Earlier this week, Apple agreed to a proposed $50 million settlement in a class-action lawsuit alleging that the butterfly keyboard used in certain MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro models was defective, which can lead to usability problems.
Image via iFixit
The settlement still has to be finally approved by the court. In the meantime, here is everything you need to know about the agreement as it is currently proposed.
The proposed regulation applies to all persons who meet all three criteria:
- Purchased a MacBook, MacBook Air, or MacBook Pro with a butterfly keyboard in the United States between 2015 and 2019 (except for resale purposes)
- You received a qualifying keyboard repair from Apple or an Apple Authorized Service Provider
- The repair did not fix your keyboard problems
The class action lawsuit does not apply to MacBook models sold outside of the United States.
Eligible MacBook models
- MacBook (Retina, 12-inch, Early 2015)
- MacBook (Retina, 12-inch, Early 2016)
- MacBook (Retina, 12-inch, 2017)
- MacBook Air (Retina, 13-inch, 2018)
- MacBook Air (Retina, 13-inch, 2019)
- MacBook Pro 13″ 2016 Dual Thunderbolt 3 Ports
- MacBook Pro 13″ 2017 Dual Thunderbolt 3 Ports
- MacBook Pro 13″ 2019 Dual Thunderbolt 3 Ports
- MacBook Pro 13″ 2016 Four Thunderbolt 3 Ports
- MacBook Pro 13″ 2017 Four Thunderbolt 3 Ports
- MacBook Pro (15 inch, 2016)
- MacBook Pro (15 inch, 2017)
- MacBook Pro 13″ 2018 Four Thunderbolt 3 Ports
- MacBook Pro (15 inch, 2018)
- MacBook Pro 13″ 2019 Four Thunderbolt 3 Ports
- MacBook Pro 15″ 2019
To identify your Mac, click the Apple logo in the upper-left corner of the screen and click About This Mac from the drop-down menu.
Eligible group members may be able to receive a payout of up to $395 from Apple, but this depends on how many people file claims and other factors.
- Class members who have received two or more top case replacement parts from Apple or an authorized service provider within four years of purchase of an eligible MacBook model will be automatically paid under the proposed settlements without having to file a claim. Apple’s payment to each class member in this group is estimated to be between $300 and $395.
- Class members who received a replacement top case from Apple or an authorized service provider within four years of purchase of a qualifying MacBook model and who certify on a claim form that the repair did not resolve their keyboard problems are estimated to receive up to US$125 -dollars .
- Class members who have received one or more replacement keycaps (but not a replacement top case) from Apple or an authorized service provider within four years of purchase of an eligible MacBook model and certify that the repair did not resolve their keyboard problems will be eligible estimated to get up to $50.
If you received a repair report from Apple or an Apple Authorized Service Provider, it will indicate whether you received a top case replacement or a keycap replacement. The top case refers to the component that includes the keyboard, trackpad, glued-in battery, and speakers of a MacBook. Keycaps refer to individual keys.
Each of the 12 named plaintiffs/class representatives will receive up to $5,000 in reward for their time and effort, and attorneys will receive up to 30% of the settlement fund in attorneys’ fees under the proposed settlement.
Settlement Payouts are only available to Class Members who received repairs from Apple or an Apple Authorized Service Provider. The settlement, under the proposed agreement, does not provide for reimbursement for repairs performed by unauthorized third-party service providers or for other out-of-pocket expenses.
request for exclusion
Any person matching the description of the proposed class has the right to opt out of the comparison. By opting out of the settlement, you are not eligible to receive any payout as part of the settlement, but retain your individual rights to sue Apple for the same allegations set forth in the class action lawsuit.
Class Members may request an exclusion through the forthcoming Settlement Website or by US mail to the Settlement Administrator. The cut-off period is 95 days after the preliminary approval of the settlement.
Apple denies any wrongdoing
Despite agreeing to a $50 million settlement, Apple denies all allegations made in the lawsuit, according to the proposed settlement:
Apple denies all allegations made in the lawsuit, denies that any MacBooks are defective, and denies that Apple did anything improper or illegal. Apple raises numerous objections to the claims in this case. The proposed settlement to resolve this case is not an admission of guilt or wrongdoing of any kind on the part of Apple.
Apple nonetheless concluded that a settlement “is in its best interests” to avoid additional time and legal costs associated with lengthy litigation.
Given the settlement, the court did not find in favor of Apple or the plaintiffs.
If and when the proposed settlement is finally approved by the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, a settlement website will be created where class members may claim, file a request for disqualification, and obtain additional information.
Apple provides the Comparison Manager with the email addresses of all class members for whom Apple has an email address on file. The comparison administrator will then notify the class members in good time by e-mail. Some class members may also be notified by US mail. If you don’t receive a notification but match the description of the proposed class, you can submit a claim through the comparison site once it’s live.
A final hearing to determine the fairness of the Settlement will be held at least 130 days after the Settlement’s provisional approval, leaving likely several months before things are finalized and payments to Class members begin.
Apple’s free keyboard service program
In 2018, Apple launched a keyboard servicing program after discovering that a “small percentage” of keyboards in certain MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro models may exhibit one or more of the following behaviors:
- Letters or characters repeat themselves unexpectedly
- Letters or characters are not displayed
- Key(s) feel “sticky” or do not respond consistently
As part of the global program, Apple or an Apple Authorized Service Provider will repair eligible MacBook, MacBook Air and MacBook Pro keyboards free of charge for up to four years after the affected notebook’s first retail sale. One issue with the repair program, however, is that Apple replaces the butterfly keyboard with a different butterfly keyboard, which means the same issues can recur over time.
Apple says customers who believe their MacBook was affected by this issue and paid for their keyboard repairs can contact Apple for a refund.
In March 2019, Apple apologized for the matter. “We’re aware that a small number of users are experiencing issues with their third-generation butterfly keyboard, and we’re sorry,” said an Apple spokesman The Wall Street Journal. “The vast majority of Mac notebook customers have had a positive experience with the new keyboard.”
Starting with the 16-inch MacBook Pro in November 2019, Apple ditched the butterfly keyboard and went back to using a more reliable scissor keyboard. Apple no longer sells Macs with butterfly keyboards, putting an end to years of complaints.