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?