I wanted to write regarding some difficulty I’ve had getting Apple to address an issue in their 2009 to early 2012 iMacs, and because it’s not every day you hear a company admit that the environment just steps from one of their flagship stores is so hostile it voids the warranty. The issue presents itself as a smoke-like discoloration on the screens of the affected iMacs, usually near the top near the fan exhaust port. While many of us hoped that this was merely behind the removable front glass of the machines, we unfortunately discovered that the discoloration actually exists between the LCD and a plastic film that protects it. A brave user who dissected his iMac found Apple didn’t seal the connection between these pieces like most manufacturers do, so dust or other contamination can get between them. This results in a smoky residue within the display.
I’m sure you must be thinking at this point that I’m a smoker, or that my house is filthy, or worse, in order for such a buildup to occur within my iMac’s LCD, but I can assure you that’s not the case. My wife and I don’t smoke, and owing to my wife’s Asthma have pretty good air filtration in our home. The house needs to be kept dirt and dust-free or she has trouble breathing. It’s an environment that should be suitable for electronics.
Despite that, between November 2009, when I purchased my 27″ iMac, and September 2011 my iMac’s display was replaced twice with this issue. Both times Apple was apologetic and replaced the display under my AppleCare plan. Around that time I contacted Apple Executive Customer Service with concerns about the display and two other issues I was having: a failure with the video out port that causes a snowy display on a secondary monitor, a situation that persists to this day, and a SuperDrive that had failed twice. I was told by [J] that they’d look into the output display issue, but that he couldn’t help with the other two problems, and to contact him in the future if anything else arose.
Fast forward a few months and a move from Ohio to Chicago. Within a few months of arriving in our brand new non-smoking apartment building, the smoky display issue returns. [J] had taken a new position in the company, so I explain all of the issues I’ve had to my new contact at Apple Customer Service, [L.].
Ultimately I’m told that Apple will replace the display one last time as a courtesy, but that I’m to blame for the failure. When pushed for clarification, I’m told that Apple is aware of the issue and that they believe it to be caused by humidity in the air. They claim it’s too humid in Ohio for the iMac’s display, and they’re not responsible for it. Since they weren’t aware I’d relocated, I explain that I’d recently moved to Chicago and that the issue had since recurred there. After some deliberation I’m told Illinois is also too humid for iMacs. Here’s the kicker: I live less than 1000 ft from Apple’s flagship store in Chicago. So Apple is literally claiming that it’s too humid for iMacs not even one full block away from the location they sell them to customers all year long.
Unfortunately, I’ve since found this is a common issue with iMacs, so I’ve included a few links with stories other than my own below. As my iMac’s last hurrah, its hard drive failed while writing this email, so I had to finish it up on my wife’s PC. Back to the Genius Bar I go…
Greyish Smudge marks behind the glass screen [Apple Support]
iMac 27 – black spots [Macrumors]
There is Hope for iMac 27″ Display – Black Spots/Smudges/Dust in the display fixed! [Macrumors]