As the title says, the keyboard on my 2007 MacBook still works. That’s more than I can say for my nearly new MacBook Air. As I type this post on my 2007 MacBook, the MacBook Air that I purchased in February 2019 is having it’s keyboard replaced under warranty to address a problem where an extra space is intermittently added between words.
Disappointment is the sensation you experience when reality negatively intersects with your expectations and that is the sensation I am experiencing at this very moment. The reason my expectations were so high that I could be let down over something as apparently minor as a malfunctioning keyboard is because all of my previous experiences with Apple devices have lead me to believe, however falsely, that I could expect the best out of Apple’s hardware and support well into the future.
Within five months of purchasing my new MacBook Air, I began to notice that sometimes an extra space was added while I typed. At first I thought I was somehow typing overzealously and pushing the space bar twice on occasion. So, I forced myself to slow down and focus on my typing. I might not type with perfect accuracy, but by god I know can manage to hit the space bar just once between words. As I slowed down I could see that every now and then an extra space was added just after I pushed the space bar.
As any sane person would do I began to type all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy over and over again to see if I could reproduce the extra spaces. However, I switched to the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog so that I could be sure I was using every letter in the alphabet. Sure enough, I observed extra spaces on some lines. Particularly after I typed the letter “e”. I have probably typed that phrase a hundred times for the sake of proving to myself that the hardware is at fault.
Fortunately for me, Apple had already added the model of MacBook Air that I owned to it’s keyboard repair program to address the ongoing issues with the new butterfly keyboard. Unfortunately for me, the model I own was added to the warranty program after I purchased it, otherwise I might not have purchased it in the first place. I followed the instructions on the warranty program site and set up the earliest appointment I could get, which was several days in the future.
I went to the Apple Store on the appointed day and explained the issue I was having by showing them the many lines of the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog that I had typed before with their random spaces. I agreed to try have the repair technicians remove the keycaps and clean the keyboard, which took a day. Shortly after receiving my laptop I began to notice problems again. So I the computer back again, and set up a time to bring my computer back to have the top cover (with the keyboard) replaced when the part became available.
When the part was available, I returned again to relinquish my computer to the Genius Bar for repair. I even got a work order emailed to me stating that the repair involved replacing the top case, bottom case, and one hour of labor. Two short days later I was notified that my computer was ready to be picked up. I picked up my computer and was informed that instead of replacing the malfunctioning keyboard, the technician only removed the keycaps and cleaned for dust, stating that this appeared to resolve the issue.
I was somewhat frustrated because we had already agreed to move forward with replacing the top case and keyboard after the first attempt to clean the keyboard failed. However, I was prepared to take their word for it that the issue was resolved. It was not.
I returned the same night and requested that the original repairs be completed. In the course of this, an Apple store employee investigated why the repair was not completed per the work order and found that the technician had removed the keycaps and cleaned for dust, per Apple’s warranty repair policy, before moving forward with the replacement to see if cleaning would resolve the issue.
Some people might point out that the repair technician failed to do their job if the issue was not actually resolved. However, I disagree. The repair technician did exactly as they were instructed and this is exactly why my faith in Apple’s hardware and support is now lost. My time was wasted trying to resolve a warranty repair. I had to drive back to the Apple store near me for a fifth time (40 to 60 minutes round trip plus 15 to 30 minutes waiting in the store) to ask them to do the work they agreed to do simply because their policy was to first attempt to not do the work that was agreed to.
I understand taking steps to save money on a costly warranty program. I also appreciate Apple honoring the warranty even if they did make it an enormous hassle. However, would it not be easier to make quality hardware in the first place? My 2007 MacBook that has dutifully soldiered on for one third of my natural life is proof that it is possible to make a keyboard that lasts longer than five months.
On my sixth and hopefully final visit to the Apple Store to have my keyboard repaired I finally received my laptop with the top case and keyboard replaced. The spacebar now works. Unfortunately the feel of the keyboard has completely changed. When I first bought my MacBook Air, I was very selective about the feel of the keyboard. At the time I found the keyboards on similarly priced MacBook Pro’s had keys that felt loose. The MacBook Air’s keyboard had a much tighter and precise feeling when I typed and rested my hands on the keys. The keyboard I received sans-replacement is the same as the MacBook Pro’s keyboard, which I chose not to buy because of the keyboard. To summarize, I am disappointed in the purchase of the machine and the outcome of the repairs.