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Blogger Victorious over Apple in Small Claims Case on NVIDIA GPU Failures

Back in January, blogger Seattle Rex announced that he would be suing Apple over issues related to his 2008 MacBook Pro that appears to have suffered from an NVIDIA graphics card failure. According to Rex, the graphics chip on his top-of-the-line 17-inch MacBook Pro began to flake out late last year, two months after his AppleCare extended warranty expired, and a month later the machine died completely, refusing to boot.

Upon taking the machine to the Genius Bar at a local Apple retail store, Rex was informed that because the machine could not be booted to confirm that the graphics chip was indeed defective, he would have to pay for all repairs to the machine, up to $600.
I proceeded to explain my displeasure with the “genius”, firmly, but politely. I explained, calmly, that a $4,500 laptop that fails in 3 years and 3 months is defective. Period. I explained to him that a chip on the mainboard was known to be defective, and that Apple had admitted as much. I was calm, but at this point, I think my temper was starting to show, because I could feel that telltale flushness in my face.
Following an additional two months of speaking to various levels of Apple's support and executive relations teams and filing a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, all to no avail, Rex filed suit against Apple in small claims court seeking compensation for his dead MacBook Pro and associated expenses.


And finally, Rex earlier this week published a lengthy blog post outlining his experience facing off against two Apple lawyers last week and winning an unspecified sum sufficient to purchase a new computer. Among the interesting incidents from the proceedings:

- Apple's lawyers argued that Rex's MacBook Pro wasn't covered by the repair program because he had purchased a build-to-order machine with a faster processor, even though the machine carried the same GeForce 8600M GT graphics chip that was the subject of the repair program. Only after Rex presented this information to the court did Apple's lawyers admit the fact and concede that the machine should be covered for repair.

- Rex had refused to accept a replacement logic board for his MacBook Pro, arguing that he would simply receive yet another defective GeForce 8600M GT chip. Apple's lawyers conceded that the machine could only accept the GeForce 8600M GT chip, and the judge ruled that Rex's machine was not repairable.

- Apple fought the case even though a repair could have been made at no expense to Apple, as NVIDIA was covering the cost of repairs related to the defective chip.
At one point, the judge asked Apple how much it would have cost them to have simply replaced my logic board when I had taken it in, and one of the Apple guys said “Oh, it wouldn’t have cost us anything, Nvidia foots the bill for each board we replace.”

The judge’s face almost hit the floor as he shot me a quizzical look, to which I just shrugged. I knew that he, and everyone else in the courtroom was thinking the same thing:

If Apple could have replaced my logic board at no cost to themselves, then why in the hell did they drag this out for so long, and why did they send two people to court to try and make sure that I got absolutely nothing? Friends, this is a question I have been asking myself for three months, and it is a question that I do not have the answer to.
Rex still has to collect on the judgment, which covers the cost of a new computer and compensation for court costs and other minor expenses, and he remains concerned that Apple will try to avoid making the required payment.

Beyond his own case, Rex notes in an update to his post that the response from readers has been overwhelming, with numerous readers sharing similar tales of being unable to have suspected NVIDIA graphics chip failures covered by Apple's repair program. Consequently, he is now considering organizing a class action lawsuit to allow those affected by the issue to band together in seeking compensation.

Top Rated Comments

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35 months ago
you shouldn't have to sue to get a repair
Rating: 109 Votes
35 months ago

- Apple's lawyers argued that Rex's MacBook Pro wasn't covered by the repair program because he had purchased a build-to-order machine with a faster processor, even though the machine carried the same GeForce 8600M GT graphics chip that was the subject of the repair program.


So a BTO system isn't covered? Um, I have a BTO Mac Pro, does that mean I'm not covered? Is this because he didn't have AppleCare, or that it ran out? What an odd thing to contest.


- Apple fought the case even though a repair could have been made at no expense to Apple, as NVIDIA was covering the cost of repairs related to the defective chip.


This irks me the most. Apple has BILLIONS in cash, but they would rather spend more money on lawyers fighting a simple exchange for a known issue? I don't care if this sets a precedent against Apple, backup your products and stop bullying people. This is shameful.
Rating: 81 Votes
35 months ago

This is why you don't buy some overpriced computer :rolleyes:.


cheap computers break too you know, and more often.

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More people suing Apple over silly things, what else is new???


if you were this guy would you see $600 as a silly thing?
Rating: 68 Votes
35 months ago
Sounds like they have too many bored lawyers at Apple.
Rating: 59 Votes
35 months ago

This is why you don't buy some overpriced computer :rolleyes:.


This nVidia issue affected models across all vendors including lower end dell and HPs with the 8600m. Try again.
Rating: 57 Votes
35 months ago
About time America bought in consumer protection laws, like the UK's Sales of Goods Act and similar Acts in EU countries.
Rating: 54 Votes
35 months ago
Apple can't always be the good guy, but why spend money fighting this ? Cheaper just to cover the repairs for what is an obvious defective product.
Rating: 53 Votes
35 months ago

Bah. My $1,500 MSI laptop has been flawless for 18 months (and counting). People I follow on Twitter have had far more issues with their Macs, but to each his own. Or her, I suppose.


... his laptop was flawless for 3 years.
Rating: 52 Votes
35 months ago
I run a rather small Mac Repair business in Southern Scotland. From my experience, I am quite sure that this is a much bigger issue than Apple have ever admitted to. I have seen dozens of these MBP's with the NVIDIA problem.

I have the NVIDIA test suite that is used in Apple stores and find that it produces very inconsistent results.

During the short period between the expiry, and subsequent extension, of the Repair Programme, i came up with a fix that gives the user a few more months of use. However, when the programme was extended, i sent all of my customers to Apple along with a prepared bunch of supporting paperwork and clear instructions on how to gently, but firmly, escalate the issue until a suitable resolution was offered by Apple. Until very recently, every customer had been successful in getting the logic board replaced. However, Apple are now refusing service based on the age of the laptop.

I find it difficult to comprehend why Apple simply don't proceed with the repair without question, especially if NVIDIA are picking up the tab. Each case is an opportunity for Apple to show their dedication to their faithful customers and prove to them that their highly-rated Customer Satisfaction levels are justified.

Apple can exonerate themselves completely with regards to this problem. NVIDIA have acknowledged the issue publicly.

This defect must now be added to the list of others that Apple have handled pretty badly...

1. iBook G4 GPU issue
2. PowerMac G4 'wind tunnel' models
3. PowerBook G4 lower memory slot
4. PowerMac G5 liquid cooling system

Macs are premium products that should come with premium service/support. If i own a top-of-the-range BMW M5, and i have a major problem with it, i expect my dealership to jump through hoops to satisfy me.
Rating: 52 Votes
35 months ago

More people suing Apple over silly things, what else is new???


Hardly silly considering Apple wouldn't have had to pay anything to get it replaced in the first place. This is a case of corporate bullying (and bullheadedness) and I'm glad the blogger took it to court and won. The silly thing in all of this is Apple refusing to make the repair at no cost to the user from the beginning.
Rating: 43 Votes

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