Apple won't fix your computer if you smoke near it

Consumerist's Laura Northrup rounds up several years' worth of stories from Apple customers who say they were denied warranty support on their computers because they'd smoked around them. As an annoying ex-smoker, I can sympathize with a tech who doesn't want to work on a machine that smells like an old ashtray, but that's what painter's masks are for -- I've also serviced machines that reeked of BO and other less savory odors. This just feels like a way to weasel out of doing warranty service and forcing customers to pay for new machines. If the company has a policy of not fixing machines if you smoke near them, it should say so when it sells you the warranty: WARNING: IF YOU LIGHT UP NEAR YOUR LAPTOP, WE WON'T EVER FIX IT, EVEN IF IT IS MATERIALLY DEFECTIVE.

Dena set up an appointment at the same Apple store. They told me that they would take pictures of the computer – both inside and out before determining whether to proceed and that if the only problem was the optical drive, they’d probably just replace it. Dena called me earlier this week to deliver the “bad news.” She said that the computer is beyond economical repair due to tar from cigarette smoke! She said the hard drive is about to fail, the optical drive has failed and it isn’t feasible to repair the computer under the warranty. This computer is less than 2 years old! Only one person in my household smokes – one 21 year old college student. She said that I can get it repaired elsewhere at my expense. I asked why my warranty didn’t cover the repair and was told it’s an OSHA violation.

Smoking Near Apple Computers Creates Biohazard, Voids Warranty


  1. I’m starting to think that apple is just a giant scam company now that Steve Jobs is gone and the innovation has stopped(WARNING: HYPERBOLE). They knowingly bricked hundreds if not thousands of mid-2010 macbook pros with a botched update to lion that basically permanently crippled the device with graphics card kernel errors and simply refuse to take blame and fix it. I know $1200 for a paper weight might not be too outrageous for most apple employees but it was a disaster to me and many others. Of course you cant even find an email address or phone number to talk to Apple unless you shell out $200 for apple care either. The whole thing is disgusting and put me off apple products forever.

    1. It’s not that horrible in general compared to crap people I know were put through Dell and Sony service of their laptops.  But I know, it’s fashionable to hate Apple.  I get it.

      1. Difference being that you can hire outside tech services for Dell and Sony and other Windows devices. Apple won’t certify techs that don’t work for them: my last company has a tech who specializes in Apples who was denied even the most basic specs from them when he requested. Luckily such specifications and tech guides are available…elsewhere. 

    2. The warranty denials for smoking, and your bricking problem both occurred when Jobs was alive.

      1. (and let us not forget the “you‘re holding it wrong” campaign that Jobs was asserting against what most of us foolishly considered a design flaw)

        1. And yet millions and millions of people have absolutely no problem using the phone with the said design flaw.  But sure, pure evil, and only fanboys are in denial to admit that it’s a total piece of crap, right?

          1. I really like Apple hardware and software.   In fact I and my employees make a living from it (the company I own writes Apple application software).    I’ve also owned each version of the iPhone.   All that said, as a left-handed person, I can attest that the iPhone 4 antenna issue personally caused me a lot of grief. 
            (Even closer to home and present day, I can no longer read BoingBoing comments on my iPad1.   The home page loads but Safari crashes when reading individual stories.  I’m pretty confident it is a memory management issue.)

          2. It may be a memory management issue, but there’s no way to tell for sure without doing some, you know, work.
            My experience is that BoingBoing posts with more than around 50 comments will reliably crash an iPad1, and later models have a higher limit. However, it could also be ridiculously memory-hungry code that Disqus serves up to iPads (iPhones don’t seem to have the same issue), or just a quirk of BoingBoing: I can’t recall another Disqus using site that doesn’t chunk its comments into pages.

          3. crashed while posting my previous comment, in fact. Inwas surprised it posted at all. Safari is kind of a miserable excuse forva browser. And, of course, you HAVE TO USE IT on the iPad. that, in a nutshell, is the Grwat Suck of Apple.

          4. “That all use Apple’s rendering engine.”

            By choice.  You mean the open-source Webkit, right?  AFAIK, that’s not forced upon app developers by Apple.

          5. @boingboing-8b886a5c6d6c17b40bcf17f556616561:disqus 

            My experience is that BoingBoing posts with more than around 50 comments will reliably crash an iPad1, and later models have a higher limit.

            Same issue here, well documented in user groups. Only happens when you update iOS. But you can’t roll it back, because Apple.

            I was pretty agnostic before I hit this, but Apple can go fuck themselves now.

            Oh and the exact same issue occurs with Chrome. Its some memory clusterfuck they introduced, and either can’t be bothered or aren’t commercially served by fixing.

          6. Ian, there are third party browsers for iOS.  BB works fine on iPad mini as far as I know.

            I spent two decades on a dozen computers and nearly the same number of Windows operating systems learning all the various ins and outs and alternative software possibilities of that particular environment. The whole point of finally giving up and walking into Apple’s walled garden was the promise of “it just works,” and yet here I am, going through the same tweaking bullshit, only this time on a user-hostile platform that doesn’t want me messing with it.

          7. I have more years of experience in use of computers to not buy into ANY company’s marketing BS.  Yet I find Apple’s products to be appealing (and yes, I use OSX, Linux, and Windows – they are all pretty decent if you know what you are doing).

            If you don’t like the slogan, ignore it and just use the product.

        2. Think Different


          You’re holding it wrong

          (Vinnie Barbarino voice): I’m so confused!

      2. Right. The other reason for them to avoid service is due to cost, since smoke is corrosive on electrical components. In this case parts are failing due to working environmental conditions and not faulty design or materials. Yes it can be both, but it is harder to tell the difference.

    3. “They knowingly bricked hundreds if not thousands of mid-2010 macbook pros with a botched update to lion that basically permanently crippled the device with graphics card kernel errors ”

      What does this even mean? Sounds like you’re confusing OS updates for firmware.

    4. The article Cory is posting about is from 2009, back when Steve Jobs was alive and in charge.

      Does anyone else feel like reposting a 4 year old article about 2 people getting denied customer service is a pretty terrible excuse for journalism? I honestly can’t fathom how this article is suddenly newsworthy again.

  2. The company that solders its intensely-finite batteries to the logic boards of its portable devices also uses warranty shenanigans to get out of its service and replacement obligations?  You don’t say. 

    1. Strange… I’ve changed the battery in a 3GS, and have disassembled a 4S and I can’t remember that the batteries were soldered to the logic board. Granted that the batteries are not easily replaced, by a longshot but they are not soldered.

      1. Is it possible that Stay_Sane_Inside_Insanity is talking about portable devices that are not iPhones?

  3. I bet they also won’t cover it if you poor beer onto it or stuff peanut butter into the optical drive.  If you cause damage to your computer why should the manufacturer be responsible for it?

    1. actually, I do know someone who poured a (very corrosive) drink into a laptop and had it serviced by Apple. if you make enough noise about your Apple Care warrantee, they’ll fix it just to make you go away. 

      1. it’s true. if you just sit there and repeat your complaint calmly like a looped tape, they’ll cave and at least offer you a compromise. the trick is to suppress your technical knowledge and superiority; play dumb and let the “genius” give you exactly what you want.

    2. If you think that tar from cigarette smoke is hurting your hard drive, I’d love to clean the dust out of yours for a small fee…

      This is on the same level as those late night computer speed up commercials. The dust from the cleanest home is far more damaging than even the gnarliest smoker.  Their claim is insultingly ridiculous.

      1. I don’t know if that’s true or not (though I really doubt it), but that’s entirely beside the point. No one should have to deal with it, and kudos to Apple for not forcing their employees to.

        1. It’s probably about as bad as dust, maybe a little worse, but it’s not harmful to anyone’s health when it’s congealed onto a surface.  They should treat it like dust and/or dirt.

      2. Not one for tobacco, but I’ve often smoked some strange around my Windows machines — which is on my desk no more than one foot from my head — and not yet had one throw a disk or malfunction until one would expect an older machine to. 

        Either Apples are significantly weaker than their competitors, and even more overpriced pieces of crap than I think they are or they’re just being dicks. 

    3.  Not at all the same thing.  All hard drives are basically sealed, airtight. Otherwise they wouldn’t function for more than a few minutes.  Smoking around a computer and pouring beer onto it, or stuffing peanut butter in to it are not at all equivalent. 

      1. But back in the 1970’s, the Data Processing Center was the only room in the building where you couldn’t light up. Therefore, smoke is bad for computers.  QED.

      2. No, they aren’t airtight. There’s a hole with a filter on it to balance pressure. It’s typically marked “Do not cover this hole”.

        Otherwise the casing would have to be strong enough not to explode at high altitudes.

  4. With their fans and electrostatic components, computers are effectively air filters without a proper cleanout tray.  If they only reeked of ash trays that would be just fine.  I dislike ash trays (and honestly, smoking in general) but they clean up fairly well.  The combination of heat and static set the tar and particulates on the various internal components of a computer much like a laser printer sets and fuses toner on paper.  I will never again open up a computer that has spent time in the house of someone who smokes.

    1.  I was wondering about that, they specifically mentioned the HD and the optical drive as failing and if they were acting as condensors then they would tend to attract and keep much more tar than otherwise static components, and be affected by it more .

    2. I built my home network out of computers I took from a local recycling bin. I ran into a few that were unbelievably coated with tar inside. The were so sticky and brown that they had been  rendered useless. Until then I had no idea what techs had been complaining about. All surfaces become glue for any dust that passes through. And they stink. Ugly stuff.

  5. Jeez… I mean, just, jeez… I chain smoke, my wife smokes, we have open PCs with wires hanging out of them working 16+ hrs a day doing serious stuff like crunching hd vids and 100 meg 16bit tiffs… and a couple of mangy cats… and never had a problem that couldn’t be fixed with a vacuum cleaner and/or ethanol. But then again, we’re europeans and use PCs.

      1.  Don’t blame your reading comprehension issues on the writer. It may not be formally proper English (which almost nobody uses in real life), but there nothing incoherent about it.

    1. Your first sentence will tell you why you don’t have problems. Open computers do not vent the smoke through the machine like a closed PC or Mac will.
      Imagine blowing smoke directly through a closed tube with some charged elements in it. Now image blowing that same smoke into a large room with the same tube in it.

    2. What Marko says. Except, I doubt the whole “Apple won’t fix it ’cause you smoked near it” premise. I suspect someone is full of shit. I bet it was one ridiculous health-hippie who refused someone, I doubt it’s policy.

  6. As someone who has worked on these machines, this is a very, very rare thing. But yeah, every once in a while, a machine comes in with about a quarter inch layer of tar and nicotine on every inch of the internal components. It’s not a matter of the smell, it’s disgusting and it is a legitimate health hazard. And guess what, it probably caused your computer to break, too.

    So yeah, in very, very rare instances, we’ll deny service on something like this, just like we would for a computer that had been vomited on. But it almost never happens, and it’s not a matter of us trying to steal money from you. Believe it or not, computer technicians are people too, and we deserve to work in sanitary conditions. Myself and everyone I work with actually goes out of our way to cover anything under warranty that we can. Believe me, we don’t make any extra money by putting your device out of warranty or denying service. We just get yelled at and get nasty articles written about us on Consumerist when only one side of the story is told.

    1. It’s also pretty difficult to repair, unless you adopt the optimistic theory that customers who coat their hardware in tar deserve a swap of practically every FRU in the unit.

      Tar+computer dust will terminate more or less any moving part, given time(optical drive usually goes first, floppy does if it exists; but nobody notices, HDD has a filter and may hang on for a while. Fans die roughly in proportion to their size, with the tiny ones(ie. the custom ones in hard to reach places) dying first and the larger 80s and 120s holding out longer).

      Solid state parts are usually somewhat better off, though anything with tight thermal tolerances can discover the hard way that a layer of tarred dust-felt is an insulator.

      The mechanical bits are usually stone dead, swap only, the boards can be amenable to a soak in ethanol(acetone would be better; but eats some plastics commonly found there) and a careful scrub; but that isn’t close to protocol at any warranty repair place.

      (And, of course, Apple being Apple, the odds are even higher that the machine is a laptop, or built like one, with lots of teeny parts and delicate ventilation slots fitted together quite intricately, not your basic whitebox wind-tunnel, which can take a lot of abuse by virtue of sloppy tolerances and general over-ventilation).

      1. Well you see they have to use this toxic chemical normally reserved for use by poorly paid factory workers in China to clean the screens of iThingys… and we can’t possibly subject our employees to toxic chemicals… only our vendors.

        1. Tar doesn’t tend to aerosolise very easily, not without the sorts of heat that would well and truly start melting the plastics you’re cleaning. Try again.


      Believe it or not, computer technicians are people too, and we deserve to work in sanitary conditions.

      Janitors are people too.  Does it follow that they deserve to work in sanitary conditions?  Heck, most janitors probably get paid less than you despite the fact that they don’t get to refuse when someone tells them to clean up vomit.

  7. I’ve never had any issues getting repairs done from Apple, although my wife makes a point to smoke outside (and I don’t smoke at all).  However, the first time I needed a repair it was less than a month after I’d bought a MBP in the US and was in Poland at the time.  The Apple authorized retailer I went to – not even a “real” Apple store – shipped it to Apple at their expense (the mainboard ended up getting replaced).

    Anyway, if we’re going to use a half-dozen incidents as the basis to made broad statements, can I say that smoking seems to wreck computers?

    1. Yeah, we don’t have real Apple stores here. I’m not sure why, it’s very annoying. Retailers are hit and miss, too, some will repair on site, but some send it away to another city and a simple diagnosis can take weeks. I hope we’ll get a real Apple store some day- I’ve had nothing but excellent and speedy service from the official shops while abroad- used up batteries and chargers replaced post-warranty, no questions asked. 

  8. Sheesh…I don’t even smoke, I hate smoking and avoid people who smoke, and yet it’s impossible for my laptop to NEVER have been in the presence of cigarette smoke. This is the most ridiculous policy ever.

    1. RTFA. In no way does it say that any computer that has ever been in the presence of a cigarette is denied service. You’re just being purposefully obtuse if you believe that.

      1. Ah, you’re right. I didn’t click through, but only read what Cory wrote, and was fooled by his outrage.

        No need to be so rude, though. :)


      unless you forged your computer yourself, writing the BIOS in assembly language, etc. you are a PAWN

      I’m pretty sure Cory runs Ubuntu…which is kinda the opposite of that.

    1. Yep. That’s what I was logging in to say. And also, mileage varies. I used to be a moderately heavy smoker, tobacco and marijuana, and my machines never accumulated any crud because I had fans and smoked with the window open. But as a nerdy type, I had lots of friends ask me to put in drives or RAM, and I’ve seen some machines covered in goo from pot and tobacco–from people who smoked the same amount as me, but who just did it with the windows closed. 

      So, I’m not willing to condemn Apple over this practice. A layer of tar will kill a fan, which will kill a lot of other stuff from heat. The same layer can make the HD heat up too much, and it can cover the optics in the optical drive. But also, those same parts wear out from dust, and optics wear out from use (a lot of them are plastic and the laser ages the plastic). I also lived in Iowa, in an area with lots of fossil diatoms, and that stuff would kill a fan so fast–it was like living in a low-intensity sand blasting shop. I went thru, on one machine, a fan a year. Since I moved to the Southeast, I’ve never had to replace one.

      1. A simple air moisturizer (basically a fan suspended over a bucket of water) does wonders both for your lungs and allergies as well as electronics. Since I placed one under my desk I notice markedly less particulates in the air as well as gunk in my electronics. It seems that the claim about water molecules sticking to micro dust and forcing it down to the floor to be vacuumed holds true…

  9. The operative clause is “economical repair”, aka “economically feasible repair”. They calculate the cost of labour and parts and the ability to re-use parts from the replaced systems after reworking them.

  10. As I sit here blowing clouds of vapor at my iMac desktop, chalk up another reason why I’m very happy to have switched to the big metal torpedo electronic cigarette.

  11. This is one of the dumber things you’ve written in a while, Cory.

    Honestly… which is more likely? (A) Apple wants to protect the health of its workers by denying repairs when heavy smoking has ruined a computer, or (B) Apple — which generally provides excellent service through its AppleCare program — just wants to force smokers, and smokers alone, into buying new computers.

    When you troll Apple fans like this, it really undercuts your argument that life is better using free software.

    1.  When you have a total history of two (2) BB comments to your name, it really undercuts your credibility when commenting on Doctorow’s history.

        1. Actually it isn’t.  Had Jake0748 claimed that Patrick Crowley definitely doesn’t have any knowledge of Doctorow’s history because he only has two comments that would be a logical fallacy.  However, Jake0748 is allowed to use whatever criteria he chooses as a gauge for credibility including silly ones like how many comments the guy has.  It may not make much sense but it is not fallacious.

      1. How so?  Could he not have any familiarity with Cory’s writing otherwise?  Or ever have commented under a different Disqus handle, or under the old BB user ID system…?

        I mean, I’ve never commented on an Ann Coulter story, but I’m pretty sure that she’s a trolling POS.  

    2. If you cared about Apple worker safety, you wouldn’t buy Apple products. 

      Google on Foxconn suicide 

      1. You mean the fact that the suicide rates there are lower than in the rest of the country?

        1. You can’t compare the suicide rate of an entire country — including the mentally ill, the infirm, the unemployed, and so on — to a small group of young, healthy, employed people.  It’s meaningless.

          1. Do feel free to provide studies that show that Foxconn workers commit suicide at a higher rate than comparable people.

          2. Why?  You’re the one making claims, not me.  I honestly don’t know how Foxconn’s suicide rate stacks up against similar people. 

            I do know that tons of things affect suicide rates, and any use of statistics without control for them doesn’t carry any weight.

            To use an easy example, men commit suicide at a higher rate than women in most places.  (China’s actually an exception here if memory serves, but never mind that.)  All other things being equal, a group that was 60-40 female to male would have a lower suicide rate than the population as a whole.  It would also mean absolutely nothing.

          3. You’re the one making claims, not me.

            The commenter to whom I originally replied is the one making the unsupported claim. You jumped on the boat.

  12. I’m a cable guy I’ve pulled cable boxes out of people’s houses that have had nearly 1/2 inch of ash and dust on the outside and are just brownish colored inside.  And good God do they reek!!  Wrapped in plastic it stilled smelled my van up like I’d been chain smoking in it. (Once knew a tech who went on a trouble call for “poor picture” and literally all he did was ask for a wet paper towel and wipe the layers of ash and brown dust off her TV screen.) 
    So while I’m sure it’s rare and far between, I have no problem believing excessive cigarette smoke can damage a computer beyond what a warranty might cover.  (Now I’ll agree that they should mention something like that in the owners manual and the warranty somewhere.)

  13. Who smokes inside anymore? I’ve been a chain-smoker for the last twenty years and I don’t even remember the last time I smoked inside.

    Oh no, wait, it was super-bowl Sunday, 2008. My friend let me smoke in his living room because the concept seemed so bizarre that we wanted to remember what it was like.

    1. Six coats of KILZ primer and I still had to sell my mother’s house to a couple of smokers because the living room ceiling was half orange.

      1. Vinegar. No, really. We used up about 8L of the stuff sponging down the walls, but it took out five years’ worth of chain smoker residue from people who never opened the windows. (not an exaggeration, they had permanently-attached blackout blinds on the few windows that didn’t have air conditioners in them).

        Of course that doesn’t work nearly as well with exposed brick… Had to just outlast the brick fireplace.

        1. This was 43 years in one spot.

          I might also mention that my grandparents’ (who didn’t smoke) average age at death was 83; my parents’ (who did, a lot) was 63.

      2. Sounds like my grandparents’ house.  

        At that point, you start to think that perhaps ripping out the drywall and just re-doing it would be better.  

        Was the KILZ water-based or shellac-based?  IMO, the shellac-based is the only one that works for sealing smoke stains.  

        It will make you higher as fuck w/o proper ventilation though – not sure if that’s a bug or feature.

  14. Let’s wait until an Apple technician tries to sue the company for “a tar in the hard drive” related occupational disease and see how they get on.

  15. I’m a former certified Portable and Desktop Apple repair tech. Through the first decade of the 00s I worked at a string of AASPs (Apple Authorized Service Providers) repairing Macs. Sure, it was gross to crack open a smoker’s machine, but we all did it and Apple never made a peep about the brown and yellow sticky parts we’d send back. Brand new parts arrived without complaint. 

    It has been my recent experience that Apple’s own service is much, much worse than that provided by AASPs. I recently took an iMac in to be serviced at the Apple store, to have its hard drive changed under a replacement program. (Drive still works fine but the model was subject to sudden failure) I indicated to them that I wanted the contents of the old hard drive cloned onto the new hard drive so I could go back to work without delay. I was informed that this wasn’t possible. I offered to pay foor the labour or sign something which said I didn’t hold Apple responsible for the data but was again refused. This is the kind of BASIC service that the AASPs I worked for over the years wouldn’t have batted an eye at. I told the “Genius” that the next computer I buy will be one I can open myself, since apparently excellent service is no longer a point of pride for Apple. He shrugged in a way that only goateed blue-shirted “Geniuses” can and would not meet my eye. No more Macs for me, not unless Woz gets into high-up a management position.

    1. It’ll be nice if they did that for you, but if you were competent enough to be a tech, wouldn’t you rather clone the disk yourself?  It’s not that hard.

      1. I made a backup myself… so I did it once I got home. But it takes awhile to copy 800 gigs of data over USB 2 so I would have preferred that they do it for me. As you said, it’s not that hard.

    2. Wait, you are a certified IT Professional and you don’t have a full backup of all the relevant data on your machine?

      1. Please read the thread before posting. The issue isn’t that I lost data (I had a backup, yes) the issue is that official Apple service centres can’t do something as simple as replace a hard drive and copy the old drive’s data to the new drive. They outright REFUSE to do it. To me, that’s them failing to live up to even the most basic standard of service. Coming from Apple, a company that’s supposed to “make computers easy” that’s a bit pathetic. I see several problems with a “we don’t touch data” stance:

        1) Mom, Dad, and Grandma don’t have backups, don’t know how create backups, and just want a new hard drive. Apple is basically saying “Screw you”

        2) I HAVE a backup, and can restore it myself, but why should I have to do it when it’s trivial for it to be done while the machine is being repaired? If such labour isn’t covered by warrantee I’ll pay for it, if it’s a liability issue I’ll sign something. A service centre should be able to handle instructions as simple as “Copy some data from here to here”.

  16. I work in IT and had a few computers come through from staff or faculty that are smokers and I wouldn’t work on them.  The computers had a sticky tar coating on everything inside and out, but mainly inside.  They smelled horrible and was disgusting.  If it was anything like that I would deny it as well.

    1. Windex, paper towels. If you’re a wuss, a painter’s mask. No one’s going to get cancer working on the occasional stinky sticky computer. I worked on plenty of ’em when I was a tech, you didn’t hear me complaining. People’s personal habits may disgust you, but they’re none of your business. Just fix the machine man, don’t be a dick.

      1. Is a warranty meant to clean a computer, or to repair it? Are there other product warranties that involve cleaning?

      2. Call me a dick then I’m not touching it!  In the first place its not my job to repair personal machines, its a favor.  They bring something in tacky all over from cigarette tar that has the fans clogged and dust stuck to the tar and stinks to high heaven I’m just not touching it and wouldn’t blame Apple or any other company for not repairing the mess.  I’d be embarrassed in the first place to take it somewhere if it was mine.  Laptops go along that line, I had some come in with food slopped all over it and the screens all smeared, its disgusting.  Clean your shit before you bring it in.  Inside is another story, but if its cigarette tar I’m not touching the mess.  We stopped doing personal computers so I’m off the hook, but don’t blame the companies for denying it.

        1. All that is fair enough. I guess my point is, like, how far do you go? Do Apple warranties just not apply in Beijing, for instance? Exactly how much particulate matter can you have in your ambient air before it renders your warranty null and void? 
          My opinion is, if you didn’t drop it, smash it, or pour a liquid into it and you’re within warranty you ought to be covered. Smoking is not illegal.

          Techs who act precious about smoky computers will get no respect from me. I did my time, cleaned my share of gross fans, heatsink fins, vent slots… I am alive to tell the tale. As far as I’m concerned, denying warranty coverage due to smokiness is just a business tactic to try and get you to purchase overpriced Apple service parts. 

          1. Why is it okay to pour tar-laden smoke into it but not to pour a liquid into it? You’ve got some politicized cognitive dissonance going on there.

        2. It seems reasonable to me for a repair person to say, “I’d be happy to repair your machine if you just clean it thoroughly and bring it back in.”

  17. When you retail to the general public, a reasonable expectation is that a percentage of your paying customers will be smokers. Unless your warranty specifically and conspicuously contains an exemption for smoke buildup, a reasonable consumer should be able to expect coverage for manufacturing errors and hardware failure without regards to smoke tar buildup.

    A mask, latex gloves, vacuum, compressed air can, and 90% isopropyl alcohol on cotton balls and swabs will allow anyone to clean any electronic device safely and effectively with zero cancer risk. It’s well known and common practice. The question becomes, can it be repaired without cleaning and if not, should Apple be clean it for you.
    If it can be repaired without cleaning, Apple has no standing and should honor the warranty. If it requires cleaning of environmental damage caused by the consumer to effect a repair, then the device owner should clean it themselves.

  18. My first few years in IT practically all I did was support laptops in a corporate job.
    I encountered a lot of gross but cigarette stink was the least of it (if even noticed). 

  19. At my first job, the company accountant chain-smoked all day long. When he left, one of my colleagues was tasked with cleaning his old Mac SE/30. The ‘platinum’ colored casing (Apple’s official name for their particular variety of beige) had turned an even dark brown.

  20. Ive worked on laptops owned by smokers.  You open them up and the board is covered with tar or a sticky dark substance.  You can’t fix it, you have to replace all the internals, or spend 20 hours with alcohol and cleaning swabs.  Notice apple did not ask if they where smokers, they opened the machine and new they where smokers from the machine damage… That is user caused damaged and is rarely covered by any warranty.

  21. As an electronics repair technician, I get it.  I also feel oddly compelled to leave a lengthy comment as to why, so here goes…It’s not a manufacturing defect, so therefore not warranty.  That ends that discussion.  A lot of consumers believe warranty is an insurance policy, but generally warranties only cover defects, not abuse, misuse, physical damage, etc.  Companies often budge a little on this, but that is not the rule. As far as non-warranty repairs, here is what usually happens in my world- The smoke tar/whatever gets EVERYWHERE and leaves nasty residue that causes corrosion and in large amounts can become conductive (aka causes electrical shorts). Every wiring connector, RAM slot and HD platter could also get this fine coating, rendering them useless.  While you might clean one thing, something unrelated will pop up soon after and the customer will blame the tech for “not fixing it right the first time” when it wasn’t apparent/related or a problem when it came in the first time.  This leads to the techs being over-eager to replace components or blocks/modules which becomes an expensive way of keeping screaming customers off their backs.  This usually results in repair bills that are not economical to justify which leads to yelling too, but at least the tech didn’t have to give away free parts/labor AND get yelled at.All of this stems from people just being unreasonable.  If Apple designed their computers to be 100% sealed from environmental damage, they would cost a fortune and nobody would buy them. They don’t, therefore its up to you to take care of your investment and respect your electronics. If you don’t, then be prepared to foot the bill by an outside tech that wants to deal with nasty stinky stuff and probably have repeated issues with whatever you smoke near. Same goes for your internal organs and family. That’s just how it goes.I’m sure Apple just uses the OSHA angle to solidify their stance.  Disclaimer: No I don’t work for Apple. I cant stand Apple. I own exactly 0 Apple products and never will.  I used to smoke and when my stuff would break from me smoking near it, I sucked it up and paid for it cause it was my actions that caused the damage.  Smoking is expensive in so many ways!

    1. I think a large part of the upset isn’t about the damage that is or isn’t user-caused. It’s about the lack of clear, up-front information on this matter. Let’s face it, smoking is probably the most common form of  non-obvious damage consumer electronics are subjected to. You’d think that might merit a separate mention in the AppleCare T&C.

      1. I suppose you’re right, but how far do they need to go?
        I guess I just would appreciate more reasonable people with common sense in the world.  I know…I know. The worst part about this is that I feel gross that I’m actually defending Apple. 

        1. We may disagree about the definition of “common” in this situation :) Most people never even contemplate cracking open their computer case, much less consider the individual internal components and what those may or may not be sensitive to. Hell, 95% of MS Word users never change a single default setting. You think messing about with hardware is “common sense?” I beg to differ.

          I don’t have first-hand experience with smoking, but I suspect that the habit becomes just that — a habit, a series of actions you perform without much conscious thought. Considering what your cigarettes’ smoke may or may not be getting into strikes me as a tad unlikely.

          1. Being a Linux user and hardware hacker/repairer, I admittedly might not be as “in touch” with what the standard median level of technical common sense may be. (There is no way to type that without coming off like a know-it-all jerk).  

            Ok, so now the internet has talked about it, this problem is solved, right? Its now published and therefore common sense.  Dear internet, this is your official notice that cigarette smoke is bad for your electronics.  Now we all know. Please go back to picking on Apple for their numerous other terrible policies.  Thank you  :)


          2. Meh… It seems like common sense to me. If it builds up on your windows, fabric, walls and furniture then it builds up everywhere else. 

            Now that I think of it a tailor might tell you the same thing: I can’t repair this dress because the fabric is too damaged from smoking. It sounds silly but it isn’t. To remove the tar I’d have to destroy the fabric.

            Once you pass the point of washing it with ammonia, you really have to give up on it.

            Perhaps this analogy might work for non-technical people?

  22. While I admit tobacco smoke does in fact leave unsavory deposits on the internal surfaces of computers and electronic devices, this policy seems a lot like a contrivance by Apple to get out of fixing defective merchandise. It’s fashionable to use any pretext to punish smokers, but it’s very poor business to use political correctness to get out of taking care of the customer. By the way, lest any troll interpret my opinion as that of an unrepentant smoker, I haven’t smoked or used tobacco products at all in decades. (Although I AM unrepentant.)

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