Macbook Air – faulty screen damages trackpad

After 9 days with my Macbook Air I’ve returned to the shop to ask for a replacement.

I noticed a few dark pencil thin marks appearing on the trackpad button and just wiped them away with my thumb. But they kept reappearing in the same place and getting more and more visible and also creeping onto the palm rest area too.

The marks are being caused by the top edge of the screen surround / bezel scratching the lower trackpad and palm rest areas when the case is closed and there appears to be a noticeable mark appearing on the edge of the bezel too.

I have also noticed that my trackpad button isn’t level in the case, the left edge sits lower than the right edge and consequently the right edge is getting more damage from the screen than the left.

My local Apple reseller have asked me to return the unit with box and all the bits on Monday when the area manager is around, I hope for a complete replacement considering the machine is 9 days old today.

I’ve had a quick search on the web and there doesn’t seem to be anybody else reporting this fault so hopefully its just a one off faulty unit and not a design fault across the Macbook Air range.

UPDATE (3rd March 2008):
I have just had my Macbook Air replaced without any questions. Becuase it was less than 2weeks old they were able to return it to Apple as DOA (Dead on Arrival) and issued me with a new MBA on the spot. I’ve not opened the new one yet but will be sure to report back here if the same thing happens with the replacement.

36 Replies to “Macbook Air – faulty screen damages trackpad”

  1. Scoopz: Thanks for your answer.
    I’ll take it back, but I’m not certain that the shop will replace it. The machine is from oktober, so less than a year old, and have been treated pretty well, no other scratches or marks.

    Thanks again.

    1. @Chris – Yes that rubbing appears to be much worse than mine, I’d definitely take it in for an Apple Genius to look at. Is your machine less than 1 year old and in generally good working order (not been dropped or damaged in any way that could have bent the hinge or lid)?
      My replacement machine was perfect for nearly a year until the hinge snapped completely (see this post) and then it went in for repair and came back with a complete new upper lid unit. This new lid is not as well aligned to the lower half of the machine and is showing some slight rubbing marks again but nothing drastic.
      Scoopz (Admin)

  2. Everyone understands that we are not the only ones except for Apple.

    I had my MBA purchased in Hong Kong 10 months ago and by now it has clearly visible scratches around the camera.

    A collegue of mine purchased his around the same time in Germany and it has the same problems as well.

    We approached the service center here in Lithuania, they send picture to Apple and the reply was that it is our carelessness that has caused it. Apple said they’ve never heard of the problem.

    Any chances these boys are reading the blog?

  3. @Kelvin – I am very surprised that the Apple service centre didn’t replace it under warranty regardless of where you purchased it. It’s a manufacturing fault and they should act accordingly and get it fixed/replaced.

    I’m not sure on the laws in HK but here in the UK there’s a Sale of Goods Act (link) that states that items sold must be fit for purpose and free from defect. If they do not meet these requirements it’s the consumers right to expect a refund or an exchange from the vendor not the manufacturer. Are there any similar laws in HK that you can refer to?

    How long have you had the machine? If it’s only a week or two old (it can’t be much more than that if it’s the new one) and I was in your situation I’d go back to the vendor and explain to them that Apple have refused to honour their warranty and you would like a refund. There’s no point trying to get an exchange from the vendor because if Apple won’t honour the warranty on items purchased outside the office reseller stores then you’ve got no comeback should something else go wrong with it in the future.

    Also, get Apple to put into writing the reason they are unable to repair/replace the unit and pass that on to the vendor and any local trading standards centres.

    Ensure you have some good photos of the fault too and keep detailed logs of your unsuccessful visits to the Apple service centre, any phone calls, emails, etc I know it’s not going to get you a new laptop immediately but they might prove very useful later.

    Finally, request a copy of the vendors full Terms & Conditions (if it was an online store look for the T&C’s on their site) and see if it mentions anywhere that purchasing an Apple product from them will render the warranty void and also check out their refund/return/complaints policy.

    Good luck and keep me updated with your progress.

    Scoopz (Admin)

  4. I just bought the latest top of the line 1.86 mhz Macbook Air. After a few days, I notice the same thing as described above on my touchpad. At first I thought it was stains. . But it seems like I have to remove the pencil mark everyday. I called the hotline telling them about my problem. They gave me a reference number and told me to go back to the shop I purchased it. I went back to the shop and they asked me to go back to Apple service center. To my surprise when I brought it to the service centre, they didn’t know what to do and did not have the authority to change me a new one. They told me they will write to Apple an email and get back to me a few days time.
    Can you offer any advice?

  5. hi stephen,

    i think apple’s policy for replacing doa computers require you to report the issue within 7 days of receiving the mac.

    you could try asking for a warranty repair to replace the screen and top case.

  6. Hey Scoopz, thanks for the reply!

    I got it May 19th, and it’s been lightly use. The Air is my portable computer…so it’s been on like…2 plane flights and make 5 hours of regular use!

    The Apple Genius was really nice, she wasn’t blaming me for anything, just when she searched the known issues for the Macbook Air, nothing came up for this.

    I will go back and show them this blog post, I guess and the fact that people HAVE gotten it replaced for this issue.

    Thank you for the suggestions!

  7. @Stephen:
    That’s bad news, how long have you had the MacBook Air? It’s not like it can be more than 6 months old if you got it on launch day!

    My first step would be to try taking it back to the same shop but on ask a different assistant.

    Failing that I’d try another Apple store if there’s one close by.

    As a last resort ask the assistant who’s refusing to replace it to give you written confirmation of their name, store location and the exact reason they feel it isn’t a manufacturing fault. If they aren’t willing to provide that ask to speak to the store manager, if they’re still not helping don’t get too frustrated and start making a scene just politely ask for the address for Apple Customer Complaint Department, ask them all for their names and leave it at that. Get home and write a follow up official complaint letter to Apple detailing your product and serial, purchase date, the fault (include photos) and a chronological log of your visits to the Apple shop and failed returns, it can’t harm to link this blog article too! Make sure you send the letter recorded delivery, if they still don’t play ball send me a copy of your letter and their response and I’ll post it on this thread for others to comment on.

    The Apple store should at least offer to send it to Apple HQ for inspection, are they trying to apportion the damage to wear and tear or physical damage caused by you?

    Good luck, I hope you get it sorted out.

    Scoopz (Admin)

  8. I have the scratching on the top under the isight, and it’s beginning to come in on the bottom near the touchpad.

    I took it in and mentioned this blog (that other people have had this issue and it was replaced), but the lady said she didn’t see anything on the Apple Technical Support side, so they wouldn’t replace it…

    Anything I can do?

  9. Thanks for the post. I have had the same problem with my MacBook Air – the thin, pencil-like marks along the trackpad button. I don’t find it annoying enough to go to the Apple Store for a replacement, though. Oh well.

  10. i didn’t even realise this was a problem until i saw this post! my MBA has the same dark line on the clickpad and marks on the top bezel where its rubbing. i guess its cos the clickpad is raised so its rubbing. Also, my trackpad is sometimes not responsive and has been getting more noticable. Has anyone else experienced this? Also when you returned it did they do a transfer of data to the new MBA, as i’ve spent quite some time getting my softwre and data the way i like it!


  11. Shahid,
    I think i know what you mean about the scratches/marks on the actually glossy screen itself, I have a friend with the exact same problem on his MacBook Pro with the keyboard surround (just above the trackpad and below the space bar) leaving a trail of marks on the screen. They don’t clean off and are permanent marks. This has been an ongoing issue with Macbooks for several years with the keyboard or keyboard surround scratching and marking the screen.

    Many people have resorted to buying screen protectors, basically a thin peice of felt that you put over your keyboard before shutting the lid. Several cases I have bought have come with these included for free but I’ve never used them, too much hassle and I’ve never had marks appearing on the screen itself.

    The marks on the screen could be caused by increased pressure on the screen lid when it’s closed, causing the screen to touch the keyboard surround and rub. This would not be covered by Apple but the fact that you have issues with metal on metal rubbing and marking the trackpad and screen bezel I’d take it back to Apple for that alone and get a new one and possibly argue that if the screen bezel is marking the trackpad then the screen is out of alignment and hence scratch the lcd itself too.

    Good luck! Post back and let everybody know how you get on.

    Scoopz (Admin)

  12. I’m having the same problem with the marks on the trackpad, and on the top bezel. But what is bothering me is that I am now noticing some slight marks on my actual screen that line up with where the indentation above the trackpad is. (In other words, the area where the keyboard dips down.) They look like little specks that cannot be cleaned off. (Not anything to do with the pixels etc. Its like little scratches on the screen.) Maybe dust got caught in between and scratched my screen. I have had my Macbook Air for a few months now, so I don’t know if this would be covered.

  13. Same problem here, with he marks on the screen bezel to either side of the cam. Also: My trackpad button has a two-stage click on the left side, which is to say when I press it it clicks once very lightly then a second time as I complete the full press, for the actual, registered click. I’m going to the Apple Store to see if they’ll replace this unit with another. I bought it about a month ago. Wish me luck.

  14. Hon,

    My replacement has been perfect and no marks being left on the trackpad or anywhere else and it’s getting used much more than my first one and treated a little “rougher” in my bag, in transit, etc.

    It might be a pain but if your replacement is doing the same thing I’d get it swapped again. It shouldn’t take 2 weeks for a replacement, if they want to send it off for repair try asking for a full refund and then simply buy another straight away.

    I’m not sure what country you live in but in the UK the consumer is covered by some pretty good “Sales of Goods” laws, you just need to state the item is not fit for purpose and unless they have reason to believe you’ve damaged it yourself they have to refund you. They really don’t have a leg to stand on saying its caused by you since they’ve already inspected a MBA with the exact same fault and deemed it to be a manucturing fault and issued a replacement.

    Also, if you bought it with a credit card get in touch with the credit card company, most offer a free 90 day insurance on all purchases over £100 and they might be able to help get a refund/exchange.

    Good luck and I hope you get a non-faulty MBA soon. Don’t worry there are a few good ones out there 🙂

    PS – if necessary point the retailer to this thread so they can see examples of others with the same problem as you and some photos.

    Scoopz (Admin)

  15. Hi Scoopz,

    Have you noticed the same scratching on your replacement MacBook Air? Mine replacement was a week 10 and it is progressively getting worse with the screen scratching on the trackpad.


  16. Sorry, unfortunately I didn’t take any photos of the scratch.

    I’m currently tossing up whether to return this MBA back to Apple for another DOA or just take it to my local reseller to get them to replace the topcase.

    In all, the DOA process took nearly 2 weeks for me.

  17. Hon,

    Glad to hear you were given a replacement without too much hassle. Did you happen to get any photos of the damage under the iSight camera? If so then let me know, I can add them to the photos on this page for others to see if you like.

    How stiff is the new trackpad button? I can easily depress mine with almost no effort using my little finger. I rarely use the trackpad button though, opting instead to use the touch sensitive trackpad area for all my clicking.

    Scoopz (Admin)

  18. I had exactly the same problem but instead of the scratches happening on the trackpad it was on the bezel beneath the iSight cam.

    My MBA was replaced under DOA but now the new one has a very stiff trackpad button that requires quite a bit of effort just to depress it.

  19. Chris,
    I’ve got the same model as you (80GB) and don’t have any problem with boot time (63 seconds). I’ve not got round to installing BootCamp and Windows XP but it’s next on my list of things to do.

    Can you recall if your boot time was slow before you had XP installed?

    Since I don’t have a dual boot at present I never really shutdown my MBA completely, just letting it sleep while in transit or sometimes I’ll use the widget to put it to deep sleep for extended periods to save battery drain whilst sleeping.

    The only time I boot from scratch is when installing updates and rebooting so even if I had a slow boot time I would only notice it once or twice a week perhaps.

    Having said that, if I install XP then obviously switching between the two OS’s means I’ll notice any slow boot times on a daily basis, at which point I could understand how it could be irritating.

    On a side note, how are you finding XP running under boot camp? I’m trying to find out if the USB superdrive and LAN adaptor are fully supported, don’t suppose you have them do you?

    Scoopz (Admin)

  20. About the issue on boot time, mine seems taking ages. I spoke to Apple tech support probably out of Sydney in Australia. The guy asked him to remove all those startup tasks but it did not help at all, i.e. no difference. I am using the latest version of Leopard (there was an update last week). It is annoying starring at the “blue screen” for an extended period of time before the desktop shows up. In the end, the tech support guy said that Leopard is a large programme??? But, I seems to recall the issue on Apple Forum on the “blue screen” issue but find it too complicated to resolve. I also installed XP (although I also had the choice of Vista Business), that seems to load fairly quickly. On the whole, I think Macbook is probably a “better” machine, design wise and everything else. Forgotton to mention, I have the 80GB version, can’t really afford to pay that much extra for the flash drive model.

  21. Zoso,

    Thanks for letting us know you have a similar problem, glad to hear Apple have acknowedged your fault and offered a replacement. You’re in the magic 14 day “dead on arrival” period too so they really shouldn’t have any issues giving you a new one.

    I was given a new Macbook Air about a week ago and this new one seems ok. I’ve only really used it a few times but there are no marks so far which is promising and my trackpad button is level on the new one too.

    Becuase of it’s small form-factor it is very susceptable to minor changes/defects in the case and chasis. I think it might just be a batch of a few faulty MBA’s that are affected but only time will tell as more MBA’s get sold we’ll see how many report a similar problem.

    Scoopz (Admin)

  22. Hey, i have just purchased my macair last friday and noticed the same scrathin on the trackpad and near it the same day however i rubbed it off. But again today it has reappeared and is much larger in length. I have spoken to apple and they said they would replace it but it would take time as they do not have stock as usual.
    However my trackpad is not elevated like the pictures above. Seems to be a defect in design maybe.

  23. ^^ Ken ^^
    I didn’t have any issues with the trackpad button’s responsiveness, however, if you had similar “pencil” lines appearing on your butotn it is plausible that the screen pressing on the button (hence causing the scratching) was compressing the trackpad button when the Air was closed. This could have somehow caused the mirco-switch under the trackpad button to fail prematurely or become less responsive?

    I’ve not really had chance to get my new MBA out of the box yet but finger’s crossed it’ll be OK.

  24. I had the same problem. I also had problems with trackpad button responsiveness and I am having my MBA replaced. Until I read this post, it did not occur to me that the pencil marks, as you call them, could be the cause of the trackpad button problem.

  25. I’m sorry about the original poster’s Air problem. Sounds like a sample defect and it shouldn’t be any trouble getting it fixed.

    If you’re worried about boot times, the solid state drive version boots about three times as fast as the non-solid state version.

    I had both of them coming up in the Apple Store and I did a good timing run.

    The solid state drive is the one to get if you’re annoyed about it taking more than a second to get out of sleep. When you open the case, bam! It’s on.

    The hard drive model is a second or two slower.

    I’m pretty impressed by it, even though with my need for a huge screen I will be buying a MacBook Pro.


  26. ^^Wayne^^
    No my boot time isn’t long at all. I’m on desktop at present so hold on, I’ll see how long it takes for a full boot…
    ….63 seconds, fully booted and opening mai,.app
    Scoopz (Admin)

  27. Apple has a 14 day return policy on computers, typically if nothing is wrong w/ a machine they charge a 10% restocking fee. HOWEVER, yours seems to have a defect, in which they will swap out the computer free of charge, w/ no penalties to you.

  28. I never heard of this problem on any other MBA, or for that matter, any other MacBook or Pro! Personally, I would exchange it as soon as I could; it seems as if you have a tiny crack that is somehow flittering dirt from within the bottom to the top, but of course, I really can’t say?

    Apart from above problem, how do you find the MBA? I read they are selling like hot cakes despite the perceived shortcomings of some, and already, I read three or four customers say it was next to perfect – so, how about you?

  29. I guess thats why they say be careful about first generation hardware.. Quick question.. is the AIR boot time crazy long? I was in an apple store waiting over 2.5 mins for one to boot up….

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