Apple: Smoking Could Void Mac Warranty

| News

Two smokers found out the hard way that Apple isn't interested in fixing Macs that have been contaminated with cigarette smoke. In both cases, Mac owners requested AppleCare repairs and were denied because of cigarette smoke contamination, according to The Consumerist.

One Mac owner took their MacBook to the Jordan Creek Apple Store in West Des Moines, Iowa, because his computer had been overheating. "Apple store called and informed me that due to the computer having been used in a house where there was smoking, that has voided the warranty and they refuse to work on the machine, due to health risks of second hand smoke," he said.

In another case, a Mac owner took their iMac into a local authorized Apple repair center because it stopped working. "They informed me that his computer can't be worked on because it's contaminated," she said. "When I asked for an explanation, she said he's a smoker and it's contaminated with cigarette smoke which they consider a bio-hazard!"

There's no information in either case to indicate whether the smoke contamination was minimal, or if the internal components were heavily coated with smoke and tar residue. In both cases, however, Apple informed the Mac owners that their computers were considered bio hazards and employees would not be forced to repair computers that could pose potential health threats.

Apple hasn't responded to requests for additional information, but it seems clear that damage from cigarette smoke can be enough to void your AppleCare warranty.

Comments

Jeff Gamet

Since Apple isn’t offering up any more info about these Macs, I can only assume the cigarette smoke contamination was pretty extensive. Having opened up computers that have heavy smoke and tar build up, I can see why Apple wouldn’t be overly excited about repairing the machines. They could, however, offer more of an explanation than the bio hazard line.

Quandar

I wonder what they would do if it were from burning sage, candles, or medical marijuana?

Lee Dronick

“but it seems clear that damage from cigarette smoke can be enough to void your AppleCare warranty.”

Well two techs refused to work on tobacco tainted Macs, but is that general policy or the agenda of antismoking advocates? However, we don’t have details of the events, maybe the two Macs were very gummed up.

geoduck

is that general policy or the agenda of antismoking advocates?

That’s my question. Is this truly an “Apple” policy or a local decision because they didn’t want to work on stinking computers.

Lee Dronick

I wonder what they would do if it were from burning sage, candles, or medical marijuana?

Not very many people chain smudge with sage or or illuminate their workstation with candles. Medical marijuana probably isn’t something done while working on a Mac.

Lee Dronick

That?s my question. Is this truly an ?Apple? policy or a local decision because they didn?t want to work on stinking computers.

I looked at my Mac warranty and found this “damage caused by accident, abuse, misuse, flood, fire, earthquake or other external causes”

Is smoking tobacco near your Mac misuse, particularly in a room with little ventilation? My father’s office had quite a layer of tobacco wax (for lack of a better word). What is in cigarette tobacco ash that could cause problems if it fell into a keyboard. I did a search and found this study of magnetic material in cigarette ash I also saw references to ash containing quartz, silica and other minerals.

geoduck

A few years ago I worked on a Mac IIc (OK quite a few years ago) that was overheating. I pulled the cover and the inside was literally stuffed with hair. The owners had two long hair cats and several Lhasa Apso dogs and the thing was completely full of their hair. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of anyone refusing to work on a computer due to pet hair. I guess because I’m allergic to pet dander I could have called it a ‘biohazard”.

DanielDecker

Tar is a carcinogen and nicotine is an addictive and dangerous narcotic.

Would you expect these techs to work on machines covered in asbestos and laced with cocaine?

It’s been shown that 1 particle of smoke is enough to cause a head crash in a hard drive. Smoking near a computer can be considered abuse, IMO. And I say this as a former smoker who (many years ago) smoked near his Mac.

These cases seem to be judgement calls as of now, but I’d love to see Apple’s official policy on this.

MaxW

I’m a bit surprised that TMO is only reporting this now. The Consumerist published their story on Friday, I first heard about it on Saturday. Granted, TMO is closed on weekends, but still… it’s Tuesday.

Daver

Nicotine is not a narcotic.

I suppose now Apple is going to have to require their employees to wear clean suits when handling any computer.  After all, every computer that has been typed on could be a biohazard. For that matter, every person that walks in the store is a ‘biohazard’.

Lee Dronick

Nicotine is not a narcotic.

Neither is asbestos, cyanide, plutonium, or Flash, but that doesn’t mean that they are benign.

daver

> that doesn?t mean that they are benign.

Didn’t say it was benign. Just that it’s not a narcotic.

Quandar

Neither is asbestos, cyanide, plutonium, or Flash, but that doesn?t mean that they are benign.

It’s my guess there’s more danger from the lead in the solder then from touching tobacco residue, unless you lick it clean grin I’ve never seen so much fear being propagated before. I’m not just talking about tobacco smoke.

It’s nuts! Get lives people!

geoduck

I have to agree. I don’t know what these guys rational for refusing to work on the systems was but this sounds like an excuse.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

I’m glad Apple is taking a hard stance against smokers. It appears that smokers are also responsible for new iMacs that arrive DOA or with cracked screens.

geoduck

I?m glad Apple is taking a hard stance against smokers. It appears that smokers are also responsible for new iMacs that arrive DOA or with cracked screens.

LOL

ctopher

@Quandar - Modern macs have no lead as they are assembled using lead-free solder. It’s been the law in the EU for many years now. Look Up RoHS.

Also, when fixing an ash filled computer, your goal is to remove the ash and soot so that parts don’t overheat. To remove it, you have to disturb it and generally that makes it go airborne and uh-oh, it’s a hazard. Any bad chemicals in solder stays there until you disturb the solder. Most computer repair involves cleaning and swapping of parts. Very little soldering.

Nookster

“...due to health risks of second hand smoke,” from tar build up, good one.

Guess I should have mentioned my taste for macadamias when I swapped a keyboard, guy on the other end could have had nut-allergies. That said, Apple swapped my new kb for a refurb so maybe I’ll get Toxic Shock Syndrome at some point.

Robert

I can’t believe I’m even commenting on this, but you people must live pretty boring lives, to sit and write about about such a ignorant topic. Get a life and live ! You don’t have very long no matter what you breath or eat.

Lee Dronick

I can?t believe I?m even commenting on this, but you people must live pretty boring lives, to sit and write about about such a ignorant topic. Get a life and live ! You don?t have very long no matter what you breath or eat.

My life is my business

ipaqrat

If pressed, Apple will lose this one. No indication in any source I read, that the damage was caused specifically by smoke or smoking by-products. The “Particle of smoke in a hard drive” thing is BS - everyone knows hard drives are environmentally sealed.

And it’s nice that Apple is compliant with UK lead laws. America’s newfound “Green” philosophy, too.

But Apple doesn’t imply or specify anywhere in their warranty that substances characteristic of normal living and working environments may be considered “Contaminants” from which Apple technicians must be protected, and that such contamination will be grounds to deny an otherwise legitimate warranty claim. Therefore, obviously, Apple hasn’t specified at what concentration (PPM) such substances become contaminants, as opposed to mere substances.

I suppose they are experimenting with the boundaries of customers’ and courts’ tolerance for legalistic bullshit. If I were the judge on this case, I’d tell Apple “Shut up and wear gloves… You prissy bastards.”

Lee Dronick

If pressed, Apple will lose this one. No indication in any source I read, that the damage was caused specifically by smoke or smoking by-products. The ?Particle of smoke in a hard drive? thing is BS - everyone knows hard drives are environmentally sealed.

We don’t know the extent of damage or the cause. To the best of my knowledge there are no photos of the units in question, just the word of the parties involved. These could have been two really disgusting units or there were two antismoking zealots who overreacted.

Log-in to comment