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Smoking Apples
November 21, 2009 6:12 AM   Subscribe

...the Apple store called and informed me that due to the computer having been used in a house where there was smoking, that has voided the warranty and they refuse to work on the machine, due to "health risks of second hand smoke".
posted by atomicmedia (210 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Well, I know that Apple refused to fix my friend's computer after someone peed on his keyboard during a party, saying the residual urine/dried urine was an OSHA hazard.

But, I also know that Apple gave me a brand new computer after my cat threw up on my 2.5 year old un-warrentied macbook, not even blinking an eye when I told them it was covered in catpuke. Inconsistency in warranty coverage seems to be Apple's MO.
posted by banannafish at 6:16 AM on November 21, 2009 [9 favorites]


I don't know about the health hazards smoking residue, maybe the soot has anti-particles, but smoking around electronics is a pretty big no-no.
posted by tybeet at 6:17 AM on November 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Unless you're smoking dope, cos that's totally cool with Apple.
posted by twoleftfeet at 6:20 AM on November 21, 2009 [3 favorites]


They certainly weren't afraid of handling a smoker's cash or credit card, were they?
posted by kuujjuarapik at 6:24 AM on November 21, 2009 [56 favorites]


Interesting comment from that Consumerist article:
"My sister smokes & her PC was starting to do strange things, so she dropped the thing off to me. (I don't smoke, and smoke makes me sick)

I opened up the case, and it looked like sticky-poop looking muck all over the PC - on top of the processor heat sink (just under the fan) was a layer of this muck. It's like smoke in a solid form. Canned air would not even dint this muck - a screwdriver was about the only thing to work. It finally started to make me sick that I told her it was fried and she needed a new PC - it was beyond fixable.

I would guess the computers in the story was not this bad, but I can see the point of people not wanted to work on them... I will most likely never work on my sister's computer again."
So, tar can really do a number on the internals of a computer?
posted by ericb at 6:29 AM on November 21, 2009 [11 favorites]


Apropos of nothing, you should really try smoking an apple.
posted by twoleftfeet at 6:29 AM on November 21, 2009 [3 favorites]


The comments on the article pretty much explain how smoking near your computer is a dumb idea if you like having a functional machine. Several repair technicians in the thread have posted about gross brown gooey stuff inside smokers' computers and how it made them sick--even if they smoked. If you are smoking to the point where your fan stops working because it's covered in tar and smoke is swirling around inside your computer, you've voided your warranty, but rather than start an uprising and outright say that smoking near a computer voids its warranty, I suspect Apple is just using the "biohazard" excuse because nobody is certain how much you need to smoke around a computer before it gets funky like that and taking it on a case-by-case basis.
posted by autoclavicle at 6:30 AM on November 21, 2009 [10 favorites]


Huh. I was working there as a specialist at the time. It's possible the inside of the computer was just too disgusting to work on and they said it was a health hazard, but I don't remember this one. I did see some pretty dirty computers though.

You don't want to see the inside of Dirty McGrime's 10-year-old uncleaned trackball mouse.
posted by starman at 6:37 AM on November 21, 2009


I don't know about the health hazards smoking residue, maybe the soot has anti-particles, but smoking around electronics is a pretty big no-no.

I'm pretty sure that cigarette smoke doesn't contain antimatter.
posted by delmoi at 6:38 AM on November 21, 2009 [3 favorites]


Hah. I once bought a used car that had belonged to a smoker. It had a tan Interior, except when I folded the visors down, it was white behind them.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:39 AM on November 21, 2009 [8 favorites]


As far as computer repair goes, alcohol is far more dangerous than tobacco. I've never dropped my laptop on a hard concrete floor while under the influence of tobacco.
posted by twoleftfeet at 6:45 AM on November 21, 2009 [3 favorites]


I used to use Apples. These days, I'd rather buy a PC and spend the difference in price between them on lovely, lovely cigarettes.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:47 AM on November 21, 2009 [25 favorites]


Smoking is a bad idea around computers because the tar particles in the smoke stick to electronics. Then dust sticks to the tar. Then more tar sticks to the dust, and so on. It very gradually makes a rather gooey mess that takes some work to remove. It's also very bad for modern computers, because it screws up their ability to dissipate heat, and modern computers spit out a LOT of heat.

In the mid 90s, I cleaned up a couple of computers that were pretty grossed up that way, and while I've had more fun, I can't imagine calling it a biohazard. Having actually seen this myself, that's very likely to be a complete crock of crap. Yes, it can take a little while to clean it, but it's not difficult, just a bit painstaking, and it's not dangerous.

I've heard about machines with really, REALLY thick layers of tar from being around heavy smokers for long periods, but I've never worked on one. The ones I'd heard about had been exposed for eight or ten years... and only really ancient computers can survive that, because the early ones didn't need fans. I can't imagine that any computer could get that bad in two years.
posted by Malor at 6:52 AM on November 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


I spent some months working in PC repair a few years ago and the "blow out the box" task was usually the most interesting part of the service. After one or two, you quickly learn to take the box outside before turning on the vacuum in reverse. The next thing you learn is to set yourself up downwind. When all that dust and grime blows up in a cloud it can be like the Phoenix desert in a haboob. After several months of doing this, we were actually starting to develop a bit of a sandbox out back from the accumulated filth blown out of numerous PCs. JEEBUS PEOPLE, CLEAN YOUR DANG COMPUTER NOW AND THEN!
posted by netbros at 6:52 AM on November 21, 2009


Back in the day when I was a PC tech (That would be real IBM PCs, kids) and smoking was still common in offices some of the PCs and printers we'd work on would be... nasty. Yellow, gooey, filthy, smelly, and just plain gross. The only thing worse I'd ever seen was a PC that was filled with rat droppings.

So I don't know about "dangers from second hand smoke", but they should certainly have the right to refuse to work on something so disgusting.
posted by bondcliff at 7:00 AM on November 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


FWIW, I didn't buy an extended warranty, and Apple installed, for free, a new graphics card when I was having problems with my MacBook Pro. Later, when my battery died they gave me a new free battery. Sans pee and smoke, they've been fair.
posted by uraniumwilly at 7:03 AM on November 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


The tar from cigarette smoke can negatively affect your computer the same way pet hair can. I bet there's nothing about pet hair in the Apple Warranty either but if you open up the box and it looks like there's a second puss-puss in there, its the owner's fault.
posted by furtive at 7:06 AM on November 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


It's like, on the one hand, I can understand why Apple wouldn't want their techs to have to clean tar out of machines, and on the other, there's something so snotty and douchey about the way they handle the whole thing. This pretty much summarizes my whole take on Apple.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:08 AM on November 21, 2009 [10 favorites]


JEEBUS PEOPLE, CLEAN YOUR DANG COMPUTER NOW AND THEN!

That's a little harsh. Opening the machine is nothing to you, but to the the majority of people (I'm willing to guess), it's on the same lines as opening up, say, the back of the refrigerator or the furnace or the television. Something best left to professionals.
posted by IndigoJones at 7:13 AM on November 21, 2009 [7 favorites]


Yeah, Apple has always seemed to be extremely inconsistent with support in general. I had an LC III running 7.1 that crapped out after about 5 years, and they gave me support over the phone for free. However, I've heard horror stories from friends trying to get help on new equipment around the same time I owned that LC III. They were releasing patches for Apple IIs well past their end of life, but gave up on seemingly viable technology like Quickdraw GX almost from the get go.
posted by crataegus at 7:14 AM on November 21, 2009


However, OSHA also lists calcium carbonate (found in calcium tablets), isopropyl alcohol (used to clean wounds), chlorine (used in swimming pools), hydrogen peroxide (also used to clean wounds), sucrose (a sugar), talc (as in powder), etc... as hazardous substances.

I have no idea how I got so much chlorine into my computer, but Apple refused to fix it! MICRO$OFT 2.0, RIGHT?
posted by battlebison at 7:15 AM on November 21, 2009


Another reason not to buy a Mac. If smoking is that bad a problem on electronics, why we are only just hearing about it? The heaviest smokers I know personally are the Japanese who are also the greatest consumers of electronics. Yet the idea that smoking can void your warranty is news to me.

I don't smoke, but my husband does. I don't know how much second hand smoke is affecting me health-wise, but it has already affected me economically with higher car and home insurance. Also, many people on eBay will refuse to bid on items like books, quilting materials, clothing, and even plants if they come from a home were smoking is allowed. I understand that material can absorb odors, but I think there is also a holier-than-thou attitude promulgated by listings that describe items as coming from a "smoke-free" environment.

This and the post below about BMI being associated with college graduation requirements are troublesome to me. Are we seeing a trend of increased use of economic and social sanctions in order to try and affect behavior? What's next? Are we going to see garages refusing to service cars owned by smokers?
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:21 AM on November 21, 2009 [3 favorites]


Smoking an apple...
posted by ZenMasterThis at 7:25 AM on November 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


A smoker killed my dog.
posted by ryoshu at 7:26 AM on November 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I know the tech cited in the article. I've probably given 100-150 computers to him for repair. Of those some have to have been around smokers. In fact I know some have been. I can think of only one time when they refused to do a warranted repair, and this one was from obvious user abuse (so we ate a way bigger price tag, but they still worked on it).

If this Apple Refuses to Cover Smoker's Warranties was more prevalent, I don't think Consumerist would have any probable coming up with a few more hundred people. But they have what? Two. And no pictures, no paperwork.

I'm guessing these people are being effing babies, otherwise they'd get a lawyer and take them to court, but they know once the case is popped and the judge see the ichor and ooze that they are not going to win.

Where I work we won't even let people put their machines on the floor!

Regardless of reason given, I am betting the tech popped it open, took one look, said, "No way," and I fully support this.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:31 AM on November 21, 2009 [19 favorites]


> one or two, you quickly learn to take the box outside before turning on the vacuum in
> reverse. The next thing you learn is to set yourself up downwind. When all that dust and
> grime blows up in a cloud it can be like the Phoenix desert in a haboob.

The best computer cleaning setup I ever had was when I worked as manager of a university chemical lab. Unlimited filtered, dried compressed air from a wall valve, and a laminar-flow chemical fume hood with a closable class front. (I'm sure the dust and crud didn't do the fume hood any good but there was no actual warning against creating dust storms inside it in the operator's manual and of course the flow was tested regularly by the safety compliance crew.) Place compu in hood on a yard of bench paper, take off case, lower glass hood front door down to a crack just big enough for arms, feed in compressed air line, turn on vent fan, blow.

Once I happened to have brought some cut camelias in to work from my back yard. They were finished before I cut them, getting brown spots, but Conan's black lotus can't have been any more heavily scented. I continued to be able to smell camelia while blowing out two full AT tower case servers in the hood.
posted by jfuller at 7:33 AM on November 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


> Hah. I once bought a used car that had belonged to a smoker. It had a tan Interior, except when I folded the visors down, it was white behind them.

When I was a kid my grandmother - God bless her - once baked us a pie (made out of some sort of boxed mix) that tasted like cigarette smoke, presumably because the box had been marinating in smoke at her house for god knows how long.

In totally unrelated news, neither I nor any of my siblings smoke.
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:39 AM on November 21, 2009 [5 favorites]


AppleCare is a bundled customer support and warranty product. You'll get much better warranties from third parties for the same price.

Dell will cover a laptop from damaged caused by the user, while Apple will void your extended warranty protection for one dent on the exterior. Dell will not explain how to configure your imap, of course.
posted by jeffburdges at 7:48 AM on November 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


An off-license electrician worked on my apartment building resulting in a fried fridge, fried tv (clipped the zip-tie and replaced the fuse), fried surge protector, the brightest for 3 seconds you've ever seen halogen lamp and my computer didn't work.
I took my computer to where I had bought it and played dumb. They said my smoking had resulted in a fried power supply.*

*And replaced it for free.
posted by vapidave at 7:49 AM on November 21, 2009


If your computer has smoker lung, maybe its a sign to cut back a little. Your lungs are probably better at trapping smoke than a heat sink.
posted by 445supermag at 7:51 AM on November 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


I understand that material can absorb odors, but I think there is also a holier-than-thou attitude promulgated by listings that describe items as coming from a "smoke-free" environment.

It's simply good business to advertise things that way. Fabric and clothes that have been around smoke for a long time get really impregnated with it, and I would never choose to buy a quilt or a jacket that smelled that way if I had another option. Health issues totally aside (because I'm pretty dubious about how a stinky quilt could ever make me sick), the aesthetics alone are really powerful motivators.
posted by Forktine at 7:53 AM on November 21, 2009 [3 favorites]


You realize you're getting worked up over a nutrition class and worker and buyer safety?

Anyway, the issue with the nutrition class is not it's a nutrition class, but that if students don't pass it -- success based on a metric (BMI) that is scientifically wonky as shit, for one thing, which you'd think university administrators would be worldly-wise enough to grasp -- they fail to graduate altogether, for reasons that have nothing to do with academics. The issue isn't fat discrimination, it's the misapplication of a policy that makes no damn sense to begin with. Re: "worker safety" in the case of the Apple thing, I understand wanting to kept safe from stuff that's gross and all, but these people are not going to get cancer from handling a smoker's computer. Safety isn't an issue. There are many more unsafe things in the world than essentially touching an ashtray.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:55 AM on November 21, 2009


""My sister smokes & her PC was starting to do strange things, so she dropped the thing off to me..."


I used to smoke in a house with my computer. I had to take it apart twice to clean the fan over the course of a few years. I assure you there was never any tar in the computer.

I no longer smoke in the house with my computer. I still have to take it apart every few years to clean the fan. The fan is now covered with the same bluish-white dust that was there when I smoked in the house.
posted by 517 at 8:15 AM on November 21, 2009 [4 favorites]


Yeah, this doesn't terribly surprise me, unfortunately. My 24" iMac's video card died this summer, resulting in instant kernel panics on boot, so I trundled it off to the Genius Bar where they agreed it was dead, and opened a case for it. I had been having a minor annoyance for the preceding few months where it looked like there was grime and crud behind the glass on my screen, but since I could only see it when the display was a solid color, I wasn't concerned about it enough to have it sent off for a repair until something else needed fixing or my AppleCare was expiring.

On the second day of the service window, I get a call from the repair guys asking if I smoke near my computer. I don't - I haven't smoked in years. Then he asks if maybe I burn incense near the computer maybe? Nope. And I can't imagine the display being nearly that good of a low pressure zone to draw particulate matter anyway. Not like a fan or heatsink. So they manned up and replaced the panel and GPU and got it back to me. But I have noticed a gradual weakening of AppleCare's coverage over the years, and I still probably wouldn't go without it, but it is frustrating. Especially when the alternative is to have them perform service at original market value for the parts instead of whatever depreciated value they actually hold. Ah well.
posted by Kyol at 8:25 AM on November 21, 2009


Wait, wait, wait, this is third-hand smoke, not second hand smoke, since it's not smoke so much as smoke reside.

GET YOUR FACTS RIGHT APP£€!!!
posted by Copronymus at 8:27 AM on November 21, 2009


I'm holier than thou because I don't want to pay good money for an object that absolutely reeks in my home? Fine, then I'm holier than thou. GTFO.

I think were you and I differ, jock@law, is that I either have more empathy or more imagination. You see things in black and white and I see shades of gray. I agree that you should not have to pay money to buy something that reeks of smoke-- as I said above material does absorb odors. However, I've seen things for sale that couldn't possibly reek-- hard metal objects such as jewelry or DVDs in unopened packages or plants-- being marketed as "from a smoke free environment." I think it is a code, a subtle, moral high ground indication, much as places that market themselves as "Christian businesses."
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 8:28 AM on November 21, 2009 [7 favorites]


"Expecting society to cater to the lowest common denominator in personal behavior is very anti-progressive"

Progressives are most easily identified by their tendency to make broad generalizations and their intolerance of the behavior of others that they deem to be "bad".
posted by 517 at 8:30 AM on November 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


Apple's business objective in nearly every case I can think of, is to get you to buy more or its shiny new products. This absolutely drives how they devise their customer service and product warranty strategies.
posted by psmealey at 8:31 AM on November 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Also this:

What's next? Are we going to see garages refusing to service cars owned by smokers?

I sure as hell hope so. You realize you're talking about a serious carcinogen right?


If smoking is truly that dangerous, that merely being in the presence of something owned by a smoker will give you cancer, than we should make smoking illegal. Have you seen any studies showing being aound a smoker's car leads to cancer? Because I, for one, would be interested.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 8:34 AM on November 21, 2009 [3 favorites]


If this Apple Refuses to Cover Smoker's Warranties was more prevalent, I don't think Consumerist would have any probable coming up with a few more hundred people. But they have what? Two. And no pictures, no paperwork.

I had to stop reading Consumerist -- I read one too many stories with very little evidence (but a lot of sensationalist potential and editorializing) seemingly posted without doing any fact-checking. And when people in the their comment section correct their errors, they are slow to edit their posts (if they do at all).
posted by statolith at 8:36 AM on November 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Some of my dads oldest computers are kept together only by the cigarette tar.
posted by Artw at 8:36 AM on November 21, 2009 [7 favorites]


because the early ones didn't need fans. I can't imagine that any computer could get that bad in two years

Agreed, I was decommissioning a trailer used by three very heavy chain smokers. All laptops worked fine except for reeking of smoke. I wonder if the "21 year old college student" wasn't ashing all over the place and that a physical component ended up getting burned.
posted by geoff. at 8:37 AM on November 21, 2009


Never mind cancer, gross stuff can make you uncool!
posted by Artw at 8:37 AM on November 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Cleaning both sides of a gunky, tarry motherboard is a thankless task. Eventually my boss said to me "Screw this, we'll tell the customer it's beyond repair." Which it probably was.
posted by infinitewindow at 8:40 AM on November 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


bondcliff : they should certainly have the right to refuse to work on something so disgusting.

Absolutely! They have every right to choose to fulfill their legal obligation by simply replacing the machine rather than repairing. But voiding the warranty? I can't wait to hear about how hard some judge eventually spanks Apple over this one.


jeffburdges : Dell will cover a laptop from damaged caused by the user

True that. I have to give Dell credit on that one, they have the best warranty service I've ever seen. Something breaks? No questions asked (beyond the basic "do you actually know the difference between a CPU and HDD, before I ship you a new GPU fan" diagnostics), they just do it. And if three things go wrong, they don't dick around with round-after-round-after-round of repairs, they just send you a new one. Only company I will ever voluntarily pay for a warranty extension, because they really do honor it. And no, I don't work for Dell.
posted by pla at 8:41 AM on November 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


However, I've seen things for sale that couldn't possibly reek-- hard metal objects such as jewelry or DVDs in unopened packages or plants--

Depending on how heavy a smoker had them, oh, yes they can. And they'll be covered in a layer of yellow or brown tar if you try to clean them. Plants shouldn't be that bad as they'll grow, but the smell and tar may still be trapped in the leaves and soil for a while. My parents were both heavy smokers and it was horrible.
posted by dilettante at 8:41 AM on November 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


I understand that material can absorb odors, but I think there is also a holier-than-thou attitude promulgated by listings that describe items as coming from a "smoke-free" environment.

No, it's more like a less-disgusting-and-less-likely-to-give-ones-self-cancer attitude. Which is OK by me.
posted by xmutex at 8:43 AM on November 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


> If smoking is that bad a problem on electronics, why we are only just hearing about it?

You never talked to me or any of the other ex-techs chiming in on this thread about it. Count me as one of the people who've seen power supplies and logic boards fried due to thick layers of tar and dust. I swear some people blow their cigarettes directly into their computer, and turn the case around to brush their cats in front of the PSU fans. You've probably never seen a wool-lined computer, but I have.

Aside from that, any experienced tech who works on personal computers has had to deal with equipment that you would never dare touch without gloves, due not just to smoke damage but layers of food, drink spills, and miscellaneous other crap, and if they have an excuse to not work on stuff that smells bad and sticks to the workbench, I'd half forgive them for wanting to use it.

I'd be more inclined to forgive Apple for declining warranty repair if they claimed that the computers were damaged due to misuse, that misuse being exposure to cigarette smoke and the damage caused by the residue.
posted by ardgedee at 8:54 AM on November 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


It truly is the inconsistency in how AppleCare is applied which is going to be the downfall of this otherwise truly excellent warranty service. I've heard of computers from different owners which approximately the same problem at about the same time in their lifespan, both under the extended warranty, one of which was serviced and the other was denied. Equally puzzling is why some computers that die at the 2-year-9-month mark get replaced with a new machine, and others are declared dead and don't receive any work.

Most of the time, there are serious technical reasons why these decisions are made, or at least that's how Apple passes them off. But declaring that being in a tobacco-using household voids the warranty, THAT is something which needs to actually be listed in the warranty terms. And it's no place in my AppleCare warranty booklet, which is pages and pages of really tiny print. I hope these folks realize that and find some way to win recourse.
posted by hippybear at 8:54 AM on November 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Don't blamitthr the Apple. Blamitthr teh smokres.
posted by xorry at 9:03 AM on November 21, 2009 [4 favorites]


Someone should do an exhibit that shows a healthy pink lung next to a black one full of tar, next to a healthy green mother board next to a black one full of tar.

For some reason I see the latter pair being a more effective smoking deterrent.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:04 AM on November 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


The heaviest smokers I know personally are the Japanese who are also the greatest consumers of electronics.

Tell us what your Japanese friends think about smoking around violins and math books while you're it. (Seriously, dude. WTF?)
posted by katillathehun at 9:05 AM on November 21, 2009 [6 favorites]


I understand that material can absorb odors, but I think there is also a holier-than-thou attitude promulgated by listings that describe items as coming from a "smoke-free" environment.

Several people have commented on this now and going back I realize that I didn't communicate very clearly. I should have written SOME listings seem holier-than-thou. Yes. Clothes, furniture, perhaps even books and magazines can reek if they have been around a smoker and are not washed, and if you are sensitive to odors you would want to know that. I have no problem with advertising that fact. Strangely enough, no one advertises their clothing as coming from a pet-free environment yet cat hair is an allergen for me, but I would of course wash the clothes first. Also from time to time I am surprised to see listings of items that are described as coming from a smoke-fee environment which take me by surprise. Glasses or china, for example; I have to assume that you would wash them before using them anyway, so why does the buyer need to advertise they don't smoke in their home?

Deliberately cutting out parts of what I was responding to, in order to make it seem like I was saying something different, is called LYING.

You are pretty quick to accuse someone of LYING aren't you. I quoted the parts that I thought were pertinent in order to save space. So here is the whole thing:

I understand that material can absorb odors, but I think there is also a holier-than-thou attitude promulgated by listings that describe items as coming from a "smoke-free" environment. This and the post below about BMI being associated with college graduation requirements are troublesome to me. Are we seeing a trend of increased use of economic and social sanctions in order to try and affect behavior? What's next? Are we going to see garages refusing to service cars owned by smokers?

I sure as hell hope so.


Since you weren't responding to the garage section of my quote, what is it exactly that you "sure as hell hope so"? The part about increased use of economic and social sanctions? You surely are not agreeing with me that "this and the post below are troublesome."
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 9:06 AM on November 21, 2009


Expecting society to cater to the lowest common denominator in personal behavior is very anti-progressive.

Well, at least it isn't counter-revolutionary.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 9:08 AM on November 21, 2009 [3 favorites]


Tell us what your Japanese friends think about smoking around violins and math books while you're it. (Seriously, dude. WTF?)

I knew this would be problematic for some people. Too close to stereotyping, I guess. The situation is this. I was married for 18 years to someone from Japan which meant that during the '80s and '90s most of my knowledge about electronics came from Japan. Also, when I stayed with people in Japan their homes had walls of electronics in quantities and configurations that I had never seen before. Furthermore, perhaps it was just my husband's circle of family and friends but the homes and restaurants and bars were smoke-filled in ways that I had not experienced in America-- smoke-filled to the point of a gray fog. My point being that lots of electronics plus lots of smoking, yet nary a hint that smoking and electronics do not mix. Maybe nobody ever told me, maybe nobody knew. It seems odd that this has never come up before.

Gaaah. Sorry to leave this very exciting thread which in which I have ruffled some feathers, but I really have to get to the gym. Later.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 9:14 AM on November 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Another reason not to buy a Mac. If smoking is that bad a problem on electronics, why we are only just hearing about it?

Oh, for fucks sake.

Look, I know we all like to bash Apple on Metafilter, but anyone who has opened up a smoker's computer knows why this voids the warranty.

If you really, really need to think this is an Apple-only thing, go to eBay and look at the listings for electronic music and other studio equipment. Sellers make a big deal that the equipment was used in a smoke-free environment.

This is what is otherwise called a non-issue.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:15 AM on November 21, 2009 [6 favorites]


Sorry to leave this very exciting thread which in which I have ruffled some feathers

Ah, got it.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:16 AM on November 21, 2009


Look, I know we all like to bash Apple on Metafilter

That...that doesn't seem to scan with my experience of MetaFilter, but okay.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:17 AM on November 21, 2009 [3 favorites]


It truly is the inconsistency in how AppleCare is applied which is going to be the downfall of this otherwise truly excellent warranty service.

It really comes down to a management and "what genius you get that day" issue. We had some managers that were very generous when it came to service (one literally let a customer walk out the door with a new mouse when they didn't have money on hand -- the customer came back the next day to pay for it) and some that are very, very by the book (One day out of warranty? Too bad. Regular customer that forgot her ID and wants to use a credit card? Too bad.).

If at first you don't succeed in getting the service you want, come back the next day. It can be frustrating, and maybe Apple needs to weigh consistency with their policy of "surprise and delight" a little more. You can't really have both...
posted by starman at 9:19 AM on November 21, 2009


[few comments removed - please take the "fuck you no fuck you" stuff either to metatalk or email, thanks]
posted by jessamyn at 9:20 AM on November 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


First, Apple should list in their warranty information. That would make most of this hubbub moot.

Secondly, I think it's perfectly acceptable (and even laudable) that Apple is taking this stance regarding its employees. The "biohazard" part is ridiculous, but by saying "our employees don't have to clean up disgusting messes created by our customers" it continues to create a company that people want to join.
posted by bpm140 at 9:27 AM on November 21, 2009 [6 favorites]


If the foo shits wear it.
posted by Sailormom at 9:27 AM on November 21, 2009


Not to excuse Apple, because I do think they should repair or replace the machine, but researchers are starting to find out that cigarette smoke residue--not just second-hand smoke--can do things like worsen asthma in children (although presumably the Apple techs aren't children ...)
posted by Fennel B. at 9:28 AM on November 21, 2009


Secret Life of Gravy: Several people have commented on this now and going back I realize that I didn't communicate very clearly. I should have written SOME listings seem holier-than-thou. Yes. Clothes, furniture, perhaps even books and magazines can reek if they have been around a smoker and are not washed, and if you are sensitive to odors you would want to know that. I have no problem with advertising that fact. Strangely enough, no one advertises their clothing as coming from a pet-free environment yet cat hair is an allergen for me, but I would of course wash the clothes first. Also from time to time I am surprised to see listings of items that are described as coming from a smoke-fee environment which take me by surprise. Glasses or china, for example; I have to assume that you would wash them before using them anyway, so why does the buyer need to advertise they don't smoke in their home?


You mentioned DVD cases before, which are soft plastic, and very porous. Porcelain is also porous and can not only be discolored by the cigarettes, it can indeed hold their aroma pretty much forever.

Hard metals are pretty resilient in this respect, but then the use of the object must be considered. A stinky knife will be washed until it doesn't stink, and life will go on. A stinky antique charm, subjected to the same washing, could well lose a significant amount of value by the time it looses the stink. As far as glass goes, this is pretty much the same idea; you can't clean art glass the same way you clean a mug, it cannot be reasonably expected of the purchaser.

Personally, I would say steel and glass durable, non-decorative goods are certainly salvageable if they come from any environment, smoke dander whatever. Though letting people know that they won't have to worry about scrubbing off tar is still not silly.

Anything plastic, anything made from organic materials, anything that can't be scrubbed and scoured, people have a reasonable cause to wonder if it has been coated in gross stinky tar. Sorry if this makes you feel uncomfortable, or makes your eBay stuff sell poorly, but it's true.
posted by paisley henosis at 9:28 AM on November 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


bpm: im not sure they should list cigarette smoke, etc. in their warranty information. lists in contracts are part of what lead to their unreadability. do we really want one more "including but not limited to...." paragraph stretching 2 pages?

a nice catch-all clause about generally taking care of your computer would be just fine, i think. maybe part of the intro video they could have a little talking macface say "Hi! I'm your new Mac! I need air to flow through me to keep me from getting overheated, so you need to try and keep the air clean around me. If I get too much dirty air in me, it could void your warranty." *frown* couple that with a warranty provision requiring the computer to be used with due care and as instructed, etc.
posted by jock@law at 9:33 AM on November 21, 2009


This morning, I learned that the worst people in the world are fat misogynistic orthodox people who chain-smoke indoors while they write Twilight fan fiction on their macbook.
posted by fuq at 9:34 AM on November 21, 2009 [16 favorites]


Clothes, furniture, perhaps even books and magazines can reek if they have been around a smoker and are not washed,

I think your perception of people as "holier-than-though" when they prefer many items to come from a smoke-free home may actually be because you don't smell cigarette smoke when others do. This may be because you've been living with a smoker for a while, or because you're just naturally not very sensitive to it, but let me tell you: washing does not eliminate the smell of cigarette smoke. It really doesn't. I can definitely still smell it on washed clothing.

It can also get into things that you wouldn't necessarily think it would. My college boyfriend's father, a smoker, used to send care packages of prepackaged goodies -- store-bought things like Oreos and crackers. The entire package smelled of stale smoke, and these were things that only spent a couple of days or hours in his house.

For those of us who smell it, it's noxious and pretty much impossible to eliminate.

It's a little unfair to jump to the conclusion that people are showing irrational prejudice, before considering that their perceptions may be very different from yours.
posted by palliser at 9:39 AM on November 21, 2009 [3 favorites]


It has been my experience buying electronics on eBay that any item description including the words "smoke-free environment" is either a) a lie, or b) a sly reference to the vat of maple syrup the item was dunked in prior to auction.

That shit be sticky.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:39 AM on November 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


"holier-than-thou" -- muscle memory glitch there
posted by palliser at 9:39 AM on November 21, 2009


I don't smoke in my house, but I do in my car1. Every so often, I have to clean the haze of tar off of the inside of my windshield. It's difficult to remove. Tar sticks to everything. That's why they call it TAR. I don't blame Apple for not wanting to fix the computer, but it should have been spelled out in the warranty terms.

Smoking sucks, but I've never understood the hate against smokers. I made a dumb mistake when I was 16 when I smoked my first cigarette. I didn't run a multi-billion dollar corporation that made portable death delivery devices and used every dirty trick in the book to get kids like me hooked on smoking them.

1 - My relatively fuel efficient beater that only I ride in
posted by double block and bleed at 9:43 AM on November 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Blazecock Pileon : Look, I know we all like to bash Apple on Metafilter, but anyone who has opened up a smoker's computer knows why this voids the warranty.

My parents smoke heavily, and I know all too well what it does to the insides of computers.

And I still consider it irrelevant to Apple honoring their warranty. Like it or not, a significant portion of adult humans smoke, and they need to deal with that fact.



This is what is otherwise called a non-issue.

I agree - Apple has a warranty that doesn't exclude smokers. They pay, end of story. Except in this case, not really - The story will include wasting time and money on lawyers and court costs before Apple pays out a fraction of what they really should, owners will get a token "$5 off your next Apple purchase" gift certificate, and the lawyers (on both sides) will walk off with hundreds of millions of dollars.

More to the point, as someone who appreciates Apple's designs but finds the company intolerably aloof, this provides a perfect example of why I will never buy an Apple product firsthand. From pocket music-players with easily-scratched screens, to hardwired batteries known to have a finite lifespan, and now to 21% of the US population simply using their machines in their normal home environment, "You have a problem with our perfect products? Impossible, you must have done something wrong, like turning it on rather than placing it delicately on a shrine (sold separately, in a number of designer colors) and kneeling before it five times a day".

Yeah, this involves hate - But it comes from Apple, in their utter disdain for their customers.
posted by pla at 9:45 AM on November 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


pla: you really, honestly, truly believe that warranties should cover situations where the customer intentionally does something that causes damage to the warrantied item?
posted by jock@law at 9:47 AM on November 21, 2009 [4 favorites]


Secret Life of Gravy: "Strangely enough, no one advertises their clothing as coming from a pet-free environment..."

Eh? Sure they do. I've done it myself, when selling things on eBay.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:47 AM on November 21, 2009


"You've been eating meat near it!"
posted by Artw at 9:49 AM on November 21, 2009 [6 favorites]


The "biohazard" part is ridiculous, but by saying "our employees don't have to clean up disgusting messes created by our customers" it continues to create a company that people want to join.

I'm sorry, but if you are an Apple repair technician "cleaning up disgusting messes created by our customers" is your fucking job. Regardless of the stupidity of the costumers, Applecare is a joke of a warranty if it doesn't cover a situation like this.
posted by afu at 9:54 AM on November 21, 2009


This is like complaining that Microsoft tech support won't fix your Windows computer after you install spyware on it. Get real.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:58 AM on November 21, 2009


Another reason not to buy a Mac. If smoking is that bad a problem on electronics, why we are only just hearing about it?

Yeah, one thinly backed post on a Gawker blog (did you see all the shit that Deadspin got into posting anonymous "scoops" last month?) really reinforces my personal decisions.
posted by setanor at 9:59 AM on November 21, 2009


jock@law : you really, honestly, truly believe that warranties should cover situations where the customer intentionally does something that causes damage to the warrantied item?

Absolutely not - I applaud Dell for allowing such damage, but would certainly not expect most warranties to cover intentional damage.

That said, "smoking in the same room as a computer" does not constitute deliberately damaging the computer. It may drastically shorten the computer's lifespan, but deliberate damage? You could say the same thing about owning a cat or merely having a dusty old house (which have the exact same effects on computers, they just don't make the insides nearly so nasty to clean up).
posted by pla at 9:59 AM on November 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


but if you are an Apple repair technician "cleaning up disgusting messes created by our customers" is your fucking job

Fixing computers when the break ≠ Fixing computers when people break them
posted by setanor at 10:00 AM on November 21, 2009 [4 favorites]


GENIUS BAR FAIL
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:00 AM on November 21, 2009


Apple has a warranty that doesn't exclude smokers

(ii) Damage to the Covered Equipment caused by accident, abuse, neglect, misuse (including faulty installation, repair, or maintenance by anyone other than Apple or an Apple Authorized Service Provider), unauthorized modification, extreme environment (including extreme temperature or humidity), extreme physical or electrical stress or interference, fluctuation or surges of electrical power, lightning, static electricity, fire, acts of God or other external causes;

I'm curious: since this language is in both the Applecare and Applecare Premium agreements, what part of "knowingly exposing sensitive electrical equipment to combustion residue" doesn't sound like "neglect" (at a minimum) to you?

The story will include wasting time and money on lawyers and court costs before Apple pays out a fraction of what they really should

We get it, poor persecuted smokers oh noes.

Like it or not, a significant portion of adult humans smoke, and they need to deal with that fact.

Smokers have the freedom to smoke, others have the freedom to make binding contracts.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 10:00 AM on November 21, 2009 [9 favorites]


I bought an expensive large-format camera off eBay a few years ago, and when it arrived it stank of cigarette smoke. Absolutely stank. Years later, it still does. It's disgusting.
posted by unSane at 10:01 AM on November 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


I have the freedom to jump with abandon on any item I wish, be it trampoline, bed mattress or Macbook Air, and Apple just needs to deal with that fact.
posted by setanor at 10:01 AM on November 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


Palliser is right, Secret Life of Gravy. As the wife of an ex-smoker, I can say that I did not smell it, at least not very well, until after he quit. I never liked the smell of smoke, and thought I was sensitive to it. Had no idea how accustomed to it I had become. Now that he does not smoke, I notice all sorts of things reeking of cigarette smoke, and can barely stand being in a restaurant that allows smoking (even in the non-smoking section).

Those listings you're taking as "holier-than-thou" are really just listing from people that are sensitive to smoke in a way that you are not and won't be until you are not around a smoker for a significant amount of time (months, probably).
posted by [insert clever name here] at 10:02 AM on November 21, 2009 [3 favorites]


I bought an expensive large-format camera off eBay a few years ago, and when it arrived it stank of cigarette smoke. Absolutely stank. Years later, it still does. It's disgusting.

When I was like 10 we used to rent NES consoles from the video store (yeah, yeah..) that were completely infused with smoke to the point that classmates the next day at school could tell when I had rented an NES the previous night...
posted by setanor at 10:03 AM on November 21, 2009 [3 favorites]


I'm sorry, but if you are an Apple repair technician "cleaning up disgusting messes created by our customers" is your fucking job.

Yeah and how about those janitors huh. I mean I always barf on the floor just to remind them they're valued employees.

Regardless of the stupidity of the costumers, Applecare is a joke of a warranty if it doesn't cover a situation like this.

It's a "joke of a warranty" that the customer consensually entered into. If they wanted a better warranty (for a value of "better" meaning "covers stupid behavior"), they should have purchased it from Apple or bought some type of applicable insurance from a third party. The unavailability of such insurance in particular instances is a pretty good indicator that the uninsurable behavior is in fact idiotic.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 10:03 AM on November 21, 2009 [5 favorites]


It may drastically shorten the computer's lifespan, but deliberate damage?

Well, I didn't deliberately cause damage when I threw it in the dishwasher either. I guess as long as we decide to be ignorant about the consequences of our actions, then those actions should be fine and we should expect others to shield us from those consequences, huh.
posted by jock@law at 10:08 AM on November 21, 2009 [3 favorites]


...but smoking around electronics is a pretty big no-no.
While I can't dispute that, I'm surprised that it's bad for the electronics, and I've been working on computers for 35 years, although not that much in heavy smoking areas. furtive's picture looks pretty much like the inside of any machine that doesn't live in a clean (as in filtered) room.

The local Apple shop around here won't even hire smokers. It's not enough that they don't smoke at work or in the parking lot- they can't smoke at home.
posted by MtDewd at 10:22 AM on November 21, 2009


I haven't yet seen anyone mention the length of a warranty as a factor. Extended warranties are, what... maybe 3 years max? So if someone is gunking up a computer to failure in 3 years... that be some heavy smoking...

Also one has to read the fine print to see whether the extended offering is a "warranty", a "service plan" or "insurance". The first two are usually restricted to failures in normal use, and won't cover the cat puke failure.

From my service experience, the absolutely grossest device to service are TVs (the ones with picture tubes). These things sit undisturbed (and uncleaned) for years, are on maybe 12 hours a day, have vented cases with many unscreened openings, and the heat and high voltage ensures that alot of air is moved through them, and all the particles are attracted to the chassis and then baked on. Ecch.
posted by Artful Codger at 10:23 AM on November 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


(disclosure: smoker, clean for three years now)

Inspector Gadget, I'd venture to say that no one argues against Apple's right to say that this or that particular machine has been abused. The problem comes in if they begin saying that "being around a smoker ipso facto violates the warranty." If the users' actions in smoking, or keeping shedding pets, or keeping the computer in harsh conditions have a caused a problem, then no, it shouldn't be on Apple's dime. But there's nothing in the contract to allow them some escape clause to say "Oh, faulty capacitor blew? Sealed bearing in drive failed? Too bad. We can detect smoke in this machine, so we don't have to make the financial outlay to fix it."
posted by tyllwin at 10:25 AM on November 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


I sometimes have similar gak inside my computer; however, I neither smoke nor live with a smoker. I just happen to live in NYC in an area with a lot of restaurant exhaust. My windowsills will be grey with soot within 6 hours of opening the windows. I suppose it shouldn't come as a surprise that some of the ick will find its way inside my computer. I would be incredibly pissed off if some smug gitface told me I'd voided my warranty by smoking around the computer, though. Sorry I don't live in a hermetically sealed iBubble, dude.

Incidentally, there are components that can be run though the dishwasher with no ill effects, unless you consider cleanliness an ill effect.
posted by elizardbits at 10:25 AM on November 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


The local Apple shop around here won't even hire smokers. It's not enough that they don't smoke at work or in the parking lot- they can't smoke at home.

Nice. Is that a written policy anywhere? Because fuck that shit.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 10:28 AM on November 21, 2009


Sorry I don't live in a hermetically sealed iBubble, dude.

Again, neatly summarizing exactly my problems with this company. They make some nice stuff, but the attitude. Ugh.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 10:29 AM on November 21, 2009


I have refused to warranty repair things because they were so heavily infested with cockroaches or mice that droppings had corroded away traces on circuit boards. I've refused to repair things that have been dropped, had things dropped on them, subjected to power surges that left their innards a black smoky mess, and that were run over by forklifts. I've refused to warranty repair things that were rabbit punched by an angry employee and submerged in salt water for three weeks. I once had the amusement of watching my boss refuse to warranty a $37,000 crane scale that had spent a few hours under 800 feet of water at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. If you think the things consumers do to electronics are bad, you cannot imagine what awaits you in industry.

That said, I would never, ever be craven enough to whine that my refusal to repair something was over a concern for my health. If you did something to it that broke it that we don't feel is our responsibility, that's what we will tell you. And many times, in non-warranty situations, I have replaced the ratshit covered circuit board, cleaned up the salt deposits, replaced the urine soaked cable assemblies, and returned expensive hardware to service, because that's my fucking job and you don't throw away a $3,000 machine just because it's icky. Maybe if the labor to de-ickify it is worth more than $3,000, but not otherwise.

Refusing to warranty a machine that's full of tar is understandable. Claiming it's because of the health of your technicians is not. And refusing on a prepaid warranty that most people would assume gives a higher level of protection than usual is sketchy at best. I will be asking around about this, and if it's going down as described I will never do business with Apple.

And no, I don't smoke.
posted by localroger at 10:32 AM on November 21, 2009 [6 favorites]


> While I can't dispute that , I'm surprised that it's bad for the electronics.

The biggest issue for computers is that anything airborne that sticks to fans and heatsinks will reduce their ability to cool properly, leading to failures from overheating. Also, buildup of filth on circuitry can corrode connections and create paths for current leakage.

> Incidentally, there are components that can be run though the dishwasher with no ill effects, unless you consider cleanliness an ill effect.

I've successfully cleaned alot of electronics using distilled water, maybe with a little detergent or vinegar. The key is to blow the item dry with compressed air, and then let it sit for a day or two to finish drying completely. If you've cleaned a mechanism this way, it will need to be lubricated and realigned usually.
posted by Artful Codger at 10:33 AM on November 21, 2009


It's like, on the one hand, I can understand why Apple wouldn't want their techs to have to clean tar out of machines, and on the other, there's something so snotty and douchey about the way they handle the whole thing. This pretty much summarizes my whole take on Apple.

Pretty much summarizes my whole take on smokers.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 10:38 AM on November 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


The reason why Apple asks about smoking in terms of some of the failures is it makes diagnosing the problem much easier. When the bad batch of iMac G5 capacitors were failing, we could diagnose the problem by just popping off the back case and looking for the smoke marks. But if the user was a smoker, doing the replacement became much more difficult, and now it is an issue of what caused the caps to fail, the original issue that was covered under warranty, or poor air circulation caused by slow / clogged fans, etc. (granted in most cases a double check against the serial number could also verify if the machine likely had bad caps).

As for Apple's inconsistencies in AppleCare and warranty, they are exploding in terms of numbers of machines sold, numbers of new users, and straining to find experienced Apple technicians who are able to really diagnose the machines properly. If dell were to ramp up their production and double their units sold next year, the number of machines needing to go in for repair, if their system could scale linearly and not suffer from increased manufacturing mistakes due to larger runs of equipment, their is a huge pool of PC / windows oriented repair technicians who they could pickup right away and have them starting working on the increased number of machines that need repair.

For Apple, there isn't another market for them to pull other experienced folks from (be it sysadmins, programmers, software support specialists) since everyone who can make a living being an Apple related support person is already doing so, so all the new bodies they are bringing on board are new to the platform as a whole. And while that isn't as big an issue for hardware since it is still just chips and processes and basic hardware troubleshooting, having people experienced with the platform means they can do a better job and provide a more consistent service.
posted by mrzarquon at 10:43 AM on November 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


jock@law : Well, I didn't deliberately cause damage when I threw it in the dishwasher either.

I just can't argue with that. You win. Throwing a computer in the dishwasher perfectly compares to someone smoking in their own home. In hindsight, I can't even imagine how I could have looked at the situation any differently.
posted by pla at 10:46 AM on November 21, 2009 [5 favorites]


The local Apple shop around here won't even hire smokers.

Many companies refuse to hire smokers often for health insurance reasons.
posted by ericb at 10:47 AM on November 21, 2009


If someone farted around their computer all the time, and it left a thin shit-residue on everything, that while not really toxic or infectious just stank to high heaven, and was difficult to clean, would people still think that it wasn't that big of a deal? Would you mock ebay auctions for having the label "does not smell like shit?" Would you not care if you bought an item and it was from a home of heavy flatulence?

The idea that people have traditionally smoked heavily around electronics and that there would be a talked-about effect from it is silly. Of course Japanese people, apparently prodigious consumers of electronics and cigarettes, would smoke near electronics. Because not smoking would be the exception, and not the rule, right? If a repairman is expecting to see a ton of smoke residue and the ensuing effects because the majority of homes have smokers...
posted by mikeh at 10:48 AM on November 21, 2009


Smoker? Can’t Work Here, More Firms Say.
posted by ericb at 10:49 AM on November 21, 2009


I think this happens in my house just from cat dander. I just cleaned my printer heads and they were coated in little floaty cat hairs and crud. But I have AppleCare, so I got a whole bunch of parts replaced — the fan assembly, the keyboard — when it just blinked off one day and wouldn't boot up.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:51 AM on November 21, 2009


Hah. I once bought a used car that had belonged to a smoker. It had a tan Interior, except when I folded the visors down, it was white behind them.

My brother had that happen with one of his dogs.

No, seriously. My brother smoked, and had a yellow labrador retriever that started life nearly white; he also had a brown labrador that is unrelated to this story. He never really washed his dogs unless they got skunked - just hosed them off when they'd been in the mud. And we figured the white dog had just gotten slightly darker fur as she got older.

Then a family friend shampooed the dogs and it turned out that the yellow lab's fur was much lighter than it had been before.

Although shampoo enough isn't sufficient for extreme exposure. My dad used to smoke lucky strikes like a fiend, often while driving. When he 'quit' (really, just cut down to a few smokes a day that he'd sneak when he thought he could get away with it... "no, i wasn't smoking. the basement just smells like that"), his hair went from dull and yellowed to bright white.
posted by rmd1023 at 10:52 AM on November 21, 2009 [3 favorites]


They make some nice stuff, but the attitude. Ugh.

Yeah, like 98% of people that use Apple products could care fuck all about that, but if you wanna keep riding that horse, it's there for you.
posted by setanor at 10:56 AM on November 21, 2009 [4 favorites]


There was a great episode of some 80s series - The A-Team? Dukes of Hazard? Touched by an Angel? that had a character who was not-really-but-yes-really-Santa-Claus, in a Miracle on 34th street type way. The guy playing Snata had his own bush white beard, which is a plus, but horendous nicotine stains in it. Shudder.
posted by Artw at 10:58 AM on November 21, 2009


Throwing a computer in the dishwasher perfectly compares to someone smoking in their own home.

Yes. It does. If you're equally ignorant about the effect of your actions.
posted by setanor at 10:59 AM on November 21, 2009


I just can't argue with that. You win. Throwing a computer in the dishwasher perfectly compares to someone smoking in their own home. In hindsight, I can't even imagine how I could have looked at the situation any differently.

1) Both fall under "neglect" if done innocently, or under "abuse" if done intentionally.
2) The "own home" language is not relevant here: you don't get to cross a property line and then turn around and stick out your tongue and say "Nah nah nah contract won't be enforced and you pay for my bad behavior pbbbbthhh!"
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 11:04 AM on November 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah, like 98% of people that use Apple products could care fuck all about that, but if you wanna keep riding that horse, it's there for you.

About...what? I'm really curious.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 11:12 AM on November 21, 2009


Anything plastic, anything made from organic materials, anything that can't be scrubbed and scoured, people have a reasonable cause to wonder if it has been coated in gross stinky tar. Sorry if this makes you feel uncomfortable, or makes your eBay stuff sell poorly, but it's true.

Thankfully I don't have to sell stuff on eBay-- it can't be an easy way to make a living-- but you are probably right about it being an uncomfortable topic for me. I always wonder if my hair smells of smoke, but short of telling my husband he can't smoke in his own home, there isn't much I can do about it. Still, I do have to ask: is this a big problem? Does stuff from eBay frequently arrive coated in heavy black tar? Why, if you are so sensitive to smoke, would you take a chance on buying anything used, because I am pretty sure that much like "Christian Business" "smoke-free environment" is not always true; it's really more of a come-on used by professional eBayers.

However, that is just a side issue. The real issue is that smoking around electronics is so bad that of course! I should have known it would void my warranty! except that I honestly didn't know. Maybe we will be seeing more of this in the future-- "Sorry, you smoked around it, so we cannot fix it."


The idea that people have traditionally smoked heavily around electronics and that there would be a talked-about effect from it is silly.


Why is that a silly idea? I would think that if heavy smoking caused problems it would be more noticeable in a place where there are a) lots of electronics and b) heavy smoking. And if these was/is a noticeable problem people would certainly want to take steps to do something about it.

How bad is it? Should I tell my husband, "Forget about smoking in the computer room unless you want to pay for a new computer"?
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 11:12 AM on November 21, 2009


Hmm... old G3 looks about the right size and shape to serve as a replacement furnace filter...
posted by Artw at 11:12 AM on November 21, 2009


About...what? I'm really curious.

There's this running thread that suggests Apple forcibly tranfers some kind of pretentious attitude through their products that neither exists in any institutional way or is in any way necessary or even easy to adopt.

The "attitude" doesn't come from Apple, though a few of their retail hires may try to act out what they think they should after coming from whatever store in the mall they were working at before and wanting to lord it over all of their Williams-Sonoma friends.
posted by setanor at 11:17 AM on November 21, 2009


The "attitude" doesn't come from Apple

Dude, we've all seen their adverts.
posted by Artw at 11:18 AM on November 21, 2009


Dude, we've all seen their adverts.

Dude, have you seen any other adverts? Oh, but Justin Long wears skinny jeans! Fucking snot-nosed hipster!
posted by setanor at 11:20 AM on November 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


How bad is it? Should I tell my husband, "Forget about smoking in the computer room unless you want to pay for a new computer"?

Why not? I never took my laptop into my excessively humid laundry room. I don't eat over my keyboard (anymore). There are lots of things people do that shouldn't be done near a computer. Just because smokers are a common target these days doesn't mean it's all bunk.

I would think that if heavy smoking caused problems it would be more noticeable in a place where there are a) lots of electronics and b) heavy smoking.

I haven't met very many smokers who were willing to admit their habit caused problems with anything, to be honest.
posted by katillathehun at 11:45 AM on November 21, 2009 [3 favorites]


Yeah and how about those janitors huh. I mean I always barf on the floor just to remind them they're valued employees.

If you were a dick and barfed on the floor, then yes, the janitor has to clean it up. That was precisely my point.
posted by afu at 11:49 AM on November 21, 2009


Also -

because I am pretty sure that much like "Christian Business" "smoke-free environment" is not always true; it's really more of a come-on used by professional eBayers.

While this may be true, if I buy something that claims to have come from a smoke-free environment, and it arrives with proof to the contrary, that's grounds for me to return it or report it and leave negative feedback. I don't want something that's been yellowed, reeks of smoke or has that sticky film all over it. Truly professional eBayers aren't going to risk the hit to their selling reputation. Like others have said, you're probably used to your husband's smoke and don't notice the effects as much anymore, but yes. The signs are always there.
posted by katillathehun at 11:52 AM on November 21, 2009


Dude, have you seen any other adverts? Oh, but Justin Long wears skinny jeans! Fucking snot-nosed hipster!

I think the point was that the whole Apple vs. PC flamewar is an invention of ad wizards (going at least as far back as the Jeff Goldblum "beige is bad" ads and the "Think Different" campaign).
posted by Sys Rq at 11:53 AM on November 21, 2009


If you were a dick and barfed on the floor, then yes, the janitor has to clean it up

But if you insisted on continually barfing on the floor not because you were sick, but because, well, fuck, you felt like it and it's a free country, that would likely contravene some school conduct codes and you'd be likely forced to either clean it up yourself or pay to have it cleaned professionally. Probably also sent to the trailer out back with the broken air conditioner and cheap coffee machine with eight years of stale, gelatinous coffee-paste-residue covering the outside.
posted by setanor at 11:53 AM on November 21, 2009


I don't know what to tell you, smokers. Being a smoker is not a legally protected class. People can not hire you if they choose to. They can void your warranties if you smoke around a computer. They can tell you not to smoke in their restaurants. They can up your insurance rates. They can charge you more to live in an apartment, or even refuse to rent to you. Is it unfair?

No, not really. You've made a decision, and they are decided how they want to respond to that decision, as is their right under the law. I don't know what to tell you, but acting like you're an oppressed class and that people who don't respect you as an oppressed class is never, ever going to get you sympathy from non-smokers.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:05 PM on November 21, 2009 [13 favorites]


Throwing a computer in the dishwasher perfectly compares to someone smoking in their own home.

Throwing a computer in a dishwasher is actually recommended for fixing a problem with capacitor leakage on some old macs.
posted by weston at 12:08 PM on November 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


The sympathizers in this thread are well over their 15-minute break.

We've all seen these pictures, and as extreme as they are, it doesn't negate the fact that a lot of people keep their computers in rooms without a lot of airflow (bonus for chain-smoking) without realizing the effects. It's the same ignorance people who take their spyware-ridden crap to a Geek Squad and end up paying $400 for a clean install and no backup and then think they have a right to complain display.

As much as people love to diss on certain companies, I don't think Apple is in the wrong here at all. While I might not have been 110% satisfied, their customer service (phone, website, Genius Bar) has always been helpful to me even when I haven't been sincere.

They knew that "water damage" was actually beer, but they gave me a new one anyway.
posted by june made him a gemini at 12:09 PM on November 21, 2009


No, not really. You've made a decision, and they are decided how they want to respond to that decision, as is their right under the law. I don't know what to tell you, but acting like you're an oppressed class and that people who don't respect you as an oppressed class is never, ever going to get you sympathy from non-smokers.

This seems to be the prevailing attitude here, but I'm willing to bet it'd be a little different if we were talking about people who were told they were too fat to fly or had to buy two seats on an airplane.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 12:11 PM on November 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


The easy solution to all this is to just shoot smokers on sight.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:11 PM on November 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


it'd be a little different if we were talking about people who were told they were too fat to fly or had to buy two seats on an airplane

I'm totally genetically predisposed to smoke, too.
posted by setanor at 12:12 PM on November 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


There's this running thread that suggests Apple forcibly tranfers some kind of pretentious attitude through their products that neither exists in any institutional way or is in any way necessary or even easy to adopt.

Oh, well, yeah, obviously, 98% of their customer base doesn't complain about that. My guess is they generally consider it a feature, not a bug.

The "attitude" doesn't come from Apple

Really? They don't convey an elitist/pretentious attitude? Hell you say.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 12:14 PM on November 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


I might be anti-progressive here or something, but there is way too much vitriol here for a warranty issue. Just everyone chill. No need to get self-righteous about smoking or not smoking. For crying out loud, every just doubt themselves for about 14 seconds then continue.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 12:14 PM on November 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm totally genetically predisposed to smoke, too.

No offense, but is every fat person entitled to get-out-of-jail-free card of being genetically predisposed toward being fat, or are some of them responsible for their own actions?
posted by kittens for breakfast at 12:16 PM on November 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


The easy solution to all this is to just shoot smokers on sight.

Some easier, less melodramatic solutions:

1. Don't smoke around your computer if you expect it to be repaired by someone else
2. Learn how to fix your own computer (it's not that hard)
3. Buy a computer from a company with absolutely no regard for the health and well-being of its employees
4. If you need to smoke around your computer and the warranty policy bothers you, rent your computer or don't buy the warranty extension
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:17 PM on November 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


They don't convey an elitist/pretentious attitude? Hell you say.

I really don't think so. Sorry. I know it's a popular convention, but it's not accurate.
posted by setanor at 12:21 PM on November 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


I really don't think so. Sorry. I know it's a popular convention, but it's not accurate.

It's a little hard to produce a metric for condescension and general douchiness. You either see it or don't, but to me it's quite plain, and my observations accurate. YMMV, clearly.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 12:25 PM on November 21, 2009


The easy solution to all this is to just shoot smokers on sight.
You'd never get a clear shot at me through the haze.
posted by Abiezer at 12:30 PM on November 21, 2009 [12 favorites]


You either see it or don't, but to me it's quite plain, and my observations accurate.

Oh, I don't mean to discount that, sorry if I sounded like I was trying to be definitive. I just think there's kind of a trend now where people cry "pretentious" a little too freely, and I've been taking it out on this thread.

Er. Time for more coffee.
posted by setanor at 12:34 PM on November 21, 2009


Computer tech here, and I used to be a smoker. I'm pretty sensitive to it, you'd be surprised at some of the stuff i owned that I had to get rid of because it was stinky. I ebayed all of it, suckers. And I've tarred up some computers in my day.

I can honestly say that I would NEVER accuse one of my customers of neglect or intentional damage because they smoked near a computer. Because reasonable people don't do that. It reeks of sanctimony. One customer of mine had an ashtray on her desk the size of a hubcap and it was always full. When she wasn't hacking up throat oysters and growling at me in her Ernest Borgnine voice, we came to an agreement that I'd come clean out her computers once every two months to prevent problems.

Cigarette smoke is a revenue opportunity, you fools.

I have had experience with Apple "Geniuses" and their crap warranty (mac mini? More like mac shitty - three logic boards, two RAM replacements, followed by a refusal to cover the machine even though its under a year old because of a dent). I'm of the reasoned opinion based on my own and other people's experience that Apple warranties suck, and that they tend to be assholes about it.

Your mileage may vary, and it usually will, depending on the spot-faced juvenile with the bad breath and the ill-fitting green t-shirt behind the counter.
posted by disclaimer at 12:39 PM on November 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


spot-faced juvenile with the bad breath and the ill-fitting green t-shirt behind the counter

ooh, burn
posted by setanor at 12:41 PM on November 21, 2009


You know what else stains?

Kool-Aid.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 12:51 PM on November 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Some people here get so Puritanical every time smoking or fat people are the topic of conversation. It's like cigs and fat are to the left what sex is to the right.
posted by Mavri at 1:07 PM on November 21, 2009 [10 favorites]


Being a smoker is not a legally protected class. People can not hire you if they choose to.

However, if they do hire you and you then have troubles due to smoking, would the employer be unable to fire you for smoking-related problems because of the Americans with Disabilities Act?

posted by zippy at 1:09 PM on November 21, 2009


True that. I have to give Dell credit on that one, they have the best warranty service I've ever seen.

Dell customer service must have improved a lot since I owned one. My problems started right off the bat. My laptop was stolen from the courier van on its way to me and was never delivered. After many, many calls to Dell speaking to Indians who hardly spoke a word of English that wasn't on their script, they finally agreed to replace the laptop. A week passed and I was still sans computer, so I call them back and they tell me they can't give me a new one until DHL concluded their investigation. Took several more weeks, and they refused to cancel my order or lower the price they charged me, even though the laptop sold for a few hundred less by the time I got it. Screw Dell.

/hugs my Macbook Pro
posted by Thoughtcrime at 1:10 PM on November 21, 2009


ooh, burn

Dude, don't take it personally, they have medication for that. It truly has been my experience that on each of the four trips I've taken to the Genius bar, the tech I've had work with me at the Genius bar on my mac shitty (a) wore green, ill-fitting t-shirts, (b) had bad breath and (c) had acne.

Deal with it.
posted by disclaimer at 1:35 PM on November 21, 2009


Before I quit smoking in the house, I was smoking like a chimney next to my computer. Yea, I had dust. But there was no tar. I haven't the time to read the thread just now (bed time), but all this talk of "tar" is nonsense. Yea, the old crt used to need a regular cleaning. Again, no tar. The only tar is the crap in my lungs (he wheezed).
posted by Goofyy at 1:49 PM on November 21, 2009


They certainly weren't afraid of handling a smoker's cash or credit card, were they?
posted by kuujjuarapik


They also take cash from customers with kids. That doesn't mean if the kid pours his drink on the keyboard they should be required to fix it.

That...that doesn't seem to scan with my experience of MetaFilter, but okay.
posted by kittens for breakfast


Then you should read S L O W E R. Yes, Apple has many fans on metafilter (hi!), but they've also reached the point of popularity/success that any appearance on metafilter is a chance for anyone that has an axe to grind comes out of the woodwork.

Another reason not to buy a Mac.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy


Who gives a fuck. Anyone that starts with that line was never going to buy a mac anyway. I could give you a top ten list of reasons I will never buy or use a Dell again built on actual experience (wasted years) and not the 2 hours you once got on your friends ibook, but I'm not sure what that means to anyone but myself.

Your mileage may vary, and it usually will, depending on the spot-faced juvenile with the bad breath and the ill-fitting green t-shirt behind the counter.
posted by disclaimer


You seem nice. Also, I hope you were using the term "reasoned opinion" ironically.

True that. I have to give Dell credit on that one, they have the best warranty service I've ever seen.

First, as someone else said, that wasn't my experience with Dell.

Second, out of high school I had a really crappy job. I hated it. But the boss always gave out a healthy Christmas bonus. So whenever someone new would ask me how I liked my job, being positive, I'd say 'we get a great Christmas bonus'.

So maybe Dell has improved their service. But I mean, they're just throwing you a bone. because honestly, dude, you're using a fucking Dell.
posted by Dennis Murphy at 1:51 PM on November 21, 2009 [4 favorites]


My late wife was a HEAVY smoker, and my first-gen Intel iMac was unfortunately affected, to the point of where it killed the optical drive (twice) and had coated the backlight of the LCD with a layer of grime.

This was a couple of years ago, but the staff at the Houston Galleria Apple Store replaced both components (ooh new LCD!). I'd thought it was a failing backlight, but they told me when they brought it out that it had been residue from cigarette smoke. I was properly thankful and polite, and made a point of getting the Mac Genius and the tech's names so I could later email the store manager with kudos about the great service I'd gotten even though they weren't required to replace any of the failed components.

I think it really depends on your attitude when you take the system in and whether the store staff are hungover or cranky that day.
posted by mrbill at 1:53 PM on November 21, 2009


The biggest issue for computers is that anything airborne that sticks to fans and heatsinks will reduce their ability to cool properly, leading to failures from overheating. Also, buildup of filth on circuitry can corrode connections and create paths for current leakage.
Now that I think of it, the machines I worked on mostly had filters ahead of the fans. Part of regular PM was to clean the filters. The filters were usually pretty evidently doing their jobs. So I guess companies now are saving money by not putting filters on their machines, and then voiding the warranty if dust somehow got on the innards.
posted by MtDewd at 1:57 PM on November 21, 2009


I did put one of these filter stands on my Mac Mini when I got it to replace the iMac, but well, I guess I can take it off now since there's nobody smoking in this room anymore.
posted by mrbill at 1:59 PM on November 21, 2009


The Register recently had a "Dirty PCs" photo contest. Here are the results.

I've personally experienced (in my career as a sysadmin / tech) a couple of ancient systems with "oh my GOD" levels of grime that still worked fine - until they were cleaned.
posted by mrbill at 2:02 PM on November 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


Those "Dirty PCs" owners must have smoked an awful lot.
posted by MtDewd at 2:06 PM on November 21, 2009


Freedom isn't free.

There's a hefty fuckin' fee.
posted by lazaruslong at 2:07 PM on November 21, 2009


"Intentional damage" in an insurance context seems to imply actions taken with an intention to damage, normally meaning to deliberately break the thing in order to claim on the warranty. I cannot see how smoking around an electronic device could possibly constitute intentional damage to it unless it's something like an air filter. I just don't believe that in the mind of the smoking Mac owner is any intent to harm the Mac.

At worst, this is negligent damage. Comparable to leaving it on a porch on a cloudy morning and returning that night to discover that it had been rained on. A simple failure to think through the consequences. Even as negligent damage, I don't think it reaches the level of, say, driving around with the handbrake of your car engaged; it's not a single drastic oversight, it's a long history of tiny ones.

The "health of employees" thing is frankly stupid. If it's that badly choked with tar, it stinks. If it stinks that much, open it up wearing a mask and gloves. There's nothing inherent in cigarette tar that makes it more dangerous to handle than, say, motor oil or dishwashing fluid; in fact, that people are able to breathe that shit into their lungs on a daily basis and live for upwards of forty years while doing so, tends to speak to its relative innocuousness as an environmental hazard. Apple employees probably open up computers from time to time that have been exposed to actual diseases (for example, a pathology lab computer) without even knowing about it or questioning it.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 2:09 PM on November 21, 2009


The Register recently had a "Dirty PCs" photo contest. Here are the results.

Oh my, oh my. I didn't realize some PCs come with two mice.
posted by ericb at 2:19 PM on November 21, 2009 [4 favorites]


The New York Times article regarding this phenomenon, which is coined with the term "third hand smoke."
posted by cristinacristinacristina at 2:20 PM on November 21, 2009


You know what else stains?

Kool-Aid.


Which is why when Apple refuses warrantee coverage to someone with kool-aid stains on the motherboard, I'll be there to back them up.

Cigarette smoke is a revenue opportunity, you fools.

Only if your customer doesn't expect you to cover problems with the machine for free.

Some people here get so Puritanical every time smoking or fat people are the topic of conversation.

Puritanical? That's an interesting word choice. It seems to imply that smoking is some innocuous activity that the only zealous and fussy religious types object to, rather than an activity which makes the air around the smoker not only unpleasant but also hazardous to everybody else (and maybe other things, as on preview cristina^3 points out).
posted by weston at 2:30 PM on November 21, 2009


I don't know if anyone's mentioned it already because I haven't read every single word of this thread, but even if they have, it's worth repeating: did you catch that out of Consumerist's readership--disproportionately made up of disgruntled consumers--there are two, count 'em *2* people that have had their computers turned down for repair because of excessively grunged-out insides? I'm going to go out on a limb and assume that there are way more Apple customers than that who are 1) smokers and 2) have returned their machines for repair. That's a pretty out-there couple of edge cases. Just because you didn't munge up your machine by smoking, don't you think that there are 2+pack-a-day smokers that might?

Because tar does get all over everything. I used to do house cleaning when I was younger, and spent one fun afternoon cleaning tar off of this woman's kitchen walls and ceiling while she chain-smoked at the kitchen table. It was probably overlooked more when more people smoked, but now that it's been banned from most public places and strongly discouraged, you're no longer assumed to be some sort of hypochondriac weirdo if you think it's gross and don't want to deal with the detritus of someone else's drug habit. I don't blame the Apple staff one bit for finding an excuse to avoid having to clean crap off of a tobacco junkie's machine.
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:33 PM on November 21, 2009 [3 favorites]


I think there is also a holier-than-thou attitude promulgated by listings that describe items as coming from a "smoke-free" environment.

This is absolutely SOP in the secondary market for equipment used in recording studio control rooms, especially mixing desks. No one wants to drop $50k on a used console only to find they have to completely tear it down to get all the crap out of the faders and pots.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 2:38 PM on November 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Halloween Jack I don't blame the Apple staff one bit for finding an excuse to avoid having to clean crap off of a tobacco junkie's machine.

"Finding an excuse" is exactly what I have a problem with. That attitude of casting about for some reason, any reason, to not do the job, so long as it looks and feels like it might sort of be justified; that is what bothers me.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 2:44 PM on November 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


This seems to be the prevailing attitude here, but I'm willing to bet it'd be a little different if we were talking about people who were told they were too fat to fly or had to buy two seats on an airplane.

Yes. I would also feel differently about blacks being forced to use different drinking fountains, while we're comparing smoking to things it is not like.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:06 PM on November 21, 2009 [3 favorites]


kittens for breakfast: "No offense, but is every fat person entitled to get-out-of-jail-free card of being genetically predisposed toward being fat, or are some of them responsible for their own actions?"

Hey, no need to go dragging us fatties into this. For one, fatness has nothing to do with this thread. For two, you're going to hurt your back.
posted by kathrineg at 3:07 PM on November 21, 2009 [14 favorites]


Another data point here. AppleCare has been the best warranty I've ever had. Earlier this month, I got a new MacBook Pro battery, free, for the (perfect condition, and I saved $1000) refurb machine I bought from the Apple Store, because the original wasn't holiding enough of a charge after just under one year.

It took one simple phone call, and it arrived the next day.

The only other repairs I've needed in 19 years of constant Mac use have been done without question or cost.

The best argument of all though is how few repairs have been needed. Every Mac I've ever owned still worked beautifully when me expanding (graphic design) needs outgrew it.
posted by namasaya at 3:15 PM on November 21, 2009


"Unless you're smoking dope, cos that's totally cool with Apple."

correction.

"Unless you're smoking dope, cos that's totally cool with Apple, man."
posted by muppetboy at 3:23 PM on November 21, 2009


"im not sure they should list cigarette smoke, etc. in their warranty information. lists in contracts are part of what lead to their unreadability. do we really want one more "including but not limited to...." paragraph stretching 2 pages?"

jock@law: normally, I agree with you regarding clarity in contracts and EULAs, but the problem in this case seems to be one of expectation. A large number of people don't grok that smoking around electronics qualifies as "neglect" and as a result, it probably bears calling.

Perhaps something to the effect of a clause after "neglect", like "such as exposing to smoke, humidity or static electricity."
posted by bpm140 at 3:23 PM on November 21, 2009


I was smoking like a chimney next to my computer. Yea, I had dust. But there was no tar. I haven't the time to read the thread just now (bed time), but all this talk of "tar" is nonsense.

No. NOT nonsense. I used to do service work. While many computers owned by smokers would be within the range of normal dirtiness, on rare occasion we'd get computers that were absolutely disgusting due to smoke – inside and out, tar (yes, tar) as well as dust.

This was years ago, before pretty much every computer had a fan constantly drawing air over heat sinks (CPUs and graphics cards). Degraded heat sink performance and clogged fans? Totally believable.


As a side note, I've gotten excellent warranty service from Apple, without buying AppleCare. Much better than other computer / consumer electronics companies I've dealt with.
posted by D.C. at 3:32 PM on November 21, 2009


If you're going to smoke near a Mac, for heaven's sake open a Window.

Thank you, I'm here 'til Thursday. Try the veal!
posted by bwg at 3:36 PM on November 21, 2009


What amazes me about this conversation is the sense of entitlement that gets created when someone generally goes above and beyond the call of duty.

If, in the vast majority of cases, Apple decides that smoke isn't relevant to the problem and makes the fix anyway, they aren't saying that smoking no longer counts as neglect. They're going beyond what's required.

But generally going beyond what's required doesn't mean that they are then beholden to clean up your scary, tar-infested computer. It's they're prerogative about when they want to go the extra mile.

Bitching about service people not going completely above and beyond is incredibly tactless in the short term and counter productive in the long-term. When your good will is used as leverage against you, the smart move is to do what's expected and nothing more.
posted by bpm140 at 3:37 PM on November 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


The only other repairs I've needed in 19 years of constant Mac use have been done without question or cost. The best argument of all though is how few repairs have been needed. Every Mac I've ever owned still worked beautifully when me expanding (graphic design) needs outgrew it.

I'm with namasaya on this one. Not counting the Apple IIe/etc in school, I've owned all Apples for 16+ years, and they've outlived more of my friends' PCs than I can even count. It's not stupid to drop $1500 on a machine when you're able to use it for 5+ years, whereas I know plenty of people who are replacing their $600 Dells every 14 months or so when they start sucking or crash or are infested with viruses and god knows what. I know my Mac is just going to WORK. I have a backup PowerBook that's at least 7 years old and still runs fine, just not as fast as my current one...heck, I have a PB 520 from 1995 that'll run if I really felt compelled!

Every single time anything has ever broken (from a wonky power cable that broke 2x on my old PowerBook to the battery on another one that got recalled) has been fixed or replaced quickly and cheerfully by Apple. When I worked at CompUSA back in the dark ages, I remember seeing some of the FILTHY machines people brought in to be fixed...you couldn't have paid me to touch them without bleach. So I'm calling bullshit on these Consumerist stories, I'm willing to bet those computers were light years more disgusting than the users are letting on.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 3:54 PM on November 21, 2009


Pet hair and pet dander will do ten times more damage to a computer than smoke. Tar is nasty, sure. But tar alone doesn't normally kill fans (which kills systems). No, for that you need pet hair. Pet hair is the surest way to kill a computer besides dropping it off the side of a buildings.

All the anti-smoking zealots that aren't anti-pet zealots are hypocrites, simple as that.

And how about food? Have any of you ever opened up your keyboard? Now that's some nasty-ass shit. I mean, tar it at least a uniform consistency and it won't rot. But you eaters, God help you. However bad you think it is, you're nowhere close to the levels of revolting that lie within your keyboard. Your ENTER and SPACE keys alone carry enough bacteria to kill a city. People who eat over their keyboards, they should all have their warranties revoked as well.

So, basically all of you.

If you're going to be idiots about this, can you at least be consistent with your foolishness?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:25 PM on November 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


I've successfully cleaned alot of electronics using distilled water, maybe with a little detergent or vinegar. The key is to blow the item dry with compressed air, and then let it sit for a day or two to finish drying completely.

Should point out here that most air compressors are designed for industrial applications and will shoot out drops of oil and other lubricants and crud, which isn't a good idea to put on circuitry you're trying to clean. If you're going to use a compressor to clean out electronics, you should use a filter. Otherwise, it's probably better to just use canned air.
posted by krinklyfig at 4:36 PM on November 21, 2009


I'm assuming none of the self-righteous folks here drive cars. Because if you do you're spilling much more toxic smoke into the atmosphere than I am with my cigarette.
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:39 PM on November 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


As to the subject at hand, I'm a tech, and I've cleaned out a fair amount of smokers' computers, and I used to smoke, myself. It's not a great idea to gunk up the fans with smoke residue, but it's not the only thing people can do to their environment which can damage it, and it's really only the worst scenarios where you find things like overheating issues due to the fans sticking from smoke residue. Dust where I live will do the same thing, and if you combine it with pet hair, it can be much worse. Of course, smoking in addition to these other factors doesn't help ... Never personally refused to work on a computer because of a smoker, but I haven't blown out all the cases of those machines. But there is a line you don't cross, and sometimes it's hard to define, but just because someone's a tech doesn't mean someone has to do whatever work you put in front of them. That said, they could have replaced it and tried to reclaim parts from the other machine.

I am not sure Apple's setting any sort of policy here about smokers rather than having the random judgment made by a low-level tech, but they can probably clarify their standard as to what's covered under the extended warranty a bit better. You can refuse to work on a machine and still replace it. Apple has generally been very good to their customers in my experience, and their extended warranty is the only one Consumer Reports will recommend, though I admit I haven't bought any Apple products new in many years and haven't had to deal with it personally.
posted by krinklyfig at 4:48 PM on November 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm assuming none of the self-righteous folks here drive cars.

What?

Did this turn into an anti-smoking thread at some point in the last 15 seconds?
posted by setanor at 4:49 PM on November 21, 2009


People who eat over their keyboards, they should all have their warranties revoked as well.

Well, fuck, if I drop a huge slab of pizza on the keyboard and all that cheese gets all tangled up in the keys and drips everywhere, am I going to feel entitled to a warrantied repair?

No, I don't think I will.
posted by setanor at 4:50 PM on November 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


>The easy solution to all this is to just shoot smokers on sight.
ANTON WEBERN DISAPPROVES.

Is it Godwining a thread if you mention someone who initially disliked Nazism, only becoming a 'Patriot' later on?
posted by Minus215Cee at 4:59 PM on November 21, 2009


Maybe I should mention ... I did used to do pick-up warranty work for a subcontractor, not for Apple, however, but for extended warranty coverage for several major brands. I never came across any situation where the warranty would be void due to smoke, and there wasn't any clause about it. For the most part, these warranty companies considered self-inflicted damage to be covered anyway.
posted by krinklyfig at 5:03 PM on November 21, 2009


I'm assuming none of the self-righteous folks here drive cars.

I'm pretty sure this is only relevant if our exhaust pipes vent into our home offices.
posted by palliser at 5:05 PM on November 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure this is only relevant if our exhaust pipes vent into our home offices.

Someone mentioned upthread living in NYC and dealing with residue from exhaust. You get that in a lot of cities. It's worse than cigarette smoke as to how it builds up and gunks up moving parts like fans and exhaust vents, though the smell is not quite as bad. The damage smoke can do is also determined by the humidity. If you live in a humid environment, cigarette smoke and other environmental pollutants collect with the water and are deposited over everything in a way which really makes it stick to any porous object. If it's not as humid the effect is not as bad, but in those environments dust is often a problem.
posted by krinklyfig at 5:10 PM on November 21, 2009


Okay, spelled out: only relevant to the question of how responsible an owner is for damage done to their Apple computer if our exhaust pipes etc.
posted by palliser at 5:27 PM on November 21, 2009


I bought one of the new Macbooks pretty much the moment they came out, and mine came to me from China with, it turned out, a faulty logic board.

Now, I was pretty stunned (not to mention frustrated) that the computer came that way, and then of course since I ordered it online and the nearest Apple store is an hour and a half away and didn't have the configuration I wanted (extra memory), I ended up having to send it back to Apple. I'd spent several hours with tech support on the phone by this time, and dealt with three different customer service reps, including one from engineering who couldn't wait to get his hands on my machine (not a euphemism) because he'd never had one act that way before.

My experience with Macs had always been positive up until all this, so having to wait another week in turnaround time had me pretty well fed up, and I grumbled to the service people about all the downtime I was having and how I was behind on my work already from the hours I'd already spent with them troubleshooting the faulty laptop.

But hey, these things happen and I was going to get a shiny new Macbook once they received my return, and they paid for all the shipping, so I couldn't really complain.

Not even five days passed until I get my new laptop--and it's not a shiny white Macbook, it's an aluminum unibody Macbook Pro. With the extra memory I'd planned to put on my Macbook included. I emailed the customer service folks to see what the deal was and the response was simple: the upgrade was due to the inconvenience, and they hoped they enjoyed my new Macbook Pro.

So I'm pretty gung ho about Apple service right now.
posted by misha at 5:29 PM on November 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


...because nobody is certain how much you need to smoke around a computer before it gets funky like that and taking it on a case-by-case basis.

FWIW, I am a smoker and smoke around my personal machines all the time, and for the internals to get covered in smoke residue my guess would be you'd have to be smoking around it a fucking lot, and I'm talking 5+ years. I crack my laptops open every six months or so to give them a good clean and I've never come away with any tar or anything of the sort, it's just dust and cat hair. Of course, running a wipe over the screen, and seeing all that brown stuff come away, is pretty scary stuff. So that's why I don't do that any more, and that's why I've never seen a website with a professional white background.
posted by turgid dahlia at 5:29 PM on November 21, 2009 [3 favorites]


metafilter - overthinking a plate of smoked beans
posted by pyramid termite at 5:55 PM on November 21, 2009


Apple is not as cool as so many hipsters like to think they are.
posted by caddis at 6:20 PM on November 21, 2009


The easy solution to all this is to just shoot smokers on sight.

or Apple employees, as the case may be.....
posted by caddis at 6:21 PM on November 21, 2009


People who eat over their keyboards, they should all have their warranties revoked as well.

There's a lot of truth to what you say, but you can always replace a keyboard cheaply.

I prefer the old-style IBM-derived keyboards with full stroke keys and tactile response, but I have a bad habit of trashing keyboards, so I scour thrift stores and garage sales or buy the cheap ones. I take care of my computer, but ADD creeps in all over my desk ...
posted by krinklyfig at 6:26 PM on November 21, 2009


People who eat over their keyboards, they should all have their warranties revoked as well.

So called service personnel who bitch about their customers should all be revoked as well. ;)
posted by caddis at 6:42 PM on November 21, 2009


Yeah, anyway, take it from a tech who's an ex-smoker. If you smoke around your computer and the space is well ventilated, not really an issue. If you smoke in a studio apartment with six other OCD people and keep the windows closed all the time, and you have three cats, yeah, it's probably going to cause problems eventually, like in a few years or longer, but in the meantime maybe you should think of opening a window or maybe telling your friends to leave the apartment once in a while. And clean out the case every now and then or hire a tech to do it.

Maybe think of quitting smoking? I never tell my clients that, but I will tell them that smoking in a dusty environment like we live in without ventilation is going to cause the dust to cling to the smoke residue, and it gets pretty nasty and difficult to clean, though it probably won't cause problems for your computer unless you use it regularly while chain smoking in a closed environment.

All of this points to one thing, and that's if your smoking is causing problems for your computer, you have other and potentially much bigger problems than your computer.
posted by krinklyfig at 7:12 PM on November 21, 2009 [4 favorites]


Apple is not as cool as so many hipsters like to think they are.

meh. whatever. i'm not a computer guy. in the last 10 years i have had 4 macs. the first mac happened by chance, a girl i dated, her brother worked at the mac store here in portland, so i got a deal on one. that first one, i have no idea where it is, minneapolis or seattle. last i knew it still worked. the second one was stolen (eat shit, n. mpls scumbags.) the third one (insurance replacement) is in the room of a friends teenage daughter. still works. i have a laptop now. it works awesome. i waste time on the internet and and steal music. i use it for school. i have never had to have any of my computers worked on. that's fucking cool. my old housemate jess, she had a dell and her friend tyler was over monthly to do something to it. never seemed cool to me. but tyler was a good looking guy, so maybe it was cool for jess.
posted by rainperimeter at 7:40 PM on November 21, 2009


I smoked at my computer for many years. Before we moved in together, my dear wife had a cat. When we decided to consolidate, so to speak, we found the levels of performance-impairing crud in our respective machines were pretty comparable.

Moral: If you have a cat, teach it to smoke; the problems will sort themselves out eventually.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:53 PM on November 21, 2009 [4 favorites]


I think humidity plays a huge role in the tar thing…I smoke a lot around my computers, have never had any gunk at all, but I live in a desert. Cats, though, had 3 for a long while, then 2, then sadly just one—all short-hairs, but hair is still the main problem when i clean out my mac pro, that plus dust. Oddly, I have seen gunked up computers here, but only in (non-smoking) offices…what's up with that?
posted by atomicmedia at 8:42 PM on November 21, 2009


My Amiga 1000 never had any hardware failures and still runs, and I smoked alot in the 80's. My C64 still works, too. My 4th gen iPod killed 3 hard drives. I was glad I had AppleCare for that. Any company that would call their service area the "Genius Bar" has an attitude problem.
posted by rfs at 8:58 PM on November 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


or [shoot] Apple employees, as the case may be....

And, finally, we get to what the thread is really about.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:00 PM on November 21, 2009


People who eat over their keyboards, they should all have their warranties revoked as well.

People who eat at their desks at all should be humanely euthanised.
posted by atrazine at 10:50 PM on November 21, 2009


Taking the two-people-is-a-trend Consumerist post on face value:

I live a block and a half from a city highway, so my apartment accumulates grimy gray dust. I live with a cat that sheds profusely. I smoke in the same room as both my, and my boyfriend's laptops. Both of us eat over our keyboards on a regular basis. Terrible, right?

Actually, I saw the inside of my boyfriend's two-year-old ZaReason machine yesterday, and that shit was miraculously pristine. No hair, barely any dust, and definitely no tar.

Maybe it's just that I'm a light smoker, and that I don't smoke at the keyboard. But, given that the technicians can only tell if you smoked based on the residue they find, I am going to guess that the computers in question were trapped in sealed, smoke-filled rooms for months on end—and that they were narsty. I mean, my three-plus-year-old MacBook doesn't have tar residue, and Derek's not-yet-year-old MacBook did?
posted by evidenceofabsence at 11:16 PM on November 21, 2009


An arcade game enthusiast, I recently bought a Sega Astro City arcade cabinet from an arcade in Kagoshima, in southern Japan. Anyone who has been to the "game centers" in smaller cities in Japan probably knows that they take their smoking with their gaming pretty seriously, many places having an ashtray at each machine. When I received it, it was full of tar and dust and reeked of smoke. I just took a wet rag, brush and a vacuum cleaner to it, and even though this particular machine is SIXTEEN YEARS old, and the coin counter indicates right around 80,000 games, it works perfectly. Practically all of it is original equipment, except for the coin sorter and joystick + buttons. The original monitor, power supply, control boards are all still covered in a layer of permanent gunk, but everything works.

When I was cleaning it however, I felt my throat burning and had to take a break every 30 minutes or so. It certainly felt like a health hazard...

And yet I still am not sure I understand the particular decision to refuse repair. Is there a separate commercial warranty for people who will be using the Macs at internet cafes or other public places where they have less control over what other people do around it?
posted by donttouchmymustache at 11:24 PM on November 21, 2009 [3 favorites]


Smoking inside? Stupid. Don't do it.

Computers being around secondhand smoke considered an OSHA hazard? Laughable.
posted by faved at 11:56 PM on November 21, 2009


The most disgusting mess I've ever found inside a computer was brown, fluffy dusty stuff. It was a computer that belonged to a woman that smoked marijuana for medical purposes, but did not smoke cigarettes at all.

It was nasty stuff!
posted by bugmuncher at 12:08 AM on November 22, 2009


If you can't fix food particles inside a keyboard you are a fucking useless "technician" and need to get a different job.
posted by turgid dahlia at 4:09 AM on November 22, 2009


If you can't fix food particles inside a keyboard

If you can't fix dust inside a computer you are a fucking useless "technician" and need to get a different job. Or buy a can of this. Oooh, hard.

And once again, notice how so many of these anecdotes involve cats, yet Apple apparently hasn't gone ballistic against pet owners. Hypocrites.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:16 AM on November 22, 2009


Second-hand cat hair has been found to cause hysteria in anti-Apple smokers.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:19 AM on November 22, 2009



Another reason not to buy a Mac.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy

Dennis Murphy
: Who gives a fuck. Anyone that starts with that line was never going to buy a mac anyway


Au contraire. I have toyed with the idea. My daughter loves her Mac, and I have thought at some point I would like to buy a MacBook, unfortunately I don't think the inflated price is justified.
(and "Who gives a fuck" is unnecessarily rude.)

Some people here get so Puritanical every time smoking or fat people are the topic of conversation.

Puritanical? That's an interesting word choice. It seems to imply that smoking is some innocuous activity that the only zealous and fussy religious types object to, rather than an activity which makes the air around the smoker not only unpleasant but also hazardous to everybody else


There is definitely an whiff of judgment in some of the comments made. The original article was about whether a smoker, smoking in their own home around their their computer voids the warranty through "neglect." There were several posters who were eager to condemn people who smoke around their computers whole-heartedly as "they should have known better." I, for one, questioned whether they should have known better. Is it common knowledge to the average consumer?

It has also been pointed out there are plenty of other ways the inside of a computer can become filthy: dust, pet hair, air pollution, and no one has suggested that pet owners should have their warranties voided. So it comes down to the "scary tar" as one poster put it. Is tar a danger to the techs cleaning it? I haven't seen any evidence to that fact.

So it strikes me that people are quite gleefully condemning smokers to have their warranties-- which they paid for, expecting to be covered-- voided as punishment for their filthy habit.

There are two parts to your assessment of smokers: an activity which makes the air around the smoker not only unpleasant but also hazardous to everybody else. I don't believe the "unpleasant" part is causing this hostility. We all put up with bad odors-- the people who wear musk, the guys who overdo it with Axe spray, our friends who have too many dogs. I cannot stand Avon perfume-- it has some chemical which burns the back of my throat, yet I don't find myself being hostile to little old ladies who wear it-- I wish they wouldn't but I don't judge or condemn them. So the important part of your sentence is: "hazardous to everyone else." Which is why smokers are so marginalized in our society. They can no longer smoke in most buildings, in some outdoor areas and not even in their own cars in some cases. In 60 years we have gone from "I tell all of my patients to smoke Kools!" to "Ack, there is scary tar build up on this computer, I'm afraid to touch it."

People smoke because they find it pleasurable. Some non-smokers find the very act of smoking offensive-- hence the "Puritanical" label.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:29 AM on November 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


I take no issue with Apple honoring or failing to honor their terms of warranty. I don't really care much for Apple's computers. What I find tiresome is the douchey and self-righteous getting-wobbly-in-the-knees 'cause someone smokes around their computer. Sweet effing christ on a bike: when did being a pearl-clutching pansy become hip?
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 6:45 AM on November 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


... when did being a pearl-clutching pansy become hip?

Emperor SnooKloze -- do you realize that the term pansy is considered an epithet ("usually disparaging : a weak or effeminate man or boy; usually disparaging : a male homosexual") by many? If not, you've learned something new. If not, fuck you.
posted by ericb at 1:40 PM on November 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


What the hell is "pearl-clutching"?
posted by turgid dahlia at 2:04 PM on November 22, 2009


It's what you do before you get the vapors and sit down for a spell, to restore your weary constitution.
posted by rokusan at 2:50 PM on November 22, 2009


I think what's required for clarity here is ...

The kind women wear around their necks, turgid dahlia.
posted by palliser at 2:53 PM on November 22, 2009


The neck is nature's tunnel!
posted by turgid dahlia at 2:56 PM on November 22, 2009


(But I get the term now, thanks for the explanation rokusan, and thanks for the clarification palliser :P)
posted by turgid dahlia at 2:57 PM on November 22, 2009


So I guess turning my computer into a bong is right out.
posted by Bageena at 4:11 PM on November 22, 2009


Apparently some of the latest iMacs are having problems with flickering displays.
posted by homunculus at 4:38 PM on November 22, 2009


This scarily reminded me of an old incident where I used to work at an electronic retailer store which happened to be in what was a red light area at the time.
One of the guys on the same shift as me (thank fully I wasn't at the counter at the time, but nearby) had one of the street walkers come into the store and present a "tool of the trade" to him and asked if he can sell her some batteries and put them in for her.
Not that there were really any work health and safety laws at that stage, but that was one very clear case to state he wasn't going to touch it regardless of laws or not.
I think that is a clearer case of not working on something opposed to the evil second hand some residue.
posted by Merlin The Happy Pig at 5:21 PM on November 22, 2009


I'm against smoking, but this is the stupidest thing I've ever heard. What's with the health threat tactics these days? If you smoke near your computer it voids the warranty. If you're overweight your school won't let you graduate. What's next? Maybe stores and restaurants could put cameras in public restrooms, and everyone who doesn't wash their hands should have to pay double on their bills? Actually, that might not be such a bad idea.

I take second hand smoke pretty seriously, but, even if there's a residue on the computer, would that really count as 'second hand smoke'? Or, is it that the computers have taken on the nasty habit, and they start lighting up while they're being worked on?
posted by Mael Oui at 8:56 PM on November 22, 2009


Oh btw, independent Apple certified repair shops will often preform work under AppleCare when Apple Stores will void your extended warranty for unrelated damage. Independent shops often offer numerous other advantages, like smarter staff, better treatment of regulars, etc.
posted by jeffburdges at 9:54 AM on November 23, 2009


Have you seen any studies showing being aound a smoker's car leads to cancer?

Copronymus already linked to the NYTimes article about it. Here's an interview with Wickninoff. That said, the actual danger of third-hand smoke seems debatable.

We can't tell anything without photos, but Apple seems in the wrong here, unless this scenario is specifically detailed in its warranty service.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:41 AM on November 23, 2009


Reiterating, I smoke while using my computers, have for years, and take them apart all the time because I am just a nerd like that. I've never seen any significant buildup of any residue, and I call bullshit on the whole story here. You'd have to do it in an unventilated space and in massive amounts to cause any serious damage to a Macbook, which is a pretty well sealed up little machine other than the vents in the back and the ports on the side.

I also don't own a car, so I'm causing a lot less toxic harm and environmental damage than most of the righteous non-smokers using this thread to bash those of us who smoke, and who drive to work every day. Height. Of. Hypocrisy. Yes, your car exhaust vents into my house. It saturates the atmosphere in my city, unlike cigarette smoke.

Also, Applecare is a huge ripoff. I love Apple computers. I fix them myself.
posted by fourcheesemac at 6:39 PM on November 23, 2009


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