power cable replaced once after sparking violently and singing my desk.

Now it’s happened again! I was going to plug in the power adapter to the computer and it sparked violently at the connection and toasted the newspaper next to my laptop!

On top of this my screen is still not quite right (I’ve had it replaced 2x due to a yellowish hue of the screen) – I work in graphics & color correction and this is a big issue for me! (Yes I’ve calibrated it several times – the issue seems to be with the hardware). I’m not sure if macbook screens are just yellow by design or what, but the person who sold me the laptop a year and a half ago said the screen would be perfect for my work, and so far it’s been anything but.

I have apple care, so it hasn’t been too expensive getting the work done, but it has cost me a LOT in time and due to the fact that it’s nearly set my room on fire twice now, I’m really at the end of my rope. I want to file the highest kind of appeal at this point! It seems every time I appeal the service department on the phone they tell me to just wait it out for the new parts – and every time I take the laptop into the store to have them check out the screen discoloration they say there’s nothing wrong with it, even if I A/B the screen next to one that looks pristine.

Please know, I am a big fan of your operating system and software – and I was under the impression that your hardware was top notch, but the pro-dell notebook I had before I bought my mac only ever had one issue, and as soon as there was a hardware problem they issued me an entirely new notebook that was a gigantic upgrade in return for my patience and inconvenience at work (they upgraded my single to dual core and added an amazing graphics card, which I never imagined a computer company would do for someone).

Consider my case. My name is Steve [redacted]and my macbook’s serial number is [redacted]. If you could help me out here I would be very grateful. I want to write an article for the tech blog I occasionally write for, documenting my experience with the laptop over the last year and a half and the subsequent dealings w/ tech support/replacements/etc – I think this would be a really great chance for you to help a poor mac user out and let there be a happy ending to his story.


Three days later we got an update from Steve:

Hi Alex –

The problem is still in flux. I’ve been speaking with Dina @ Apple Executive relations regarding the issue. They sent me to the apple store yesterday who stayed open late to repair my laptop because I had expressed that time was a big factor – this was really awesome of them, and the guy who helped me out (Derek, at the 14th St. Apple Store in NYC) was really helpful.

BUT! Alas, my problems just got worse. I got the computer back to my house and plugged it in to my external HD which I run the Apple backup program Time Machine on. It wasn’t until it began backing up my system that I realized that the repair to my laptop had totally hosed my OS. The HD is gone from the finder, my DVD drive no longer works consistently (perhaps a side effect of the original shock), and now my backed up HD image has been totally corrupted since I (stupidly) allowed it to do a nightly backup before testing out the machine.

Dina called me back, and I explained what happened and she put me in touch with a specialist who was also very courteous and helpful but also ruled that the issue (at least with the DVD drive) was hardware based, not a result of the software I have on the machine. Dina was gone for the day, but I feel like at this point, after I was mis-led on the quality of the macbook display LCD, the 2 fires it nearly started, the DVD issue, and now the hosing of my essential files, I shouldn’t have to go back in to the store and wait for yet another repair. I don’t trust the process! It will have been my 5th time in for a repair on this 1.5 year old machine!

My reasoning is, I was mis-sold on the quality of the glossy macbook screen, which the salesman assured me was of adequate quality to do basic color correction work in graphics – it turns out, it’s far from that. I can live with being a sucker to some degree, but now that the computer has put me and my home in danger twice, and still isn’t working after all of these repairs; I either want my money back or a Macbook Pro with a matte screen which is actually acceptable for the work I intended the computer for in the first place. If that’s asking too much I would settle for a refund for the computer and the apple care and apple software I bought for the computer since it’s been a giant loss now that I have no computer and my files have been corrupted as far as I can tell.

Let me know if you think this is a reasonable request – I feel like after a computer nearly lights your house on fire you should be considered a special case and I honestly kind of feel like regardless of dealing with the executive level of support at Apple, I’m still jumping through the normal front-line tech support hoops.


Yesterday, another update from Steve:

I asked for a refund and was denied. I also mentioned how much personal and business data I lost – the plea fell on deaf ears.

I mentioned I heard apple had the best support, she was unmoved even by stories of others getting replacement computers from apple for less severe issues than this one.

I think my plan is this: Im going to try and cut my losses, get the computer repaired at the shop as many times as it takes to get it back in pristine condition and then put it up on eBay. I can’t possibly make back what I lost but I can get this white beacon of despair out of my life and move on to a company who gives a crap about their customers.


Here is a picture of the scorch & melted paint on the desk and the toasted newspaper I had next to the DC in & one photo showing how they were aligned on the desk when it happened. I wish the desk wasn’t painted black either, it would make the burn easier to pick out but you should be able to see it without any trouble.

I’m sure if I wasn’t sitting there when the spark occurred to extinguish the newspaper the house may well have gone up.


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