Use consumer rights to refund for faulty MacBook - diary

In February 2020, a keyboard in my MacBook Pro 15.4-inch (model 2018) has broken down. I noticed typical repeating keys. Nothing new for the MacBook with the butterfly keyboard. I also noticed I have screen scratch (that I connect with staingate). I bought it in July 2018, which is one year and seven months earlier, and that was the time to fix it before two years pass. I also have got AppleCare Protection Plan for the computer. Because there's no Apple Store in my city, I went to the local Apple Authorized Service Provider to fix it.

After two weeks, Service rejected my claim in full with an explanation that:

  • the screen has a "cosmetic" scratch that is not under warranty.
  • The keyboard isn't broken; they clean it and "should ok" now.

I was astonished and skeptical, especially about the keyboard. I couldn't agree about the screen issue qualification. In the past, I experienced staingate issue with MacBook Pro model 2015 and back then, my screen was repaired (replaced) - It felt to me like it's the same (or similar) issue. So I called Apple (Apple International or something) and demand another eye check. It wasn't straightforward, but eventually, they overruled the Service decision and made my screen fixed (replaced) under warranty.

What I learned during the process is that the AppleCare Protection Plan is not AppleCare+. The former is more like customer support, with extended producer warranty to 2 years (1 year by default) - that is not necessarily what I expected. There's nothing like AppleCare+ level of support I expected. In a minute, I explain why, in my case, the AppleCare Protection Plan is worthless.

Back to the story. After another two weeks, I picked up my computer and brought it home. I did notice a new screen, and I was positive about the whole thing. It took me about ten more minutes to notice that the keyboard is broken in the very same way, though. I was pissed now. Four weeks without a computer and it back to me not fixed.

I called Apple. Apple said I should talk to Authorised Service that works on the repair. I call Authorised Service, and they said that the case is closed and I can bring the computer again for another check if I disagree. I was furious. I didn't want to argue with the Service any longer, so I called Apple to fix it. Apple said they wouldn't do anything because only Authorised Service can. At one point I said I don't want to talk to their subcontractor, I'm talking to the seller and I have this damn AppleCare something and would they mind to handle it and fix the computer. Apple denied my request and redirected me to Authorised Service directly.

I paid $4000 (paid extra for upgrades) for the computer and I can't fix it without fight. That's just to much. I remember I was so mad I could scream.

Then I realized I live in the European Union. European Union is this socialist organization that happens to care about consumers. Under EU rules, a trader must repair, replace, reduce the price or give you a refund if goods you bought turn out to be faulty or do not look or work as advertised. Details vary between countries.

I checked details that apply in my country, and it states that I can ask for repair or a full refund in 2 years since the purchase if a computer breaks for the second time.

That is exactly my case. I'm < 2 years, and this would be a second repair (first was screen).

I wen't to another Apple Authorized Service Provider and I asked for a written expert opinion about the keyboard. I received confirmation that the keyboard is broken.

The Telephone Game

I called Apple again, this time I asked for my rights derived fromConsumer Law warranty (that is not necessarily what's in a producer warranty), and since Apple Online Store is the seller, Apple Online Store is the guarantor here and have to handle my claim. Nobody listens to me.

What happened is this:

  • Call Apple to register a claim

    • Apple refused to register the claim - no known address, no known email where I can send my claim otherwise.
    • Apple redirect me to Apple Authorized Service Provider
    • Apple Authorized Service Provider deny my claim because this law does not apply to them (rightfully)
  • Call Apple to register claim (again)

    • Apple refuses to register the claim and refuses to send me their decision in any written form
    • Apple refuses to record the phone call where they explain to me they can't help me so that I can use it as an evidence later
    • Apple redirect me to Apple Online Store in Ireland
  • Call with Apple Online Store Ireland

    • Apple refuses to register the claim and refuses to send me their decision in any written form
    • Apple Online Store redirect my case back to my country
  • Call with Apple

    • Apple informs me there's nothing they can do. They ask me to bring my computer to Apple Authorized Service Provider, and it will fix it under Keyboard Service Program for MacBook
    • I was notified that Apple don't do refund at all, and Apple 1-year warranty does not apply in my case (obviously I didn't ask for it)
    • I asked about my consumer laws. I pointed to the Apple Online Store where consumer right is quoted, and I asked again to obey it. I hear, "no, there's nothing we can do about it. We don't have a procedure for this".

It took about a month, and I'm really pissed! I called the local Consumer Center and learned that there's European Consumer Centres Network that can help me. If you live in the EU, Iceland, Norway, or the UK, the ECC in your country can:

  • explain your rights as a consumer
  • help you settle a dispute with a seller based in another EU country (or Iceland or Norway)
  • tell you who to contact if they can't help

I send my complaints to ECC in my country. Their lawyers contacted ECC in Ireland (because this is where Apple Online Store is registered in EU). Their lawyers contacted Apple.

After three weeks or so, somebody from Apple called me back and told me they received my claim (woohoo). I also learned that they can fix my keyboard under the Keyboard Service Program for MacBook but can't refund (as I requested) because Apple's 1-year warranty already passed. Like nothing happened. They ignored my claim totally, they ignored EU consumer law completely. I deny, I repeated my claim and quoted my right again. I was pissed even more, and demand a written response to the letter from ECC (that was sent in written form, on paper, on my behalf, and I know Apple as an organization needs to respond). Apple representative said he has to check the letter with Legal Team (what? they didn't even care to check what I want).

Two weeks later I've got another call, this time I was informed that they'll refund the purchase in total once I send the computer back.

Too big to respect consumer rights?

I've heard from Consumer Center lawyer, that I'm not the first one who have hard time with Apple to obey consumer rules. The fact that the procedure will take months, and you have to be stubborn to bring it to Apple attention, plays in Apple's advantage so they don't care until forced.

On the other hand, the very same rules apply to Apple Authorized Resellers, which (I know that from second hand) can't afford to ignore Consumer Law. We all should play by the same rules.

PS. This is the last time I bought AppleCare Protection Plan that gives me literally nothing - my consumer rights are more complete for the same period of time.