Apple keyboard issue prompts lawsuit

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On its website, Apple talks up the butterfly mechanism.

Screenshot by CNET

If you’re having problems with your MacBook keyboard, you’re not alone. And now the issue’s heading to court.

A class-action complaint filed Friday says people who bought a MacBook or MacBook Pro equipped with Apple’s “butterfly” keyboard “face a constant threat of nonresponsive keys and accompanying keyboard failure” and accuses Apple of failing to alert consumers about the issue.

Apple didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The lawsuit, filed in Northern California’s US District Court, follows blog posts, tweets, support-forum comments, a petition, and even a satirical song and video about the allegedly janky keyboards.

Apple introduced its “butterfly” switch in 2015, on the 12-inch MacBook. The bit of hardware replaced the traditional “scissor” mechanism below each key and was meant to be more stable, responsive and comfortable (as Apple says on its site). For some users, though, things apparently haven’t worked out that way.

People have complained about having to go a week or more without their computer while Apple replaced not just the unresponsive key, but a substantial part of their MacBook. And that was if their laptop was still under warranty. Others, less fortunate, have said the out-of-warranty fix can set you back $700.

Critics say Apple has been less-than-responsive about the problem. In June, the company’s customer-support team posted a webpage outlining how to clean the keyboard using a can of compressed air (some folks say that doesn’t always work, or that the problem recurs). In March, reports surfaced about Apple filing a patent for a crumb-resistant MacBook keyboard.

The keyboard lawsuit, posted by Apple Insider, which reported on it earlier, calls out MacBooks from 2015 or later and MacBook Pros from 2016 or later, and it says thousands of consumers have run into the defect.

The suit seeks class-action status and, among other things, asks that Apple be compelled to “provide adequate disclosure of the defective nature of the MacBooks” and “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.”

Girard Gibbs Ltd., the legal firm representing the plaintiffs, has a webpage about the “butterfly” keyboard issue. The firm didn’t return a call seeking additional comment.

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