iMac, smudged screens and Apple’s list of excuses

I am the proud owner of a Mid 2010 27 inch iMac and it has been a good machine ever since I bought it. Despite what anyone may say I found it to be a lot more stable and usable than a PC that I used for years previously. I have had a few problems most have been fixed by Apple under the warranty that came with the machine.

I first noticed greyish smudge marks in the top two corners of the screen after about a year and a half of buying the machine, I thought nothing of them thinking they were just fingerprints from moving the machine around. They were only visible when the machine was switched off and resembled a fan shape with areas of grey disfiguring the top two corners of the LCD display. As they were not causing me any problems in terms of using the computer I quickly forgot about them.

One other major hardware fault I had with the machine was the DVD stopped working, when I say stopped working I am not sure how well it worked in the first place as I never used it that much. I remember one of the few times I did use it, it just died. I eventually booked my machine in to be repaired and was informed I would need a new optical drive. At the time I did mention the grey marks on the screen and the Apple Genius or Doctor (whatever you call them), said the screen might just need cleaning, he made a note about the marks and they would be cleaned and gave neither a reason why they had occurred or any care advice, we shall call this point of failure number one. When the machine was returned the marks were still visible.

My computer was in a room with no printers, very little dust, no Dehumidifiers, I don’t smoke , it was not near a source of water , there was no condensation or any any vapour etc that wouldn’t be found in a normal room. Why I say this will become clear later.

A few months later and coming to the end of my warranty I started to see screen burn at the bottom of my screen where the Mac Os X dock normally sits, I only really noticed it when i moved the dock to the left at first. Eventually the problem got worse and I took the machine into be repaired, I was told I needed a new LCD screen. When I picked up my machine with the new screen I was just handed the computer, I was given no advice on how to clean or care for my new screen. We shall call this point of failure number two.

I hardly touched my machine for a week or so after getting it back and when I did, I noticed the greyish smudge marks developing on the top left hand corner of the screen again. It must have been the second or third time I had used it since the new screen. As you can imagine I was a little concerned by and tried to contact Apple. I had a web chat with someone working in support at Apple, I detailed best I could the greyish smudge marks and their position and their shape like a fan and that it looked like screen burn again to me. I also explained the fact the LCD was still quite new. I was told to book the machine in to be repaired as it was in the 90 days warranty of the repair. We shall call this point of failure number three.

I eventually booked in a convenient time for me to take my machine and wandered down to the local Apple store the visit was beset by bad customer service from the beginning, you can read more about that here.

When I eventually spoke to someone about the problem with the screen on my iMac, the excuses began flowing straight away. The attitude was abrasive and obstructive to say the least, I was asked the following questions:


Apple Guy (AG): “so where is this computer kept? ”

Me (thinking you what? ) : “On a desk in a room”

AG (rather patronisingly ) : “in a desk in a room , right , what kind of room ”

Me: “I keep it in my home office where I work from ”

AG “Is it kept in a room where you cook ? ”

Me: “Nope”

AG: “Do you smoke in that room ? ”

Me: “I don’t smoke”

AG: “Is there water moisture in that room? ”

Me: “No its a home office , no water there”

(At this point I can tell he is going to make some kind of excuse )

AG: “Do you have a laser printer in that room ? ”

Me: “Yes”

AG: “Thats it , it is caused by environmental pollutants given off by Laster printers that get sucked into the machine and mark the screen ”

Me: “Yeah but I didn’t use the printer before it happened ”

AG: (ignoring what i just said) : “It can happen with cooking , smoking , dehumidifiers and printers too ”

Me: “Why didn’t you tell me when i got my new screen ”

AG: “Well we can’t tell you everything , its on the website ”

He didn’t tell me where on the website or which website to consult. I asked him about the failure to advise me of caring for the screen and I got very little response.

It was clear to me that this chap was going to budge and that it was pointless wasting anymore time, I spoke to him about the conduct of his colleagues earlier in the day and we parted company. He just said move the printer out of the room. He also indicated it was a known issue with the top of the screen being effected. Basically he couldn’t care less. I am 100% sure that if I had answered no to having a printer in the room he would have made another excuse and basically indicated it was down to misuse and not an Apple problem.

If it is a known issue why don’t Apple tell their customers what could potentially happen? I am not totally convinced by what Apple say I just think they are fobbing people off.

I have used my investigative skills and done some research into the issue and it is not only me affected by this problem, quelle surprise. There are pages and pages of people complaining on Apple’s very own community forums. The posts date back a few years to a few days old , suggesting that even the newer models are still affected by this problem. If you want to read some of these posts you can do here. I will update this post with as many cases of similar issues i can find.

With the aim of getting to the bottom of this I found the manual to go with my machine on the Apple website (you can read it here). On page 66 of a 80 page manual it sates the following:

“Do not operate your iMac in areas with significant amounts of airborne dust, or smoke from cigarettes, cigars, ashtrays, stoves, or fireplaces, or near an ultrasonic humidifier using unfiltered tap water. Tiny airborne particles produced by smoking, cooking, burning, or using an ultrasonic humidifier with unfiltered water may, in rare instances, enter the ventilation openings of your iMac and, under certain conditions, result in a slight haze on the inside surface of the glass panel that covers the iMac display.”

Points to note about the above passage, firstly it so hidden away no one is reading that, Apple know that and so does everyone else. If this is such a known issue, it should be on the front of the manual clearly stating care instructions. It says “in rare instances”, so this happens rarely , from my research it happens a lot. My own experience says it happens to 100% of the machines I have owned. An important omission from the passage is printers. Yet Apple Guy used that as an excuse to fob me off when all other things mentioned in the paragraph above didn’t fit.

Everyone has a printer in their office whether that be home office or a corporate office, surely Apple are not trying to tell their global customer base they must not have a printer in the same room as their iMac?

A final thing I have noticed since getting my screen fixed is that the computer gets so much hotter than it did before, it was hot before but never this hot where it is too hot to even touch.

The manual states:

“Operating environment Operating your iMac outside these ranges may affect performance:

Operating temperature: 50° to 95° F (10° to 35° C)”

I very crudely measured the amount of heat given off by the iMac itself and that was way above 100° F, that is just the ambient temperature around the machine not the actual temperature of the metal back which is much much higher.

Some things I have read suggest that the heat is the cause of the grey smudges on the screen, other state that they had their screen replaced by Apple whilst the very desperate are resorting to attempting to fix the screen themselves because Apple won’t listen to their complaints.

There is no point me contact Apple support again as they have given me their answer and dragging my machine 20 miles to the nearest Apple Store to be fobbed off again doesn’t sound appealing.

Time to speak to someone in Apple who might care.






2 Responses to “ iMac, smudged screens and Apple’s list of excuses ”

  1. Thank you for documenting that.
    I bought the new 27″ iMac when they came out in 2009 with a three year Apple care package.
    Right after the three years passed, I experienced the black smudge marks and had to bring the computer to a Mac store. There, they “said” that they replaced the screen but I never got a receipt indicating that the work was actually done.
    The reason why I am saying this is that right after the repair, the wireless antenna failed and I had to, once again, drop the computer off for a few days.
    After the antenna was repaired, I got a receipt from Apple stating what has been done and that there is no charge.

    My only problem now is that I would love to upgrade to a newer model but can’t. I don’t trust Apple screens and the gazillion posts/replies show clearly the size and magnitude of the problem with the screen.

    “If” I would get another iMac (and I say “if!”) then Apple would have to give me the three year warranty free of charge. The iMac costs a lot of money as it is and when I pay a premium, I expect premium components.

    This happened a year ago and since then, I bought a Samsung Note 3 instead of a new iPhone and an MSI NG60 instead of a Mac Book.
    I am not unhappy with ether purchases.

    • Ernst,

      Thanks for the reply and its a shame about your machine. I sent an email to the Apple Media team today regarding this issue as well as the rude service I got. I have since had a message left on my answer phone asking me to call the local store. I however have been able to get through the queue on the phone is so long. Point is i love my iMac it makes my job a breeze, I use a Mac Book Pro for work and the software development I do. The company I work for is totally Apple oriented, Apple need to accept this is a known issue and fix it for good.

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