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Retina MacBook Pro owners plagued by supposed screen coating damage, call on Apple to take action

A small cadre of Retina MacBook Pro owners are calling for Apple to replace or repair their laptops after discovering what appears to be irreparable damage to an antireflective screen coating layer, a problem the group has dubbed "staingate."



Staingate problems manifest in splotches, streaks and other surface anomalies attributed to faults in the antireflective coating applied to a Retina MacBook's display surface. The origin of this "staining" is unknown, though some have speculated a combination of high humidity and over cleaning might be contributing factors.

Judging from pictures posted to Staingate.org and a related Facebook community, both set up to track and compile data from affected users' machines, marring seems to present itself when a screen comes into contact with foreign objects like keyboard keys or a user's fingers. In many instances the "stains" crop up in the periphery, especially in corners and areas one might expect to be frequently touched.

For example, multiple affected MacBooks exhibit streaking near the FaceTime camera, an area often touched — and consequently cleaned — when opening the laptop. More severe cases, like the example pictured above, show damage across the screen's entire viewable area.

It is not yet clear how many MacBooks are suffer from "staingate" issues, but it seems to be limited to recent-generation MacBook Pro with Retina display models, especially those built in 2013.

In an anecdotal report provided to the BBC, one affected user claims Apple put a cap on screen-related AppleCare repairs after replacing his panel two times in as many years. A previous screen replacement lasted only one month before exhibiting the same problems, the person said.

Apple has yet to recognize the problem officially, but reportedly told members of Staingate.org that it is "cosmetic damage and it is not covered by the warranty." Out-of-warranty repairs can come in at a hefty $800 depending on screen size, Staingate.org said.

A Change.org petition was started five months ago in hopes of rallying support to force Apple into action and is currently about 580 participants shy of a 2,500-signature goal. In addition, law firm Whitfield Bryson & Mason reached out to the Staingate Facebook Community to explore the group's legal options.

Apple faced similar pressure from its customers in 2013 over a rash of early-2011 MacBook Pro failures linked to malfunctioning discrete GPUs. After ignoring multiple calls to fix the growing problem, Apple was hit with a class-action lawsuit before initiating a repair extension program in February.