Apple faces class action suit

The second-generation butterfly switches on the Apple MacBook. Image Apple

Now it looks like the keyboard debacle has been taken one step further because according to AppleInsider, a class action lawsuit has been filed in which it claims that Apple knew about the defects in their keyboards but still chose to ship them out anyway.

Plaintiffs ZiXuan Rao and Kyle Barbados filed the 44-page suit Friday in Northern California's U.S. District Court "on behalf of all others similarly situated" who bought a computer with "a constant threat of nonresponsive keys and accompanying keyboard failure".

The complaint included multiple claims of an issue with the design of Apple's butterfly keyboard mechanism included in MacBook variants manufactured since 2015 and on MacBook Pro models since 2016. "[Apple should] return to Plaintiffs and Class members all costs attributable to remedying or replacing defective MacBook laptops, including but not limited to economic losses from the purchase of replacement laptops". Just a small speck of dust or debris can cause problems, apparently. Despite awareness of the keyboard defect, Apple equipped future model MacBook and MacBook Pro laptops with the butterfly keyboard, and continued selling these laptops to consumers at premium prices.

As of May 12, Apple did not respond to the lawsuit.

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Customer complaints about the keyboard can be found in long threads on Reddit and ycombinator. Many users complained that the mechanism got stuck, making the keys unusable. As VentureBeat highlights though, those repairs can be expensive, with some users quoted as much as $700 for the fix. It says that after collecting service data for the first year of release for the 2014, 2015, and 2016 MacBook Pros, it concluded that - excluding Touch Bar failures - the 2016 MacBook Pro keyboard has been failing its users twice as often in the first year of use as the 2014 or 2015 MacBook Pro models.

That petition - which cites among others the highly regarded writer and UI designer John Gruber, who has called the keyboard "one of the biggest design screwups in Apple history" - is gaining steam again today, presumably fueled by this new lawsuit.

While Apple never acknowledged the flaw in public, it did encourage users to clean their keyboards with a can of compressed air.

Consumers then launched an online petition demanding that Apple recall all of the MacBook Pro laptops since late 2016, and replace the keyboards.

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