So I’ve got a MacBookPro and thus far it has given me no problems. I grew up in a PC household, so I was wary of The Mac and it’s saccharine ease. But it really has been a great little machine thus far – no complaints whatsoever.
That was, until today.
Today a little bit of dirt got lodged underneath the ‘X’ key and it wouldn’t press down. I lifted off the key to see what the problem was. In order to remove the piece of dirt I had to take off the bracket as well (the bracket is the white bit of plastic that allows the key to go up and down).
Then, in my attempt to get the bracket back in place, it broke.
I was annoyed – but not in a panic, I didn’t think it would be difficult to get the bracket replaced. How hard could it be to replace a tiny piece of plastic that doesn’t have any wires or microchips or anything? I figured Apple might charge me some kind of nominal fee for another one – maybe £5 or something. It would certainly be much more than the bracket was worth, but whatever, I just wanted to be able to get back to work.
I called the Apple Store. I explained the problem, and asked if they had any brackets in the store. No, they told me, they don’t have brackets in the store – in fact, they can’t even order one for me, they don’t stock those at all. The only way to fix the key was to replace the entire keyboard.
I asked if they were joking. They assured me they weren’t.
Now, I’m never surprised by any big corporation’s shameless efforts to squeeze cash out of consumers like blood from a stone. Especially when said consumers are at the mercy of said corporation because said corporation has said consumers by the balls, because said corporation manufactures every single component of their products themselves.
But I was surprised that Apple would tell me that I needed to replace the keyboard when they have made such fanfare about their environmental record. As their website proclaims:
Environmental protection is a priority for the conservation of precious natural resources and the continued health of our planet. Apple recognizes its responsibility as a global citizen and is continually striving to reduce the environmental impact of the work we do and the products we create … Reducing the environmental impact of our products starts with the product design phase. Design dictates the quantity of raw materials, type and recylability of materials, energy consumption required for manufacturing and use, and the ease of recycling … Apple continually refines its product design to maximize efficiency while minimizing waste.
Apple cites the energy efficiency of their products, their abandonment of cathode ray tube monitors (which contain several kilos of lead each), and their elimination of certain heavy metals as just a few examples of their environmental responsibility.
But you know what? Any company that claims to have environmentally sound design, and then tells me I need to replace an entire fucking keyboard because one tiny piece of plastic is broken, cannot call themselves green. It’s not just misleading – it’s fucking hypocritical.
My little story has a happy ending, though. A friend advised me to find another computer store that might have a broken Apple keyboard lying around that could just give me a new bracket. I called a licensed Apple reseller, who told me that they had a spare keyboard in the back. I went down to the store, the technician took my computer, and came back literally two minutes later with a new bracket in place. Good as new. I told him he was a genius, thanked him profusely, and asked what the charge was. He said no charge – and sent me off with a handshake and a friendly smile.
The technician’s name was Dan, and he worked at the Apple Square Group on Tottenham Court Rd in London.
To Dan: Thank you. You fucking rock.
To Apple: Fuck you and your greenwashed image.