Earlier this week, Apple agreed to a proposed $50 million settlement in a class-action lawsuit alleging that the butterfly keyboard used on some MacBook, MacBook Air and MacBook Pro models is defective, which could lead to usability problems.
Image via iFixit
The settlement still needs final court approval. In the meantime, here’s everything you need to know about the agreement as currently proposed.
The proposed settlement applies to any resident of the United States who meets all three criteria:
- You purchased any MacBook, MacBook Air, or MacBook Pro with a butterfly keyboard between 2015 and 2019 in the US (excluding resale purposes)
- You obtained a qualified keyboard repair from Apple or an Apple Authorized Service Provider
- The fix did not solve the keyboard problems
The class action does not apply to MacBook models sold outside 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-inch, 2016, 2 Thunderbolt 3 ports)
- MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2017, 2 Thunderbolt 3 ports)
- MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2019, 2 Thunderbolt 3 ports)
- MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2016, four Thunderbolt 3 ports)
- MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2017, four Thunderbolt 3 ports)
- MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2016)
- MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2017)
- MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2018, four Thunderbolt 3 ports)
- MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2018)
- MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2019, Four Thunderbolt 3 Ports)
- MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2019)
To select your Mac, click on the Apple logo in the upper left corner of the screen and click “About This Mac” in the drop-down menu.
Eligible class members may be able to receive a return of up to $395 from Apple, but it depends on how many people file a claim and other factors.
- Class members who obtain two or more best-case replacements from Apple or an authorized service provider within four years after purchasing an eligible MacBook model, based on Apple’s records, will be paid automatically without the need to file a claim, subject to the proposed settlement. Apple’s payments to each class member in this group range from $300 to $395.
- It is estimated that class members who obtain a single case replacement from Apple or an authorized service provider within four years after purchasing an eligible MacBook model, and who certify in a claim form that the repair did not resolve their keyboard issues, will receive up to $125.
- Class members who obtained replacement (but not capitalized) one or more keycaps from Apple or an authorized service provider within four years after purchasing an eligible MacBook model, and who certify that the repair did not solve their keyboard issues are appreciated. To receive up to $50.
If you received a repair history from Apple or an Apple Authorized Service Provider, it will determine whether you received a replacement upper case or key cover replacement. The top case indicates the component that includes the MacBook keyboard, trackpad, affixed battery, and speakers. Keycaps refer to individual keys.
Each of the 12 designated class plaintiffs/representatives will receive up to $5,000 in award for their time and effort, and attorneys will receive up to 30% of the settlement fund in attorneys’ fees, according to the proposed settlement.
Settlement payments are only available to class members who have received repairs made by Apple or an Apple Authorized Service Provider. The Settlement does not provide compensation for any repairs completed by unauthorized third party repair providers or any other personal expenses, in accordance with the proposed Agreement.
All individuals who fit the proposed category description have the right to exclude themselves from the settlement. By excluding yourself from the Settlement, you are not eligible to receive damages as part of the Settlement, but you do retain your individual rights to sue Apple for the same claims described in your class action lawsuit.
Class members will be able to submit a request for exclusion through the website of the impending settlement or by US mail to the settlement official. The deadline for exclusion will be 95 days after the initial approval of the settlement.
Apple denies any wrongdoing
Although it agreed to a $50 million settlement, Apple said it denies all allegations in the lawsuit, according to the proposed settlement:
Apple denies all allegations in the lawsuit, denies that the MacBooks are defective, and denies that Apple has done anything improper or illegal. Apple asserts several defenses to the allegations in this case. The proposed settlement of this issue is not an admission of guilt or wrongdoing of any kind by Apple.
However, Apple concluded that the settlement was “in its interest” to avoid the additional time and legal expenses associated with lengthy litigation.
Given the settlement, the court has not decided in favor of Apple or the plaintiffs.
If and when the proposed settlement receives final approval by the US District Court for the Northern District of California, a settlement website will be created where class members can file a claim, file for exclusion, and learn additional information.
Apple will provide the Settlement Administrator with email addresses for each class member who has a registered email address. The Settlement Officer will then notify the class members by email in a timely manner. Some class members may also be notified by US Postal. If you do not receive notice but meet the proposed term description, it will be possible to submit a claim through the settlement website once it becomes effective.
The final settlement justice report hearing will take place at least 130 days after the initial approval of the settlement, so there will likely be several months left until things are finalized and payments to class members begin.
Free Apple Keyboard Service Program
In 2018, Apple launched the Keyboard Service Program after determining that a “small percentage” of keyboards on some MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro models might exhibit one or more of the following behaviors:
- Letters or characters are repeated unexpectedly
- Characters or characters not showing
- The key(s) feel “fixed” or not respond in a consistent manner
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 first retail sale of the affected notebook. However, the problem with the fix is that Apple replaces the butterfly keyboard with another butterfly keyboard, which means that the same problems may recur over time.
Apple says that customers who believe their MacBook has been affected by this issue and have paid for a keyboard repair can contact Apple for a refund.
In March 2019, Apple apologized for this. “We are aware that a small number of users are experiencing issues with the third-generation Butterfly keyboard and for that we are sorry,” an Apple spokesperson said. The Wall Street Journal. “The vast majority of Mac notebook customers have a positive experience with the new keyboard.”
Starting with the 16-inch MacBook Pro in November 2019, Apple ditched the butterfly keyboard and reverted to a more reliable scissor keyboard. Apple no longer sells any Macs with butterfly keyboards, putting an end to years of complaints.