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Monday, November 03, 2008, 08:45 am PT (11:45 am ET)

Apple sued over defective PowerBook memory slots

Apple is facing a new class-action lawsuit that charges the company with failing to fully recognize the scope of a memory slot defect in its PowerBook G4 notebooks, which has left thousands of customers with no choice but to foot hefty repair costs on their own.

New York resident Giorgio Gomelsky filed the 19-page complaint in a Northern California court last week on behalf of himself and all similarly-situated complainants who purchased an Apple PowerBook manufactured with defective memory slots from January 1, 2003 to the present.

Specifically, the suit alleges that the earlier generation Mac notebooks contain a defect that manifests itself when an owner tries to add additional memory to the first or second memory slot available in most PowerBooks, namely the PowerBook G4

"Typically, when the additional memory is added, the PowerBook does not recognize the memory, resulting in slower processing speeds, decreased computer function and other computing problems," the complaint says. "Unfortunately for consumers, because both memory slots are hardwired to the PowerBook's motherboard, consumers who choose to repair the defect can incur costs of more than $500 in parts and labor."

Faced with complaints over the matter, Apple initiated a Memory Slot Repair Extension Program covering 15-inch 1.67 and 1.5GHz PowerBook G4s manufactured between January 2005 and April 2005, which expired on July 24th. The suit alleges, however, that the scope of the problem extended well beyond the range of PowerBooks that the Mac maker agreed to cover as part of the program.

Gomelsky was one of "tens of thousands of people nationwide" that purchased PowerBooks with defective memory slots, and whose notebook's serial numbers fell outside the range of serial numbers provide by Apple, according to the complaint. This has left those customers with "no recourse other than to repair the defective memory slots at their own expense."

Attorneys for Gomelsky are seeking compensatory damages in the form of reimbursement of expenses incurred by their client and other class members who've had to pay out of their own pocket to repair the damaged memory slots. As part of their claim, they charge the Cupertino-based company with a litany of offenses, including violations of the California business code, breach of warranty, negligence and unjust enrichment.

The complaint further alleges that Apple failed to provide adequate notice of the Extended Warranty and didn't contact PowerBook G4 owners to inform them that they may be covered under the warranty before it expired. Since the defect sometimes takes months or years to manifest, customers who've just begun to discover the flaw will be unable to receive reimbursement for repairs now that the Extended Warranty has expired, it adds.

After being denied repairs, Gomelsky reportedly wrote a letter that was mailed to Apple's Cupertino-based offices back in December of 2006. He received a written reply, which again denied his request for a repair. In March of the following year, he wrote another letter to the company, citing online petitions and "the thousands of complaints posted on internet forums by owners of PowerBooks with defective memory slots"

When his second letter went unanswered, Gomelsky lodged a complaint with the Attorney General of California, according to the suit.