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.