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Apple agrees to settle $50 million dispute over Butterfly keyboard complaints

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On Monday, Apple agreed to pay $50 million in damages in a class action lawsuit over so-called butterfly keyboards, a component of some MacBook laptops that have left many users seething with frustration over typing glitches.

The butterfly keyboard, a thin model designed to provide greater precision, was not as graceful as the flapping wings of a nectar-seeking creature. Many customers complained that the characters were repeated when pressed or not displayed at all on their screens. Some said the devices had keys that felt sticky and didn’t always respond.

Typing glitches sparked a class action lawsuit filed in 2018 that resulted in a settlement filed Monday night after four years of litigation in the San Jose Division of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. Apple said the agreement is not an admission of guilt.

U.S. District Judge Edward J. Davila still has to approve the proposal, said Simon S. Grill, an attorney for the plaintiffs.

“Plaintiffs are pleased to submit for court approval their $50 million settlement with Apple that will resolve a multi-year MacBook butterfly keyboard litigation,” plaintiff Mr. Grill and Steven A. Schwartz said in a statement. “Macbook buyers nationwide are eligible to participate.”

As a result of the agreement, Apple will soon be able to pay damages to MacBook users who repaired a laptop with a faulty butterfly keyboard between 2015 and 2019. Customers have stated that the company was aware of the defect in these MacBooks; In 2018, Apple offered free repairs to customers with defective keyboards and then discontinued them.

The company offered to pay amounts ranging from $50 to $395 to affected customers.

The lawsuit represents buyers of about 15 million computers, court documents say.

Apple “strongly denies any liability,” court documents say. The company did not respond to a request for comment.

“The proposed settlement of this case is not an admission of guilt or wrongdoing on the part of Apple,” the agreement states.

Anyone in the United States who has received repairs due to keyboard issues for MacBooks purchased from 2015 to 2017, MacBook Pros from 2016 to 2019, and MacBook Airs from 2018 to 2019 may be eligible for a share of the refund. The company will consider customers who received a replacement “top case” which includes a battery, a touch pointing device known as a trackpad, speakers and a keyboard, or a “case” which refers to letter covers. on keyboard.

“All Billing Class members who contact Apple or an Authorized Service Provider and receive a ‘Topcase Replacement’ or ‘Keyboard Replacement’ within four years of the date of purchase of the class computer are eligible to receive a cash payment,” the court filing says. . .

Customers will be divided into one of three groups, depending on the extent of the repairs their devices received at the time.

The first group includes people who received two or more topcase replacements, court documents say. They will be paid a maximum of $395.

The second group – users who received a replacement topcase that did not solve their problems – will receive up to $125. The third group includes people who have replaced the cap, but not the entire topcase. They will be eligible for up to $50.

Apple will contact many customers, but people can also file claims with documentation that the repair was done.

Court documents say consumer plaintiffs intend to file for up to $5,000 in damages each of the settlement amount.

Apple introduced problematic keyboards with the “all-new MacBook” in 2015. Butterfly signified a new switch mechanism that expanded like wings under the keys, as opposed to the more common and thicker scissor-shaped switches. The keyboard was claimed to be “34 percent thinner” and “four times more stable” than the previous scissor model. But it also proved prone to dust trapping and other problems. Customer complaints soon began.

For the next five years, Apple tried to modify the keyboard in updated models before ditching it entirely by 2020, when all of its laptops included a redesigned and well-received keyboard with refurbished scissor switches.

Jesus Jimenez made a report.

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