Zit Seng's Blog

A Singaporean's technology and lifestyle blog

MacBook Pro Keyboard Broke Again

Although trackpads and mice have become important input devices, they haven’t replaced keyboards. Macs don’t have touchscreens, but even if they did, you’d still need a keyboard to get decent work done. Gamers, programmers, and perhaps anyone who needs to work productively understand the the importance of an excellent keyboard.

Last October, the letter “u” on my MacBook Pro broke. I was really annoyed. I couldn’t work. I got it fixed at QCD, and the repair took more than a week. I was upset. The consolation for me is that the MacBook Pro’s keyboard can’t actually be repaired. They have to change the entire keyboard, including the entire top-case. Furthermore, because the battery is glued to the top-case, they also have to replace the battery. Fixing the letter “u” means I get a brand new battery.

Unfortunately, it didn’t take long before another letter broke. This time it was the letter “n”. The problem this time was trickier. The last problem with the letter “u” was that the key wouldn’t register unless I pressed it with sufficient force, even though the key had been fully depressed.

The letter “n”, however, seemed to have an occasion problem of latency. If I typed slowly, everything would be fine. But if I typed too fast, sometimes the letter “n” registers after the next key has been pressed and registered. I.e. if I typed the letters for “thing”, I might end up with the word “thign”.

I usually type very fast. I also touch type, and, I sometimes type for a bit without even looking at my screen. Hence, this was a really very annoying problem for me. The letter “n” occasionally coming out in the wrong order, even though I’m absolutely sure I had typed correctly, meant I had to watch the screen. I tried for a while to see if I could live with the problem, like, you know, type a bit slower. But it was impossible. I can type slow, but I usually type fast.

This time around, I decided to arrange repair service at the Apple Orchard Store. I wanted to do that the last time but the earliest appointment one can ever get is always like four to five days away. In fact, as I write this now, the Apple Orchard Store has no available slots for booking at all, for the whole week ahead that the reservation system offers for selection.

I was travelling in December, so I timed to put in my reservation while I was away, for a slot immediately when I returned. So on a day in late December, I visited the Apple Orchard Store to experience the Apple service quality first-hand in Singapore.

I was a little disappointed. Despite being armed with an appointment, I waited like 20 minutes to be served. The good thing, however, is that the service crew was genuinely friendly, and a completely reasonable, normal, person. Unlike A.Lab and QCD, the service crew at Apple Orchard Store did not inspect my MacBook Pro with such close scrutiny to reveal defects that could only be seen with strong light reflected off a specific angle. They didn’t insist on conducting superfluous tests, like booting from their own OS disk in case my keyboard defect was caused by my own software problems. They did casually mention the usual terms and conditions and various disclaimers, but not with that sort of terrifying emphasis that A.Lab and QCD do to make you feel you’re indebted to them.

Long story short, apart from having to wait 20 minutes, I was happy at Apple Orchard Store.

Repair would take like three to five business days. However, I received a call two days later from Apple. I was feeling really happy, until I heard that they didn’t call to tell me my MacBook Pro was ready for collection.

The repair was, in fact, done, but they found an internal component missing, which they surmised must have been misplaced during the last repair, which was at QCD. I.e., at my last repair, QCD didn’t put something back into my MacBook Pro. This wasn’t a component that normally gets spoilt, hence they didn’t have stock, and would thus need to order that item. This component doesn’t directly affect functionality of the MacBook Pro, hence it had gone unnoticed, but that notwithstanding, Apple would not return the MacBook Pro to me unless it was perfectly okay.

That component would cost another three days to five days, but I subsequently received notification the following night that my MacBook Pro was ready for collection. All in all, the repair was completed on the fourth day, including the day I brought it in, which despite the unexpected component that needed to be ordered, still managed to be within the original time estimate.

I collected the MacBook Pro the following day. Collection was quick, done in under ten minutes. I’ve a completely new keyboard, a completely new top-case, and, best of all, a brand new battery. I verified the battery status with CoconutBattery. Battery cycle count was 1.

The lesson I always tell everyone. Mac products need AppleCare. Make sure you get it.

The new lesson for me. Never go to QCD. They might not put back everything they took out from your Mac.

In case you’re wondering, no, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with my typing to be breaking keys on my keyboard. In the earlier incident, it is because I don’t press with enough force that sometimes the problem letter doesn’t register, even though the key has been fully depressed. So clearly I don’t type with that much force. I touch-type, not hammer-type. I must be simply really unlucky to be hit with two keyboard defects. Hence, always remember to get AppleCare.

5 thoughts on “MacBook Pro Keyboard Broke Again

    1. It was some sort of cable EMF shielding. I suppose some EMF has been leaking all over the place before this repair…

      1. Glad they were thorough enough to notice something like that! Thanks for the review – will head there next time something breaks.

    1. Yup, I bought two cans of compressed air in the first instance. I would have far preferred to self-resolve the problem then to send in for repair. Didn’t work out unfortunately.

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