Apple MacBook owners could be in for a payout as part of a new $50 million class-action settlement, though those with the laptops will have to meet a certain set of criteria to qualify.
The original lawsuit revolves around laptops that were fitted with a certain kind of keyboard that were available for purchase between 2015 and 2019.
However, not everyone with those laptops will be eligible for a payout as part of the settlement.
Here’s what you need to know and how to find out if you’re eligible:
What is the settlement about and how much is it for?
According to court documents, a class-action lawsuit filed in 2022 alleges that MacBook laptops sold between 2015-2019 contained defective butterfly keyboards. The malfunctions, the lawsuit claims, can result in “characters repeating unexpectedly; letters or characters not appearing; and/or the keys feeling “sticky” or not responding in a consistent manner.”
While Apple denies all allegations claimed in the suit, a settlement of $50 million was reached in July of 2022.
A report from Macworld says the lawsuit was originally limited to eligible users in the eight states where consumers brought about the suit — Massachusetts, New York, Illinois, Florida, Washington, New Jersey, and Michigan. However, a November 2022 decision from a judge in a Northern California District Court approved the $50 million settlement to apply to purchasers of the specific MacBook laptops nationwide.
What exactly is a ‘butterfly’ keyboard?
In 2015, Apple released its newly designed MacBook, saying it had been “reinvented in every way to deliver the thinnest and lightest Macs ever,” an announcement from the company stated. “Every component of the new MacBook has been meticulously redesigned to create a Mac® that weighs just two pounds and is 13.1 mm thin.”
The announcement goes on to describe the laptop’s newly designed butterfly keyboard, noting that such a thin MacBook design meant “completely re-engineering how a notebook keyboard works.”
According to Apple, the keyboard’s butterfly mechanism is “40% thinner than a traditional keyboard scissor mechanism, yet four times more stable, providing greater precision no matter where your finger strikes the key.”
But complaints and reports indicate the keyboard often malfunctioned.
A report from the BBC indicates that Apple in 2018, after several complaints, launched a “Keyboard Service Program” for affected laptops that covers keyboard repairs for four years after the date of purchase.
However, the BBC reports, “customers said the replacements often had the same issues.”
According to tech website 9to5 Mac, Apple in 2020 phased out the butterfly keyboard and reverted to using standard scissor switches.
The $50 million settlement states that Apple denies that any MacBooks are defective, “and denies that Apple did anything improper or unlawful,” adding that “Apple asserts numerous defenses to the claims in this case,” and that the settlement to resolve the case “is not an admission of guilt or wrongdoing of any kind by Apple.”
How Do I Know if My MacBook is Part of the Settlement?
If you did purchase a MacBook between 2015 and 2019, you might be owed a payout. However, the amount you could receive is based on tiers, and you’ll need specific information in order to correctly file a claim.
According to the settlement website, “The Settlement Class includes all persons and entities in the United States who purchased, other than for resale, one or more of the following Apple 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, Two Thunderbolt 3 Ports)
MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2017, Two Thunderbolt 3 Ports)
MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2019, Two 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)
The settlement website also indicates that the suit includes “all purchasers, including individuals, corporations, and other entities.”
You can quickly determine the make/model of your MacBook here.
How do I file a claim?
Eligible purchasers received a notice via email or postcard with a Unique ID and Pin number in order to file a claim, the settlement website states. Those who did not receive that information can file a claim here.
However, “if you are not sure whether you are included, or if you believe you should be included but didn’t receive a notification, “you can call the Claims Administrator at 1-855-579-1311 for more information,” the settlement website states.
Note that proof of purchase and the serial number of your MacBook laptop are required for the claim to be approved.
Corporations or individuals that purchased 25 or more affected models must follow a special process to facilitate claim filing and email the Settlement Administrator for assistance, the settlement says.
How much could I get?
According to the Settlement litigation website, how much you could get from the settlement ranges from $50 to $395, and depends on how many times you attempted to get either your entire keyboard or individual keycaps replaced.
“The amount Settlement Class Members will receive (and what they must do to get a payment) depends on which of the three categories they fall into and how many eligible Settlement Class Members are ultimately determined to fall into each category,” the website specifically details.
Here’s a breakdown of each of those categories. Note that all keyboard replacements must have been done within four years of purchase, the fine print in the settlement states:
Group 1: Those who obtained two or more Topcase — or full keyboard — replacements, will receive a payment without the need to submit a claim, the website states.
“Settlement Class Members in this group will receive an email or postcard Notice confirming eligibility for payment and requesting confirmation of contact information.”
According to the site, class members in this group “will receive an initial payment of $300, but the actual payment could be more or less, depending on the number of eligible Settlement Class Members in each category.”
The maximum payment for Group 1 is $395, the site says.
“A Settlement Class Member can meet the eligibility requirements for this group and receive payment if they obtain two or more Topcase Replacements anytime until November 28, 2024,” the settlement states.
Group 2: Those whoobtained only one Topcase replacement “must submit a claim to receive payment,” the settlement administrator says, “and must declare that the repair did not resolve their keyboard issues.”
“The maximum payment for Group 2 Settlement Class Members is $125, but it may be less,” according to the settlement.
Group 3: “Those who obtained one of more keycap replacements must submit a claim to receive payment,” and “must declare that the repair did not resolve their keyboard issues.”
The maximum payment for Group 3 is $50, the settlement indicates.
According to the settlement administrator, any Topcase or Keycap replacements or repairs must have been completed by Apple, or an Apple Authorized Service Provider in order for a claim to be eligible for payout.
My MacBook is part of the class-action suit, but I never got my keyboard replaced. Can I file a claim?
You can file a claim, but you won’t be eligible for a payout, the settlement says.
“If you own a Class Computer and did not obtain a Keycap Replacement or Topcase Replacement within the first four years of ownership, you are not eligible for payment,” the settlement notes.
“Apple’s Keyboard Service Program provides four years of protection and remains available for any Class Member who may experience future issues within four years of purchase,” the settlement goes on to say. In some cases, the settlement states, Apple may have a record of your repairs.
When is the deadline to file a claim?
All claims must be submitted electronically, emailed or postmarked “no later than March 6, 2023,” the settlement says.
How and when will I get a payment?
A “Final Approval Hearing” is set to be held March 16, 2023.
“If the Settlement is approved, there may be appeals. The appeal process can take time. If there is no appeal, your settlement benefit will be processed promptly. Please be patient.”
For those eligible to receive a payment, the settlement indicates Apple may reach out to eligible purchasers for information on how to receive a payment. If Apple does not have a repair on record, Class Members should submit a claim form, the settlement website states.
More information about the settlement can be found here.
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