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Summary:

I quit smoking four years ago, but before that, I was a dedicated smoker for a solid decade. Luckily, I never had any Mac trouble that would necessitate a warranty replacement during those 10 years, or I might’ve been out of luck. Apple has denied Applecare […]

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I quit smoking four years ago, but before that, I was a dedicated smoker for a solid decade. Luckily, I never had any Mac trouble that would necessitate a warranty replacement during those 10 years, or I might’ve been out of luck. Apple has denied Applecare warranty service in at least two separate instances due to the effects of secondhand smoke, according to Consumerist.

In both cases, smoke was to blame for repairs not performed, but not because the malfunctions the computers suffered were due to damage related to cigarette smoke. Instead, the fact that the Macs had existed in houses where people smoked had resulted in the machines being labeled health risks, which was grounds for repair personnel to refuse to work on them.

It’s unclear whether or not smoking is specifically covered in the terms of Applecare, but it appears that the grounds upon which service refusals have been made is the classification of nicotine as a hazardous substance on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) list. At least, that’s what one of the people affected heard from Steve Jobs’ office, though she clearly disputes the logic used in that justification:

Dena [from Jobs' office] did advise me that nicotine is on OSHA’s list of hazardous substances and Apple would not require an employee to repair anything deemed hazardous to their health. 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.

Consumerist couldn’t get an Apple representative to make an official statement regarding the company’s policy on Macs used in a smoking environment, but considering the similarity of both responses to the inquiries of the two people affected, Apple repair personnel at least reserve the right to refuse service, even if they don’t always choose to exercise that right.

As a longtime smoker (who never smoked indoors anywhere I lived, mind you), and as someone who’s had to get the cigarette smell out of at least one car before selling it, I can see people objecting to working on a computer that’s been saturated with smoke for an extended period. The smell isn’t pretty, and it might feel like the machine might be hazardous to your health — feel being the key word.

I’m no scientist, but I’m assuming it isn’t like the Apple techs cracked the case and a puff of smoke shot out. Is there really a significant danger associated with the inert remnants of what smoke leaves behind? I remain highly skeptical. Anyone else ever run into this excuse for refusing an otherwise valid Applecare repair?

  1. It’s not just about that, but have you seem MacBook’s insides after people have smoked around it for a year or two? It’s disgusting.

    Apple have the right to refuse service because they don’t want their employees in danger.

    I reckon it’s a good call.

    I had a repair done a few weeks ago but on the genius bar i heard a technician saying to the guy he refused repair because someone had obviously urinated on it.

    Same thing stands.

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  2. Look at the pictures on this page for an example of what the inside of a smoker’s computer may look like:

    http://www.squidoo.com/cigarette-smoke-computer-damage

    Second had smoke can actually kill a computer.

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    1. The only problem is, I’ve seen MANY computers that look just like that when they’re in a non-smoking environment. While everyday dust may be gray in color, rather than the brownish color in the pictures, the effect is the same.

      There’s no doubt you’re doing your computer no good by smoking around it (the monitor is probably the first thing to be affected), I find this absolutely ridiculous that the manufacturer of a computer would refuse warranty repairs based on this.

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    2. Cigarette smoke contains tar, which in combination with dust makes things worse for the electronic circuits. However, they should mention smoking in warranty because now Apple can, seems like, refuse repair at their discretion. Not very nice if you are a customer (smoker or non smoker).

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  3. I just hope this rule doesn’t apply when user’s smoke whitecloudecigoutlet.com.

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  4. So they selectively refuse to repair machines, based on one substance on OSHA’s list but not many others, and you people defend this? If Apple is going to deny rapairs on machines used by smokers it should make that clear at point of sale.

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  5. I’ve worked at a PC repair shop before, and used to take smoker’s PCs out back with an air compressor for at least 15 minutes before I could work on it.

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  6. One of the most stupid (or unprofessional) things I’ve ever heard.
    Computer is build of so many toxic materials that tar or nicotine is too healthy :)
    They just wanna avoid ensurance and save (read: steal) some money.
    What’s next? If you chat online with someone who is registrated smoker or HIV positive you will be rejected too?

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    1. i agree 100% with apple, or any store that refuses to fix a smokers computer thats still under warranty.

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  7. The real magic happens AFTER the repair when you test the machine for further issues. The fans push out more smoke than you might think. The air is quickly filled with smoke and the cleanliness of any other repairs is jeopardized.

    The genius team is there to fix your mac. They deserve clean air just like everyone else within 25 feet of the apple store. :)

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  8. I don’t know if there’s a danger or not, but having been on the technician side of dealing with a laptop from a chain smoker, I can tell you that the stench is overpowering.

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  9. Given that the dangers of second hand smoking has not even been proven, this seems more than far fetched.

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    1. The World Health Organization disagrees
      http://www.who.int/tobacco/research/secondhand_smoke/en/index.html

      I tend to side with the international foundation dedicated to health issues.

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  10. i thought the only excuse they had for not repairing your machine was that you spilled water !

    now they have another one !! You are a smoker !

    i can easily say that during my +10 years experience with computers/laptops, apple has the worse customer support !

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