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Thursday, October 12, 2006, 09:05 am PT (12:05 pm ET)

Apple MacBook owners organizing class action lawsuit

Owners of Apple Computer's new 13-inch MacBook notebooks, whose systems are plagued by intermittent shutdown issues, have become fed up with extended repair times and inadequate resolutions to the problem, and are now organizing a class action lawsuit against the Mac maker.

The issue, which users have dubbed "RSS," or Random Shutdown Syndrome, has been well documented on Apple's discussion boards and other forums around the web. During ordinary use, affected MacBooks will randomly shut down, effectively rendering the systems unreliable.

Users have reported shutdown intervals anywhere from once a week to several times a day. Sometimes, one random shutdown will occur within minutes of the previous one, making the notebooks completely unusable.

Compounding frustrations is Apple's inability so far to completely remedy the issue for most users after holding their faulty systems at repair depots for lengthy periods of time.

While Apple has publicly acknowledged the ongoing issue — asking affected users to contact AppleCare for support — its repair process has caused many users to lose access to systems for exhaustive periods of time. While some affected users in the U.S. have been fortunate enough to have their repaired MacBooks returned to them within a week, those in other regions have been left waiting weeks, and sometimes months, for their systems to be repaired.

Making matters worse, are widespread reports that Apple's initial solution to the RSS problem — to replace the MacBook's processor heat sink — does not completely eliminate the random shutdowns. As a result, many affected users have been forced to request a second or third round of repairs, leaving some without access to a computer for even longer periods of time.

AppleDefects, a website which has been following the RSS issue closely, recently noted that certain electrical wires inside the MacBooks have a tendency to melt to the surface of the heat sink, causing the systems to short circuit and shutdown.

MacBook


"Essentially the heatsink can expand during use, and comes into contact with the lead from the [thermometer's] sensor cable," reads a more detailed explanation posted at Ogrady's Power Page. "A short circuit results, and the SMC (System Management Controller) pulls the plug. Once the system cools down, the heatsink [recedes] and the contact is broken."

Unfortunately, several users who've had their MacBook's heat sink replaced by Apple are reporting that RSS problem quickly resurfaces. AppleCare has told some of these users that their systems will require a new logic board that is under "development" with an unknown release date.

"My son purchased a MacBook on August 8, which soon began exhibiting the random shutdown problem," said one AppleInsider reader. "He sent it into the service provider (in Canada), who has told him that they have 8 MacBooks waiting for new logic boards as a result of this problem. They told him that one customer has been waiting for 2 months."

MacBook that suffered from the dreaded RSS

Inside a MacBook that has suffered from the dreaded Random Shutdown Syndrome


Over at MacBookRandomShutDown.com, a site completely dedicated to the MacBook RSS problem, users fed up with the back-and-forth repair process have begun to orchestrate a class action lawsuit against Apple with the help of ClassAction.com, demanding the company issue an official recall of the systems.

"We have received reports of Apple MacBook logic boards failing repeatedly, with long periods of down time," reads a statement on the class action website, followed by a sumbission form. "If you own a MacBook laptop and have experienced this problem we would like to know about it."

The RSS problem is not the first issue to plague Apple's 13-inch MacBook notebooks, which have coincidentally become the Cupertino, Calif-based company's top selling PC. Earlier this year, several white-colored MacBook owners were experiencing premature discoloration of their notebook casings.

The discoloration issue was eventually traced back to a bad batch of plastic enclosures, which Apple began repairing under extended warranty.