After reading a story on The Consumerist, consumer protection site owned by Consumers Union, I could not stop thinking. The subject of smoking tobacco is always an interesting one. From one side, there is default "if you smoke, you know it’s probably bad for you" and from another comes the grave error that tobacco industry made when it came to advertising their products. Personally, I was always neutral when it comes to smoking because a part of my family has to smoke tobacco [not the post-processed kind known as cigarettes] to avoid a non-curable cancer. Yes, that’s correct – smoke to avoid cancer. At least that particular type. I came clean in genetic testing and hence, I am not smoking but I am definitely against discrimination of any type.
The reason for this story is a set of isolated incidents where Mac owners who experienced issues with their computers ended shut out by Apple Inc., claiming secondary smoke and OSHA violations are the cause for the warranty termination. Given the description of the issues at hand, we smell a seven-day old fish left out at 50C/120F.
"Dena set up an appointment at the same Apple store. They told me that they would take pictures of the computer – both inside and out before determining whether to proceed and that if the only problem was the optical drive, they’d probably just replace it. Dena called me earlier this week to deliver the "bad news." She said that the computer is beyond economical repair due to tar from cigarette smoke! She said the hard drive is about to fail, the optical drive has failed and it isn’t feasible to repair the computer under the warranty. This computer is less than 2 years old! Only one person in my household smokes – one 21 year old college student. She said that I can get it repaired elsewhere at my expense. I asked why my warranty didn’t cover the repair and was told it’s an OSHA violation."
There are two sides of each medal, but after reading a certain Apple-related story on the Consumerist, this definitely takes the cake. It turns out that fruity company from Cupertino decided to void warranty if you’re a smoker without stating that in the purchasing contract or warranty terms. Regardless of being a smoker or not, this is illegal. Secondly, calling "OSHA violation" at the time when Apple still ships products that contain hazardous materials is nothing else but bull.
In all seriousness, this is a dangerous precedence, because if customers don’t end up suing Apple for discrimination we might end up with more invisible warranty limitations which you would be unaware of. This issue goes beyond nicotine as a hazardous material as it opens us a whole set of circumstances where a company that is known for manufacturing fragile hardware maximizes its profits as it unilaterally shuts part of the warranty without prior consent. In Croatia, there is a saying: "ako prodje, prodje" [If it passes – passes.] Seems to us that Apple is joining American airline carriers in shunning own consumers.
We offer you improbable, but not impossible timeline of future warranty limitations by Apple [do note the lighter tone]:
2010: Apple voids warranty to all users who leave their computers in dusty rooms
2011: Apple voids warranty to drivers with "DUI" [Driving Under Influence]
2012: After initial shock, Apple cancels warranty to any alcohol consumer, citing "our machines feel threatened"
2013: Apple voids warranty to women during pregnancy "to avoid child trauma"
2014: The company cancels warranty if you eat meat because "you’re damaging the planet"
2015: AppleCare technician has to qualify you to see are you suited for purchasing Apple’s product
2016: Additional controversy: Apple initiates genepool testing to determine product suitability
2020: Apple cancels warranty to all carbon-based life forms – "because you aren’t organic enough"
Fruity company? Then again, with all these restrictions, one might start to ask – instead of telling people how to live and what they can or can’t consume, it might be a good idea to either re-start manufacturing or put more attention to QA department over at Foxconn. People who paid several thousand dollars for their Core i7-based iMacs aren’t amused at the fact a lot of iMac units are arriving dead.