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Macbook screen coating issues (staingate.org)
279 points by greggman on Mar 18, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 180 comments

Apple's customer service is hell. Don't envy anybody to have to deal with this. The "Cosmetic damage and not covered by warranty" line is similar to what I had as answer when after one week of sitting on a desk without any mistreatment I had a crack in the glass of my pre-retina MBP.

Called them and had an endless loop of

- "I think this is a manufacturing fault"

- "Cracks in the screen are ALWAYS accidental damage and not covered under warranty"

- "But I didn't have an accident with it, so ..."

- "Cracks in the screen are ALWAYS accidental damage and not covered under warranty"

... and so on and so on.

Now, after the most recent graphics board meltdown I am on an XPS13 with Ubuntu, and I can honestly say that apple are off my shopping list for good.

Just to show this is anecdotal, I have been using Apple notebooks for many years and have only ever had one problem. That problem was a defective trackpad. The Apple Store replaced the computer outright with the newer model as they were unable to get the part within seven days due to Christmas holidays. I hear good and bad things about customer service of all sorts of companies, but more often than not I have heard positive things about Apple.

Apple is probably the only company that comes to mind when I try to think of positive customer service experiences. Even when my apple care expired they still helped me.

My MBP is now 6 years old, still trying to get my employer to replace it. The only problems I had were the HDD going bad (I replaced it with SSD) and the trackpad no longer works (i spilled a drink on it once or twice). I also dropped is in the street a couple times which could have contributed to the HDD failure.

Overall I've never owned any other devices this long with continuous use. With all that being said they are going to need to change their approach on this issue or they risk damaging that support reputation.

I've had very good experiences with Dell both in Japan and Poland.

[Japan] One day the fan of my Latitude started making a clicking noise so I called the service, scheduled a visit for the next Saturday and got the fan replaced, even though the noise didn't occur when the serviceman was testing it. In the process of replacing the fan he noticed my case is missing two rubber feet and promised to send me a replacement. A week later I got a whole bottom part of the case in mail.

[Poland] My dad had some problems with BSODs on his Vostro and after a bit of back and forth with the service they replaced the whole motherboard for him. Almost 3 years into warranty, 1 month before it expired.

If I ever decide to go back to Windows or Linux I'm going with Dell and their NBD warranty.

I've had pretty great repair service from Lenovo in January of this year, and with Acer in 2013. Both are for devices I purchased as a private consumer, not as a big contract corporate client.

I've had some terrible experience with Lenovo around 2010, so this may be hit or miss, but Apple is certainly not the only company that can provide decent service.

I don't think the defect is the problem but rather the communication on Apple's part. Problems happen, people in IT are most probably used to that. But a company should just admit the error and move on.

I personally had the same experience as GP (but ages ago): Bought an iBook G3 that had multiple main board faults every few months (that was a problem of the whole series). In Germany you can get your money back if a product has the same fault multiple times (i.e. the manufacturer is unable to fix the issue). Both Apple and Gravis, the retailer, acted so horribly despite the perfectly clear law and a clear paper trail of the multiple defects that I had to hire a lawyer to get my money back. Of course I'll never buy anything Apple again - not because of the defects (as said, that can happen to every manufacturer) but rather because of the awful response.

At my company we all use Apple hardware besides screens and one surface and we have a failure rate of around 70% over two years for our MacBook Pros. We had 2 with the graphics problem and 7 had disk failures. 2 others had failing keyboards and trackpads. But since it was always in the 2 year span we didn't had any problems to get them repaired.

The difference, I think, is that Apple KNOWS about certain problems, e.g. Trackpad. If there's no water damage, then it's clearly a manufacturing defect. In OPs case, they thought he was lying because they'd never seen that issue happen without accidental damage.

A similar thing happened with an HP laptop I owned. They had problems with hinges breaking for no reason other than poor design. I searched online and found a bunch of people had the problem and some got it replaced as a manufacturing defect. I tried for months to get HP to do something about it. Finally I went to my boss who at the time was connected with some HP big shot. Using that leverage is the only way I've ever gotten HP to fix a single thing.

We're blessed with lots of old and failing HP kit which is slowly being swapped out for Supermicro stuff so every time something goes pop, they get on the phone and screw the warranty as hard as possible then sell the warranty bits as new on ebay and scrap the chassis.

This is our operations team's way of issuing karma for years of pain if that's any consolation :)

So, what other laptop manufacturers have better customer service? Even with all the issues, I've never seen one that even comes close to Apple.

I doubt you'd get a different answer with anyone else. Screen cracks are always considered damage. Users lie so unfortunately in the very rare case like yours you get screwed.

I am really tempted by the new XPS 13 (with possibly a dual boot Ubuntu/Windows) instead of a new Macbook Pro 13 retina.

I know that a lot of info is out there. In your case, any comparable experience with Dell support?

I have an audio-drivers-die-on-sleep issue in Windows that they claim they have a patch for but it doesn't work. They didn't design in a brightness control that was able to turn the laptop screen entirely off and Windows can't compensate without 2 (!) pieces of 3rd party software and a line of glue code to get them to talk to each other. The trackpad is horrible and interacts poorly with Windows 8 (menus popping open uninvited). Sometimes the computer boots without the ability to recognize USB, although rebooting has always fixed this issue.

I'm not sure whether or not this all falls under your definition of "support," but it was enough to send me back to the macbook that the dell was supposed to replace.

Also, this was 3 years ago. Maybe they've gotten better.

I've had the same Dell for the past 5 years, an XPS 17. I've had a few problems with it: - dead hard drives (after 3.75 and 4.5 years) which I don't find too bad, as they have both been used heavily. - dead power circuit board - another internal board where some things got desoldered as it had a bout of high fever for a while

For all of these I had the next day on site support, and a tech came over and fixed stuff every time with no problems. Now that I'm switching to a MacBook, I'm actually kinda sad to be potentially parting with the computer while it's getting fixed.

I have a ThinkPad X1 Carbon on the way. Ordered it last week with upgraded screen (without touch)/processor/ram. It'll be more pricey than the xps 13.

I've heard everything just works for Ubuntu on the machine. I was planning to run linux in a VM first to see how usable it is then go native if I must.

This must be karma for bitching about Apple, but I just opened the lid of my XPS13 and it has a crack in it. I cannot believe it. It feels like groundhog day!

In any case, I shall report back on how they handle it. Fired off a twitter message to @DellCares and they asked me for the service tag. Go on Dell, impress me!

They are still working out some bugs with the latest XPS 13 and Ubuntu. Check out http://bartongeorge.net/tag/project-sputnik/

A few years ago I spilled water on my dell inspiron and wouldn't turn on. I took it to the local dell distributor and they replaced the motherboard no questions asked.

Calling it "cosmetic damage" is ridiculous. The screen's entire purpose is to be looked at. Cosmetic damage to the screen is functional damage.

Absolutely. Also claiming that the screen was damaged by bad cleaning method actually means that all my 5 laptops I had in the past are somehow super-strong but only Macbook Pro Retina 2013 is normal.

My retina 15" laptop has this plenty. It is clearly markings from the touchpad and the keyboard (and then something along the sides). So it has nothing to do with the way the screen is cleaned.

This is the sort of reason I stopped buying Apple products.

Whilst they use ground-breaking advanced engineering, thermal design and materials and all that marketing garb, I feel merely like the pilot of an experimental aircraft about to tumble out of the sky at any moment.

The last three Apple computers I bought ended up being returned on warranty and the replacement sold due to electrical, thermal, software and quality issues. Fortunately we're covered here in the UK for 6 years with a small argument but none of the machines lasted more than 12 months in normal "at home" usage.

Now that's not exclusive to Apple but I don't expect to have these issues on a premium product. £183/month for a computer over its usable lifetime is a lot of money.

On the side I fix Apple kit for people. I recently replaced the screen on a 2008 MBP which had failed. It was a joy to do. I can't help anyone with a Retina MBP onwards though; warranty return only. That's a big red flag for buying any recent kit.

Second hand plastic ThinkPads now. Not had any problems for a couple of years and to replace the entire unit is less than a 2010 MBP screen and they're easy to replace bits in. #00 Philips and a swiss army knife and you're sorted.

> Whilst they use ground-breaking [..] thermal design

Apple has had an overheating problem for the last two to three generations. They used to design the MBP at least to be a mobile workhorse so heat was more important than sleekness, but then their designers got ahold of it and now it is an overheating mess.

Plus the discoloring this thread is talking about is likely due to WHERE Apple hid the vent (i.e. within the screen latch, so it is "invisible," but jets hot air up the front of the LCD constantly causing the glue to fail per the OP).

I've owned recent gen MBP, Surface Pro 3, Thinkpad, and few others. The MBP gets hottest followed by the Surface Pro 3 and then the Thinkpad. Actually my Asus ROG laptop stays coolest (like cold to the touch) but it also weighs incredible amounts.

> #00 Philips and a swiss army knife and you're sorted.

ThinkPads use #1 JIS Phillips screws almost everywhere, with some #0 JIS apparently used for internal parts. (I haven't encountered any #0 myself, just #1.)

#00 is definitely too small. You may be able to get away with it, but it's much easier and less likely to damage the screw heads if you use the right size driver.

The "JIS" is Japanese Industrial Standard, a slight variation from ordinary Phillips.

Wiha screwdrivers are my favorite; I use a #1 Wiha for all my ThinkPad work.

Here's a discussion:


You're right but I'm a software guy so you should never let me at hardware :)

> Fortunately we're covered here in the UK for 6 years with a small argument

There’s no shortage of consumer protection return periods, it seems - I’ve not heard 6 years before, where is that decided?

It's decided in the Sale of Goods Act (1979), see http://www.parliament.uk/briefing-papers/sn02239.pdf

This is also described on Apple's website at http://www.apple.com/uk/legal/statutory-warranty/

A lot of retailers will argue about this.

But the law is the law. If you threaten civil action they'll either acquiesce before the case gets to court, or be forced to acquiesce after it gets to court, because there's no defence.

I have had 3 warranty replacements from Apple at around 18 mo. point and the way they handle it disgusts me:

They show you a receipt that states the full price replacement and make you sign it and say I must pay. I say no, its within the warranty period. Twice they have then said "unfortunately you did not buy it from Apple so they cannot perform a retailer's replacement" but in both cases I had (from their website). Once they then said "did you buy from Apple business?" I accidentally said yes and they tried to use that to extract payment. In each case, once you have the dodged the bullets, the genius finally says a prepared statement along the lines of "it is out of warranty so it will cost £xxx but because <insert excuse> we will waive the charges this time". The <insert excuse> is something like "safety reasons".

It is just so damn deceitful. They are not "waiving charges" and they introduced multiple pressure points to unfairly obtain payment. What really happened was they were compelled to replace a 14 month old product they borked with a software update. I have no idea what the thing with size 6 pt. text and full price listed was that they make me sign. I have to assume they train and incentivise Apple Shop staff to trick you into paying for replacements. Scumbags.

Well I went through an approximately similar process in an Apple Store in the UK.

What was proper shit is the Genius Bar dude tore the original printed receipt in half for the initial purchase (handed over to act as proof of purchase) and wouldn't issue a receipt for the replacement machine. Total PITA from a receipt/warranty/tax claim POV and probably completely illegal.

I flipped my shit, spoke to the store manager and was simply asked to leave and there was nothing more they would do.

So yes, scumbags. Makes Dixons and Argos in the 1990s look good.

Edit: ironically my boss just came back from lunch after flipping his shit at them because they want to charge him £200 to replace his iPhone 6 after the WiFi packed in.

I guess everyone just has varying experiences with different companies, plus you certainly will hear bad experiences more than good experiences. Myself I have had nothing but great experiences with Apple products, most I have bought new some used. We still have an Apple IIci that works great. I've owned a blue iMac from 2000 which has never had hardware issue and my dad still uses it for iTunes and playing Cds. Also have a 17" iMac G4 from around 2002 that only had a logic board issue but that was under warranty. Still kind of my favorite designed iMac. I guess I would be curious to see what the fail rates are on Apple products (highly doubt they are truly available). For me they are the only company I've always had a good experience with their products and customer service and I feel like I'm pretty jaded with customer service after working in Retail for over 10 years (sporting goods and then electronics).

Second hand plastic ThinkPads are hardly an alternative... They are seriously outdated now.

> Second hand plastic ThinkPads are hardly an alternative... They are seriously outdated now.

And how does that affect their day-to-day usability?

I'm a big fan of new and shiny, but my primary laptop is a Dell Inspiron I bought in 2006/2007, because I'm also a big fan of using things until they break. I popped an SSD into it a couple years ago and it is very snappy and performs perfectly well as a development machine, web browser, and (small) VM host. In fact, it's actually snappier than my i7 desktop for most tasks because of the SSD. So why would a secondhand (and probably newer) ThinkPad not be a suitable alternative?

The biggest downsides of having an older laptop are that the screen is a mere 1680x1050 and it's pretty thick, probably a around a full inch when closed. The former is still not terrible by today's standards (what's with the absurd popularity of 1366x768?), but I do consider it to fall into the bare minimum of acceptability, and the latter is simply not a problem for me - it's not enough weight to bother me on my daily 1.2 mile walk into work and most of the time it's sitting on a desk or on my lap, not anywhere space-constrained.

Depends what you do with them. Mine is fine for what I do and is probably fine for 80% of people out there.

My 13" MBPr has this stain pattern.

Here's my guess, I used an alcohol-based solvent to clean my keyboard and then closed the machine. Now I have stains of the oleophobic coating coming off in the places you'd expect it ... where the keys manage to come in contact with the screen.

So I suppose it's my fault, but I have a Lenovo T440s here with a beautiful matte screen that has no need for a fancy oil-resistent coating that comes off when you breath cleaning solvent on it.

Color me unimpressed, Apple.

This is the reason I won't buy anymore Apple products. I simply cannot trust them to make a device which is practical.

I have the same problem, it was caused by my (then) 12-month-old toddler touching the screen.

I cleaned the screen with a slightly damp microfiber cloth, the same one I use for my glasses.

As an owner of a huge number of Apple products, but not an exclusive Apple-user, I think some of their products are extremely practical.

The problem I've always had is that blemishes and usability issues have been common for their hardware, even going back to the easily-scratched metal backs of old iPods. It seems like every generation of iPhone has had some major defect.

None of these things are that big of a deal. If Apple is using cutting-edge manufacturing processes, I'd expect these things to happen.

The problem is that Apple has (in my experience) systematically denied that the problem exists, is widespread, and is their fault. It really takes something like staingate.org before they'll own up to something they should be willing to fix.

It's crazy: they do some things like MagSafe is fantastic, it's so simple but very effective. It solves a problem which has killed two of my previous laptops. Then you have the fantastic battery life and a suspend function which works consistently well (so long as you don't use Parallels).

But then they screw up on the simple things: a screen coating which is extremely easily damaged, and no stress relief on their power supplies which dooms them to cable failure within 1-2 years.

BTW I resolved the screen issues by installing a matt screen protector. It has the added advantage of making the screen readable in sunlight. The downside is you lose a little clarity (or gain it if the streaks are really bad).

Apple could fix these problems easily, and - especially in the case the stress relief - it would cost them a fraction of a cent per unit.

Fixing the power supply would cost them a lot more in opportunity cost. Those must be extremely profitable!

> None of these things are that big of a deal.

Perhaps for you.

> If Apple is using cutting-edge manufacturing processes, I'd expect these things to happen.

These are expensive devices, we're paying a premium for them. For the prices Apple charge I expect them to have worked out these kinks before hitting the market.

Don't be so quick to blame the cleaning method. I've never used anything but water and got the same damaged screen coating.

if you're using anything other than distilled water, who knows what kind of minerals you're rubbing on your screen.

it's still inexcusable from apple, but don't be surprised if rubbing tap water on your glossy screen screws it up.

I understand where you are coming from, but stand back for a minute and contemplate how ridiculous this sounds:

> don't be surprised if rubbing tap water on your glossy screen screws it up.

I used tap water to remove e-cigarette refill fluid (an oily substance) that I spilled on a non-Apple glossy screen, using a dirty rag. Unsurprisingly the screen is still absolutely perfect and handled the highly corrosive water just fine.

Apple's bullshit is getting to you.

Off topic but if there's oil in your e-liquid, you may want to find a new vendor. Should only be glycerine/glycol, nicotine, and miniscule amounts of flavor extracts/concentrates.

Just a mention : e-cig refill fluid is mostly propylene glycol and glycerol. It's not an oil. It's a sugar alcohol. :)

The main point is that it wound up on a screen and that screen is just fine. I didn't use mine for too long and didn't much research into it because it was merely a quitting aid :)

I've used water just once in tiny amounts and they appeared nontheless (long after using water).

no matter, it is unacceptable!

> matte

Exactly. The fact that this is now a rarity in laptops pisses me off.

One of the reasons I just love the new Zenbook UX305. Thinner than the new macbook, higher res screen/webcam, 3 usb3 ports, hdmi and sdcard and fanless... and a damn matte screen for $699.

I'm really happy with this machine.

Completely infuriating.

I bought an anti-glare matte screen protector for my 13" ultrabook. Makes it usable outdoors.

And can I also add to this that, while I appreciate widescreen monitors on laptops due to form factor, the fact that monitor manufacturers just up and stopped making square displays is endlessly frustration too.

My 13" MB Air does not have this pattern. I've used a microfiber cloth dampened with isopropyl alcohol (no smears / spots) to clean the screen quite a few times without any problems. I don't think the alcohol is a problem (though the solvent could be -- I used lab-grade isopropanol).

The screen on the Air is different to that on the rMBP macs

I use a RadTech felt pad that I keep between the keyboard and the screen when the laptop is closed. It shouldn't be necessary, but I found the oils from the keys were leaving marks on the screen when I'd carry my MBP in a bag. This pad prevents it completely.

The fact that you have to carry around such accessories for a PC you should be able to use anywhere without much thought about stuff like the above is frustrating.

So Apple has to figure out how to stop people from using abrasive cleaners on their computers that would also cause issues if it came in contact with switches/circuitboard or anything else in a laptop?

1. They aren't abrasive, they are polar. Abrasive makes them sounds like they have gritty particles. They do not. They are just solvents.

Most of these solvents will not harm switches/circuitboards (well, maybe apple ones, depending on what kind of protective coating they use).

2. The amount of effort it takes to have a coating that is resistant to almost all cleaners is completely and utterly trivial to a company like apple.

It's not a hard problem. It's not even a problem.

To put this in perspective for you, I can walk 1000 feet from my house, and get stuff that will function as an optically clear anti-reflective coating that is resistant to almost all chemicals.

(These things are portable to other coating types, too.. The wood end table i spray finished sitting next to me could be dipped in acetone, denatured alcohol, whatever, and it wouldn't affect the finish)

So yeah, i'm going to go out on a limb and say "apple has to figure out how to use coatings that resist these kinds of things", because it's 100% cheap and trivial.

None of the scratches on my MBP are from cleaners. They are 100% from the keyboard touching the screen.

Here's a photo (http://i.imgur.com/gnAqDqk.jpg). First you can see the main scratch is a very straight line. Not something that would come from wiping. Second below the man scratch you can see a pattern of small scratches about every 1/2 inch in pairs corresponding to the corners of keys on the keyboard.

I'd be happy if there was just way reasonably priced way to get it re-coated.

I believe its oils from your hands rubbing off on the case, and then onto the screen.

Bit of a difference between the screen and keyboard -- which users interact with -- and the guts of the thing. Use some common sense.

Stopping small amounts of fluid is a solved problem for laptops - the keyboard sits in a tray, and ports and speakers are reasonably sealed. You have to spill a lot of fluid to make it past these basic protections.

Enough with the gates. Please. Anything else. I'd even accept stainghazi.

That said, my MBPR has some screen coating issue. But I'm not sure if I scratched it or not, so I won't join their database.

> Enough with the gates. Please. Anything else. I'd even accept stainghazi

I won't accept Stainghazi.

RIP Sean Smith / Vile Rat. We miss you, buddy.

Mac -> problem with mac -> problem with title -> change title -> reference to eve on line .. and to a goon (therefore SA)

How deep does the rabbit hole go?

Sorry buddy, that goes all the way back to Watergategate.


-gate has run its course I agree.

"Screenbleed"? STREAK? Have to have a catchy name like all these security vulnerabilities :)

I have to agree, the first thing I did was roll my eyes at the choice of name.




The coating on a MacBook Pro is similar to the anti-reflection coating you can get on glasses.

Chlorine and heat will affect glasses, I bet the same can be said for these laptop screens.

I have a feeling that with a database of 258 people, you should be able to find out what people are using to clean their screens and damaging them. Cleaning your screen using those bleach wipes is a sure fire way to damage it!

I've never used anything but water and a paper towel to clean my screen, and frankly I resent the fact that you and people like you keep assuming that it's user error. The coating is clearly defective.

There is very clearly a problem with the screen coating on a (in my case) $3500 machine, and Apple needs to be called out on this one. Bravo to the OP for bring this to light.

> The coating is clearly defective.

The problem is that 258 some-odd people, out of the what, several tens of thousands of people who have experienced this issue is not a "clearly" situation.

That's, conservatively, about .1% of owners experiencing a problem, and it is entirely within reason to believe the issue is user-caused, baring some reproducible test case.

How many people do you know with a >2 year old MBP? I would wager a substantial fraction experience this. I personally know several who get this issue wiping their screen only with water and the cleaning cloth it came with, per Apple’s instructions.

... In addition of course to all the ones experiencing this effect after using a tee shirt, tissue, paper towel, or other cloth. The guy you’re responding to definitely shouldn’t be using a paper towel to clean the screen.

Still though, that doesn’t cause a problem with most other Apple laptop/phone/tablet displays, so people who now have scratched up screens didn’t ever expect this could happen, and weren’t trying especially hard to be careful about it. Apple should at the very least do a much better job warning their customers.

That's, not so conservatively, the number of people who have heard of the site now.

What grounds do you have for believing that web reach is an accurate estimator for this problem?

I have no real idea how wide-spread the issue is, but I tend to go with what's concretely known, as opposed to just making crap up.

I've never used anything but water and a paper towel to clean my screen

Why are you using a paper towel? I've always considered them to be moderately abrasive.

We aren't damaging it with clearers or at least I'm not. I've never used a cleaner on my MBP ever. All I've done is use a microfiber cloth, no water, no cleaner.

From the pattern of the issue (http://i.imgur.com/gnAqDqk.jpg) you can see it has absolutely nothing to do with cleaning. In fact, it's mostly the edges of the screen that need to be wiped. The center, where the issue is, rarely if ever needs to be wiped/cleaned. On top of that you can see a pattern from the keyboard under the main issue area.

Someone above mentioned heat. Maybe it's closing an MBP after playing a game. They literally get too hot to touch. You have to make sure you fingers don't touch between the keys or else OUCH!

Checking where the area of issue touches the main body of the MBP it's the area between the touchpad and the keyboard that lines up with the area of the screen with all issue.

I used to get these marks like this on the screen when I jammed laptop into my backpack real tight. screen bends inwards touches keyboard. nothing good can come out of it.

My 1st generation 15" rMBP is getting close to its 3rd year. The original owner bought it in August 2012 and I bought it off him in March 2013. The screen coating is as good as the day I got it. From the onset, I made sure I don't use any solvent- no alcohol or ammonia based window/glass cleaner like Windex. Only water and old, worn, super soft but clean 100% cotton t-shirt (like my 5 year old American Apparel white t-shirt).

I know a lot of people go overboard when cleaning the screen. Either driven by OCD, you tend to clean it too often, putting way too much elbow grease and constant use of solvent. At the other end are those who let their laptops get covered in dirt and grime, thus, when they do decide to clean it, it's easy to do too much because that's the required effort.

What I would do is make sure after each use or every night, give your laptop a light wipe or dusting- eg. using a Swifter duster (use the 360º duster instead of the single-sided as it would minimise accidental scraping). If you don't have an old, soft cotton white t-shirt, use a good light colored micro-fibre cloth. Why white or light colored? To easily detect sand or dirt.

Anecdotal data point; I've always used Windex exclusively on my systems (13" rMBP included) and have yet to have an issue.

"Why white or light colored? To easily detect sand or dirt."

Now I'm annoyed that the cloth included in the box is deepest black.

Speaking of heat: It would be interesting to know how many of those affected used their MBPs in clamshell mode.

(My pet theory: Acids and oils left by the user's hands/fingers on the keyboard/case that react with the screen coating when the MBP is closed. Heat from clamshell mode could act as an additional catalyst.)

I am curious about two things with regards to these laptops.

Can the keys come in contact with the screen when closed, not just sitting on the desk but upside down/etc. When closing the laptop to turn it off is heat passively dissipated properly? Metal lids would seem a good way to trap it.

I used baby wipes on my 2006 MacBook and after a few years there were a few minor spots like this, but nothing major. Since then I've been using just a soap based cleaner like iKlear but a generic version without the price tag, on all devices and haven't had any issues.

Be very careful of using baby wipes on sensitive stuff. A lot of them can remove varnish from nails. I was very surprised when I saw this taking in account the intended usage of the wipes.

Alcohol is a common solvent used to create varnish, so it's not that surprising.

hmm on second read, I think I meant polish (as in fingernail paint) and not varnish (for wood treatment). Does it also use alcohol? My mother used acetone to remove nail polish from her fingernails from what I remember, that is why I was shocked to see a baby wipe do the same thing.

I just, last week, bought my first MacBook Pro -- my first Apple laptop ever. It was much more than I usually spend on a single computer.

And now I hear about this.

Probably one of the most widespread issues -- that Apple is not willing to cover -- in the history of an Apple laptop.

It's not even been 14 days yet, so it's still eligible for return.

Would be lying to say I wasn't considering it.

I am on my 3rd Macbook in 6 years. All 3 are running great and have not had this issue.

I am one of the lone Mac users in my company and I can't imagine switching to the Dell laptops my coworkers have to use. They don't wear well, they require far more updates than my Mac. (I am on a rapid upgrade cycle because I am spoiled, not because my old ones no longer meet my needs).

What would you buy instead?

This is my 3rd Macbook (best in terms of hardware, bar the display issue and worst in terms of software - too many glitches) and I'm really looking for an alternative when I next replace it.

That's the problem. One of the main reasons I got this was to do iOS development, and it's not like there are any non-Apple alternatives, unless I go w/ a Mac (iMac/Mac Pro/Mini).

But those are not exactly, you know... portable.

Looks like the MacBook Air may not suffer from this problem, so that's a possibility. Though I wanted something larger and more powerful.

I have a feeling a lot of people are going to say thinkpad. I have one and haven't turned it on for a couple years but I still think that's a common suggestion. The dell XPS 13 that someone mentioned in this thread seems like a decent macbook air replacement.

Thinkpads are pretty awesome, to be honest. Best keyboard of any laptop (even the new chiclet style), they don't overheat on your lap, they're pretty much bulletproof, and replaceable parts means the laptop is serviceable for a longer life-span (after all, parts like batteries have a limited life, shame to throw away a nice laptop because the battery pack is running at less than 50% capacity after a few years of use).

I have a newer, faster thinkpad given to me by my company but I still use my 6 year old macbook. I'm really more of an OSX fan vs Windows now. I could probably get by on Ubuntu or something if I really wanted to. I'm just not a fan of the aesthetics of the thinkpad, which might seems weird but it plays a part of why I don't use it. It's heavy, and ugly, and has hooks sticking of the screen.

I never found the keyboard to be much better than others but I have heard many others say it is great so maybe I'm the exception. I use a daskey mechincal on my gaming PC and it's pretty great. The track pad sucks compared to Apple's even though they are made by the same people.

I'll give you service ability (though my old macbook was upgradable). I'm really surprised I haven't had battery issues after 6 years. Being an IBMer we always had to order Lenovos. I think that is changes with our Apple deal. You could get a macbook through some exception but soon they will be available and supported for all employees. I've also heard there is a Toshiba option available though I'm not sure who would pick that over a ThinkPad.

To be fair, I wouldn't use a ThinkPad except with Linux (using SUSE right now). Thankfully, many Linux developers are big Thinkpad fans, so any 'classic' Thinkpad (basically the T, W and X series), even the new generations will generally work flawlessly (or close to it) with Linux.

Really I think the only thing that might sway me is Dell's new-found love for Linux.

Dell XPS 13, Lenovo Yoga, etc.

For now you are a bit wrong about Apple's not willingness to cover some hardware issues.

2011 MBPs were plagued by burning video cards, and only few weeks ago they accepted that it was an issue. Now if you have 2011 MBP, Apple will change your motherboard or repay your expenses on repairing your laptop (though, I do not know exactly how you must prove it).

In support.apple.com this issue is 12k posts long, and was ignored for 3-4 years.

Hope it will not repeat with rMBPs as I am owner of one and like to keep screen clean (cleaning by the recommendations of Apple).

and it only took them 4 years to acknowledge the issue?

Probably they acknowledged it sooner, but only after 4 years, they are offering free repairs and compensations.

How does that help people who ended up selling their Macbook Pros as salvage parts at a huge loss?

My 2011 MBP, which was out of AppleCare, basically died a few months before they announced the repair program. I was very lucky I didn't sell mine for parts at a loss -- I seriously considered it.

I still lost a little bit of money because I basically gave away the RAM upgrade I bought for it, as I had no idea when or if they'd even offer a repair program.

Wait and see, if it's really a manufacturing defect as it so obviously seems to be, that goes back to ~2012 era (and hasn't been fixed in the newest model like you and I have), they'll likely end up fixing it free when and if it happens to ours, and/or fully compensate for any repairs we have to pay for.

They should of course be investigating and reacting faster when possible serious defects show up, but this won't be the first (or even the 5th) time they've run a free repair/replacement program for machines out of warranty, assuming that's what ends up happening (and I think it will).

I'd return it while you can. See my other posts in this thread about my experiences with them.

Protip: Use iKlear to clean your machines. It's what they use at the Apple Store. http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=bl_sr_electronics?ie=UTF8&field-...

It's certainly iPriced, too.

$19.95 for 8oz (240ml) and a cloth...

Not accurate. It's actually $19.95 for this full kit:

1- 2 ounces iKlear Spray Bottle; 1- 6 ounces iKlear Spray Bottle 1- Medium DMT Antimicrobial Cloth; 1- Travel Size DMT Antimicrobial Cloth 1- Large "Chamois" Cloth; 1- Travel Size "Chamois" Cloth 12- iKlear Travel Singles (Step 1 Wet)

So two bottles of the stuff, four cloths, and 12 travel singles.


While you are correct (sorry, I missed the extra stuff), my point was that noname microfibre cloths (~$0.70) and less overpriced cleaners (~$1/oz) are just one click away on Amazon...

My 15" rMBP has this problem, and Apple told me it would be $300 to fix it at the depo, or $600 at the store. I wrote a blog post about it[1]. Glad to see it's getting some coverage, and I've added myself to the database.

BTW who's doing this and what are you doing with the data/with Apple?

[1] http://blog.javajosh.com/2015/02/when-apple-screws-its-custo...

Good post, I especially liked the closing phrase:

> It's not like Apple is hurting and can't afford to do the right thing: Apple Computer has 40% profitability, $75B in cash reserves (more than the US Government) and here they are nickel-and-diming the people who are critical to their success.

I heavily dislike the whole "they have money!" thing.

Apple has been more than willing to extend warranties and repair issues once they're sure the problem is a defect.

Until they're sure, it's not "nickel and diming". It's charging people for a service.

Paying 4 grand for a laptop doesn't magically mean Apple is obligated in anyway to make you happy, costs be damned.

>> Apple has been more than willing to extend warranties and repair issues once they're sure the problem is a defect.

The problem is that this can take a long time. So long, in fact, that it can be too late to get any benefit from these repair/warranty programs.

Some people who had the problematic 2011 Macbook Pro had already sold their laptops for parts at a loss before Apple finally acknowledged the issue (check out the huge thread on the support.apple.com forums).

I was lucky that I kept mine (it bricked itself a few months before the repair program was announced) because I had a feeling a replacement program might come out of the class action lawsuit related to the defect.

I ended up buying a new laptop when my 2011 Macbook Pro died because I wasn't going to fork out $500 for another defective logic board. I had already replaced it once while it was still under AppleCare, and it developed the same problems as the original within 6 months. Some people replaced their motherboards as many as 5 times with the same results.

>> Paying 4 grand for a laptop doesn't magically mean Apple is obligated in anyway to make you happy, costs be damned.

They don't have to make you happy "costs be damned", but they should be obligated to at least fix a product that is defective.

Once they know it's defective, sure. There's not enough evidence to say they are, in this specific case.

>Apple has been more than willing to extend warranties and repair issues once they're sure the problem is a defect.

You mean once enough customers complain about it and the impact of the negative publicity outweights the cost of fucking over the customers.

No-one said 'costs be damned'; no-one suggested that Apple should spend the cost of the laptop or more on warranty repair. The costs mentioned are less than 10% of your stated price.

And without 'costs be damned', your final line does not work - if you sell a product for a premium price, you do have an obligation to make your customers happy.

No matter what the cost, it'd be a cost be damned situation.

I heavily dislike the whole "how dare someone have expectations of the companies they do business with" thing. It's not like the transaction ends after purchase and the only noble thing to do is take what comes and keep my mouth shut.

When I buy a premium product, I expect premium support and service. Apple's money situation is relevant because they are choosing to not cover this issue despite having the resources to address it. If they were a struggling company, I could understand the reluctance to address the issue. But this seems short-sighted.

Besides, Apple should be grateful that people are making a stink online, giving them a chance to address the problem honorably before it goes to the courts via a lemon law.

They're probably choosing not to cover it, yet, because they do not believe, at this time, the product is actually defective.

Their resources are a red herring here.

I'm one of those with an affected screen. Upper left hand corner has quite bad banding that really get in the way in anything other than neutral light. In no way it this merely a cosmetic issue. As others have pointed out the screen is what you look at and its called anti-glare... preventing glare is literally its function.

I've been buying MacBooks for about 10 years now and quality control wise they seem to be struggling a bit which is to be expected when a manufacturer takes on mass production using edge techniques. Thats no excuse for not fixing the issues that do arise though particularly given the margin they have. My 2006 MacBook Pro is still chugging along whilst I've a 2009 with a few issues (one of which Apple did fix under warranty) and now my 2013 screen is quite literally coming apart.

I'm seriously considering jumping ship at my next refresh but what to is the problem. I actually like the aluminium construction of the MacBook so perhaps the Razor Blade with either Mint or Ubuntu is an option (anyone have any experience of this combination?). It has the added benefit of having a semi-respectable GPU on board for some light-weight machine learning play (again anyone have any experience using a Razor Blade 2014 for this?)

I wonder if there is something which accelerates / causes this issue, like climate, cleaning with a particular cleaning agent, or touching the screen. I've had my rMBP since it was released in 2012 and have not seen the issue yet, despite using it nearly all day every day since purchase.

From what I hear it could be heat related. Do you use it all day, let it get very warm and then just close the lid to put it in standby?

I am wondering if this is because of a hot unibody case coming very close to the screen when it is closed. So, someone who uses his MacBook very lightly so it doesn't get very hot and then powering it down completely and then waiting a bit before closing the lid might not have this issue as his MacBook is already rather cold when the lid gets closed.

i had rust patches under palms when i had old Al Powerbook G4 something to do with my blood acidity, no one else had them. Better figure out what causes this. I think there might be a limited number of wipe downs you can do with these and perhaps if there is something else present that might be accelerating damage, environmental and the like.

I had the same problem. Used nothing but a microfiber cloth. No liquids and the screen coating started coming off. Took it to the apple store and had the screen replaced for free. My MBP Retina was still under warranty. Had it for 11 months before the issue with the screen.

I've had this problem around the edges of my screen after about a year. I've only used the anti-static monitor wipes to clean my screen...

13" MBPr purchased 2013-12 Have never used anything other than damp paper towel on the screen. Have the "stain" near the camera only, so far. Nearly identical to image 14.

Unrelated, but note that paper towels can scratch glass/plastic. Something with softer fibers is better.

Given the similarity in pattern (starting near the camera along the edge) do you really think this is caused by user error? Do you think that everyone is cleaning their screen in the same wrong way in the same area of the screen?

No, I have no idea. My comment above was a tangent to the original article and only pertaining to paper towels. That's what I meant by starting my comment with "Unrelated, "

Image 3/19 is very interesting and numerous show fairly specific markings indicating scratches near the center of a stain which would support a chemical leaching through a broken protective coating. Similarly a chemical near the edge of the screen/coating could leach into the area there as well.

There has been a long standing issue with Apple laptops where the keyboard damages the screen. The screen and keyboard are so close together when the screen is closed that it doesn't take much pressure to get the two to rub. This causes keyboard marks on the screen that can't be removed.

There could be other issues with the screen coating but a lot of the pics on this site look like keyboard damage. You need to be very careful about putting pressure on the screen while it's closed.

This happened to one of my rMBP 15" near the camera, Apple Store told me that its caused by oil in your fingers. They basically said to avoid touching the screen when you open the lid.

That's ironic:

"The point, explains Carmine Gallo, who is writing a book on the inside workings of the Apple Store, is to get people to touch the devices. "The main reason notebook computers screens are slightly angled is to encourage customers to adjust the screen to their ideal viewing angle," he says -- "in other words, to touch the computer.""


Wow. "You're holding it wrong", eh?

You though they learned quickly enough that this isn't a popular response. It's like they want to keep on propagating the memes.

That's pretty bad.

Great effort. Same issue here. It is clearly a problem in production of Retina. Any other computer i have from apple does not have this issue and is still OK while being older. I honestly feel embarrassed to display my own work to clients on such screen, nevertheless it is really annoying to see the stains all the time during work.

> I honestly feel embarrassed to display my own work to clients on such screen

and you should be, you look like a hobo with a broken laptop asking people to pay you for good work. Im surprised you get any clients :)

I would be interested to collect data on two things:

1. In what city/region does the laptop spend most of its time in? 2. A few places the laptop sees heavy use (home office desk, coffee shop, etc.)

I wonder if there are environmental factors at play here that a database like this could build a correlation on. Maybe people live near salt water, or their environments are more humid, or temperatures fluctuate.

Please note that this sort of thing should NOT be required to repair a faulty product, but it might be of some benefit to the general public.

I had the same on 15" rMBP, basically touchpad's edges "printed" on the screen with some more "stains" in other parts of the screen. It began with a barely noticeable horizontal line after around 8 months and got progressively worse and worse up to the point it was taking around 1/16th of the screen. I always used water to clean the screen. Ended up paying ~300 EUR for a replacement screen, no issues since. Apple didn't offer replacement for free.

Something missing from the victim shaming party is comparing the glass screen to other common household objects that are made of glass and stared at, such as house windows, TV screens, dishes, bottles, glasses, and car windshields.

A glass product that is not fit by manufacture and design to tolerate glass cleaners is obviously poorly designed.

Because Apple is the definition of good design even when they aren't, the problem must transmute into moderately annoying victim shaming.

How is this site going to use the data? I don't see it ever really mentioning the intention of collecting the various bits of data on its form.

Would be nice if we saw some more information, at least attached to the images. Maybe even some other aggregates, since there seems to be a lot more submissions than they have images.

I think the effort is noble, but would be nice if we had a bit more info behind the intentions of the data being collected.

Blaming apple seems a little dishonest.

The same happened to me too. When I cleaned the screen with an alcohol-based wet tissue...

It does get worse on the edges as when wiping it the liquid tends to get on the edges so it affects that part more.

The screen is coated with a fine (a few microns) layer.

If you care so much about your Mac to read the actual care guide, you can see it clearly says not to use anything else but a cloth with water.

Wow. You probably mean the "Hello." manual.

I noticed this a while ago on my 2012 MBA. The "stains" on the screen take the shape of the keyboard, so I wiped it down (can't remember the material I used) and then from then on I keep a sheet of A4 paper between the keyboard and screen when it's closed and it hasn't come back since.

The MBA seems to have a different screen coating. I regularly got these "keyboard stains" on my 2013 MBA and I could just wipe them off. They never became permanent.

I once had a Vaio that lost paint from the volume buttons. It happened to more people. They also said they wouldn't cover cosmetic damages. I kept bugging them saying I didn't pay the extra for a premium looking laptop to have this cheap thing happening. They fixed it in the end, for free.

I have a friend that always makes a huge scene at an apple store when something breaks (latest thing was a failure of the Ati card in a iMac from 2011), he always gets everything fixed, for free. You need to have a big mouth.

I remember back in the days when people tried to justify the MBP prices by using some ambiguous "build-quality" only Macs had, but you couldn't get with Dells or Lenovos.

Yeah. Not convinced.

I've got two rMBPs from 2012, one is 15" (with the infamous LG display, retentiongate anyone?), the other is 13". 15" is heavy used and has some marks from the keyboard on screen, but coating is intact. 13"'s screen is in nearly perfect state.

No "staingate" at all. Sure, there are many other gates like magsafecrapgate, yosemiteslowgate, unbearablyslowgraphicsgate and such. But no staingate.

Why is it only happening on Macbook Pro's? Is it only happening to matte screens? (afair there's no matte screen option anymore?)

It seems that the MacBook Air for instance has other screen coating. So maybe it's more resistant.

As far as i remember the Air has a "plastic screen" while the MacBook Pro has a real glass layer with some special anti-reflection coating.

I've had the exact same thing on a flat screen CRT monitor from 1998 :P This is most definitely a result of cleaning the screen with some detergent that damages the anti-reflective coating, you can achieve the same effect on literally any screen, and someone is trying to make it look like only MacBooks have this problem.

I've used solvents on prior macbook screens. Maybe I shouldn't have but nothing like this has ever occurred. Nothing like this has ever happened on any LCD screen I've owned. It seems like a design flaw or a manufacturing defect to me.

>flat screen CRT monitor from 1998

and this is one of the reasons we moved on. Any coating is non permanent and will cause problems. You dont pay >$2K for a one year loan of a product, it shouldnt be build to fail.

I'm having this problem around the edges of my screen. The only cleaning product I've used is windex.

Windex contains ammonia, according to Apple it's not safe to use on screens:

> Don't use window cleaners, household cleaners, aerosol sprays, solvents, ammonia, abrasives, or cleaners containing hydrogen peroxide to clean the display.


Stick with a damp cloth.

(I use 99% isopropyl alcohol to clean my computer, screen and all. It's notably absent from Apple's list of forbidden chemicals, but I'm not sure that it's safe so I won't recommend it.)

I typically use isopropyl alcohol as well. Although I've periodically used Windex on my 2012 rMBP; no issues thus far, still looks brand new.

Thanks for the tip.

windex = bad. it has alcohol and other cleaning agents.


Apple immediately replaced the display on my late 2013 MacBook Pro after I reported this problem last week. I had only cleaned the display a few times, always using a damp microfiber cloth. I purchased an extended warranty when I bought the computer, so AppleCare paid for the repair.

Lucky you. But this is a problem that should be solved independent of warranty. The quality of the display is clearly not reaching customer expectations.

I totally agree. If I hadn't purchased AppleCare and I was asked to pay $700 for the repair, I would be very upset! This is clearly a manufacturing defect, and Apple will eventually have to address it in a systematic way.

I have seen many damaged computer screens, desktop and laptop. One of the most common themes is the cleaning solution used to clean the screen. A lot of people admits they are using the common household cleaning solutions to clean the screens.

and? screen is plastic, non abrasive cleaning solutions should NEVER affect it, whats more they NEVER did before those bullshit anti glare pure marketing reflective coatings came along.


Those screens were damaged, both plastic and glass alike.

Some people think that since it is a glass screen, using cleaning solution like Windex is ok. That’s so not recommended.

Seems like a superficial problem, most of the LCD is in order. Couldn't Apple issue a recall for the small number of affected user, give them a new screen back. Meanwhile they de-laminate and re-laminate the stained ones ?

Problems like this are the reasons why i will only buy Apple notebooks after they get a spec-refresh (upgraded CPU etc., but same technology). I am not willing to be the beta-tester for a $1500++ notebook.

How does that help an issue like this?

I think what they are saying is hopefully there is some mid cycle refresh that fixes this problem quietly.

I'm curious to know if any particular models are affected. For those of you with the issue, what model do you own? (Aside: It would be really nice if they'd open up their data.)

Did not know it's such a widespread problem. Had my 15'' retina display replaced for free at an end of warranty period, but they seemed puzzled about this type of damage.

I had something similar happen to me after I put my brand new MBP in my bag on a really cold day. Went away after I cleaned it with a microfiber.

Not exactly confidence inspiring.

This is a frustrating problem, especially since MacBooks have such a high price tag. However:

"The stains start to appear after 12 to 18 months."

That's beyond the warranty period of the MacBook. When you purchase a MacBook, Apple makes it very clear that the warranty will expire after a year. I don't think it's reasonable to hold a company accountable beyond their warranty period if the price and warranty are clearly defined at time of purchase. If Apple products continually fail just outside of their warranty, the market will adapt to reduce the amount people are willing to pay for Apple hardware.

One thing though: Apple always states their one year warranty (and tries to push Apple Care). Legislation in your country might disagree and Apple has to adhere to it. In Europe there are vast differences, ranging from 2 to 6 (!) years.

I'm a Macbook Retina owner myself and I'm not happy. Having a 2500 Euro machine that lasts as long as a 400 Euro crapbook?

Australia has a 'common sense' approach to it. Basically legislation says means Apple has to make sure that their machines must last for a reasonable period of time, considering their price, market power etc. They explicitly mention that would you expect a $400 watch to last longer than a $40 watch.

Apple devices are more expensive than their counterparts, and you would expect them to be made of a high quality and last longer. That's why in Australia Apple provides minimum of two years warranty on all their devices.

Unless you buy it in a country where you know......Apple is forced to offer a 2-year warranty by law(some EU countries).

You are witnessing the market adapting.

EDIT: To expand- you are complaining about people complaining about a manufacturer's product. The natural process of market adaptation that you expect might very well involve customers complaining.

I find the initiative is very interesting. Have you noticed there are no social media contacts? No follow us on Twitter?

I guess it is not the company i expected. Samsung next time with linux...

Best hardware, think different, walled garden ecosystem etc etc etc.

Ah the power of choice.

I damaged mine (very slightly) with a Clorox wipe. It was my own damn fault. I've had good luck cleaning my sunglasses with them and figured it would work for the computer.

I accept responsibility for this bad decision.

Oh, cool! Down voting with no explanation because I didn't express agreement!


...or the device was built wrong.

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