Apple Tells Smokers to Go Away

apple-cigIt has recently come to light that Apple is denying some smokers coverage under their AppleCare plans. At least two people have gone on record with copies of emails showing that they were denied service on their Apple computers, solely because they were smokers.

In both cases, Apple cited OSHA standards, claiming that cigarette smoke (and residue) are “health hazards”. Therefore, they refuse to force technicians to work on the machines – even though they are technically covered. Furthermore, Apple claims in both instances that the smoke/tar damage on the inside of the machines voids the Apple warranty. However, there is nothing in the warranty about cigarettes – nor their effects on a machine – whatsoever.

I am appalled by this, to be quite frank. Yes, cigarette smoke can cause dust and grime to collect on the inside of a computer. However, if it is not specifically stated in the Apple warranty that this type of damage will void said warranty – how can they possibly use that excuse? If they want to push this issue, they need to get their team of lawyers to change the wording of the warranty – and fast.

Another tidbit for thought: the cigarette smoke/residue appears on the OSHA list of hazardous substances. Okay… I get that. That is what led to the technicians in question refusing to work on these particular machines. However, if you take a look at the OSHA list, you’ll find things such as Isopropyl Alcohol, as well. How many computer techs do you know who have dipped a cotton swab into rubbing alcohol and then used it to clean a computer part or three? I see it on a regular basis, and have even done so myself at times.

Ammonia is on the list. Are you telling me those same techs refuse to clean their floors and homes? Ammonia is a common substance found in many household cleaners. Chlorine is on the list. Do these guys never go into a swimming pool? Hydrogen Peroxide is on the OSHA list. They better not buy that stuff to clean out cuts on their bodies, that’s for sure.

My point is that there are a lot of substances on that same list… rightfully so… that are used every single day. Many of them are likely even used by these same people who refuse to work on a cigarette smoker’s computer. The key is to be smart when you’re using the substances, right? For instance, you’d want to wear gloves when working with certain chemicals. That’s a commonly known fact! So why can’t the technicians take the proper precautions, and just do the work they are being paid to do?

What are your thoughts on this? Is Apple right to deny these people the service which they paid for – simply because they smoke?

  • Smoking = nasty...and if it's on your computer then don't expect coverage!

  • What about an Apple used in a meth lab, a nail salon, an infectious disease lab? Fact is they are singling out smokers ...and I don't smoke.

    Unless the damage can be directly linked to the smoke (for example clouding of a DVD laser), they ought to be responsible to fix it.

  • Joy

    Wow, that's low. There's nothing like singling out a single group of people for unfair harassment. Corporations and society have a long history of it. Smokers = The new Pinko Commies!

    Blair, you are spot on. This is nothing but a money generating technique that's being used by many corporations because they can get away with it. They are being enabled by people like Hemal who have a knee-jerk reaction to smoking and smokers rather than thinking logically in reaction to what's being done to the individual.

  • Dave

    When i work on anyone's computer besides my own, i wear gloves and a paper mask. I have NO IDEA what's going on in their house (they could have some kind of flesh eating mold growing in their walls or the PC itself) and i don't want to get their funk on my hands or in my lungs. If I'm doing a total tear-down on their machine, the whole thing usually gets a "bath" (alcohol cleaning etc...) before i really get in there. These apple "geniuses" should be required to do the same simply because they have no idea what could be lurking inside of the machines they get (tar residue being the least of their worries). This is all beside the fact that the OSHA list of "highly hazardous chemicals" doesn't have any bearing on safe handling of said chemicals, it's just a list of things that OSHA classifies as "highly hazardous" so that employers can be aware of their existence. If you really want safe use info you'd have to have an MSDS sheet on the actual chemicals that exist in tar residue. I don't personally have the time to look up the MSDS on all of those chemicals but i do know that A: since the residue is of a solid nature then the airborne concern is minimal (unless you disturb the substance) thereby making the suggested PPE (personal protective equipment) gloves. B: if through your interaction with the substance, it becomes airborne, the particulate size that would occur would be of a size that a normal paper respirator or mask would be sufficient for filtration.

    also it should be noted that quite often computer repair folk are exposed to blown capacitors, most of which are electrolytic capacitors. The electrolytes USUALLY used are boric acid or sodium borate suspended in ethylene glycol, none of which are things that you REALLY want to have in your lungs, eyes, or mucus membranes. Should apple be able to refuse to work on a system with a blown cap?

    My point? Wear a paper mask and gloves when working on a computer, whether the person it came from is a smoker or not.

  • Tom Przybylinski

    Apple is a company that caters to lemmings that need to march in lockstep to feel they fit in. I wish they'd find a cliff to fall of off..

  • They are computer technicians, not chemical engineers...I'd be surprised to see any pair of heavy duty gloves worn in their hardware lab unless it was an anti-shock wrist protection guard or small latex gloves to prevent fingerprints...

    I'm sorry but if you spill something on your computer they would turn you away regardless if it affected your computer or not and I rightfully agree.

    A computer is not an ashtray so don't treat it like one, and if you do, don't expect to get your ashtray cleaned by someone else unless you want to pay money for someone to do so.

  • Dave

    "I'm sorry but if you spill something on your computer they would turn you away regardless if it affected your computer or not and I rightfully agree."

    the difference there is that their warranty explicitly states that they don't cover spills and what nots...their warranty doesn't say they won't work on a computer that may or may not have smoking tar...also the heart of the issue isn't whether they refuse to fix things caused by smoking...they refuse to work on it period, no matter what the issue is

  • Eddie

    The writer's ignoring the obvious: this isn't incidental hardware failure, this is damage to the equipment due to the environment it's being used in. It's like me taking my laptop in after getting salt damage from being on my boat with it. Not covered.

    Smokers cause damage to electronics too - we know this, it's not some secret evil Apple ploy - you've not been allowed to smoke in cpu rooms since we had mainframes in the '70s. When I first began programming in '79, in spite of the fact that you could smoke in a college classroom in that period, you were absolutely *not* lighting up in our computer center.

    That yellow film on your curtains and lampshades? Yeah, that screws up your computer too. Don't be a twerp.

  • ron

    Well i'll just make sure never to buy anything from apple and i will carry on smoking because i want to

  • Light Knight

    I love it!

    I thinks it completely justifiable that a technician refuses to go where they know their health is at risk. Yes, alcohol may be dangerous, but a little on a swab is nothing in comparison to the damage cigarette has on their lungs.

    If someone wants to smoke and kill themselves, they shouldn't expect other people to damage themselves for the sake of a machine. Smoking is a choice you make, live with the consequences, whether it be health or service.