Katrin had some odd problems with her Macbook last week. The mouse button on the trackpad stopped working and the machine began locking up intermittently. I dug around for an hour or so trying to figure it out and finally gave up, figuring it was a hardware problem with the mouse.
1 trip to the Apple Store and $130 later, we had a solution: it was indeed a hardware problem, but with the battery, not the mouse. The “Genius” at the Apple Store (they really should rename that tech support role) explained that batteries in Macbooks can sometimes expand, phsyically swelling up to the point where they push against the edge of the battery container, damaging laptop internals and even cracking the case.
Don’t believe me? Check out these images of bloated and cracked Macbooks. Swollen-battery-itis.
The fix, provided your laptop isn’t irreparably damaged by this problem, is to simply buy a new battery. Although some people report online that they convinced Apple to replace the battery for free, most say Apple won’t cover the problem. Sorry for you.
The kicker: the Genius also explained:
- You shouldn’t leave your laptop plugged in for more than one hour after it reaches full charge. Instead, unplug and let it run down to near zero. (One assumes you should also plan your day carefully so that you are near electricity at the right times.)
- The expanding battery is “by design”, i.e. the battery is designed to expand so that you know it has reached the end of its life. Uhhh… no, I don’t think so. Can you imagine the battery in a car expanding to the point where it cracks the battery casing and damages the engine? In the auto industry that’s cause for a product recall.
It’s a design flaw, plain and simple. Just admit it.
I like my Macbook a lot, but problems like this and the recent iPhone antenna debacle make me wish Apple would admit failures openly and handle them with grace. I’m reminded of one of Microsoft’s more odious traits back when it was riding high: a notable arrogance and disdain towards customers. It wasn’t Microsoft products that had problems, it was “stupid customers using it wrong”.
Apple, you need us more than we need you.