Possible class action suit in preparation as Retina MacBook owners report ‘staingate’ screen issues


A possible class action suit is in preparation over multiple reports of what appears to be anti-reflective coatings flaking off the screens of Retina MacBook Pros, resulting in a stained appearance. Most of the machines affected seem to be 2013 models.

A group calling itself Staingate says that it has a database of more than 2500 people affected by the issue. More than 1800 of them have joined a Facebook group, a petition has been created, and lawyers Whitfield Bryson & Mason are collecting details of owners for “potential legal action against Apple related to staingate” … 

Author Ad Placeholder
Will only appear on redesign env.

Repair specialists contacted by the BBC said that the problem does not appear to be a common one, but some affected owners report that Apple is refusing service under warranty, dismissing it as a cosmetic issue. Other owners say they have been offered a repair even out of warranty, but are concerned that the problem will reoccur.

FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.

You’re reading 9to5Mac — experts who break news about Apple and its surrounding ecosystem, day after day. Be sure to check out our homepage for all the latest news, and follow 9to5Mac on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to stay in the loop. Don’t know where to start? Check out our exclusive stories, reviews, how-tos, and subscribe to our YouTube channel


  1. Charlypollo - 8 years ago

    Surely this is the work of android fans, right?

    • keshavchawla2014 - 8 years ago

      I wish it were true but it isn’t, I own a “staingate” MBP 15 (Mid 2014) and apple refuse to do anything about. The say that this was the cause of “cosmetic damage” but I keep my mac in almost mint condition and since many others have this issue I highly doubt that its due to “cosmetic damage”.

      • proudappleuser - 8 years ago

        What do you clean the screen with?

      • keshavchawla2014 - 8 years ago

        Just a lint free-microfiber cloth, most of the time the one apple provided. I have never once used a screen cleaner or put any substance of sorts on my mac.

      • César Ramírez - 8 years ago

        Is your mac still on warranty? When I saw that a very small region on the screen of my MBP 13 (Late 2013) had the same issue I decided to go to an Apple Store (in San Diego, CA) to have it fixed and I kinda persuaded them that it was not cosmetic damage, which resulted in a screen replacement fully covered by Apple. Maybe you can go to another Apple Store, find an understanding employee and wish for the best?

  2. Petr Marcel - 8 years ago

    Simple fix, buy a Dell :D

    • PMZanetti - 8 years ago

      Yeah I hear those Dells with Retina Displays are hot items.

      • thejuanald - 8 years ago

        You do understand that Dell’s xps13 has a 3200×1800 pixel display that is also a touchscreen and higher quality than Apple’s 13 inch (2560×1600) or 15inch (2880×1800) retina Macbook pros, right?That’s higher ppi and ppd than either Macbook pro. Much better than retina. You wouldn’t be spouting nonsense without checking facts again would you?

      • thejuanald - 8 years ago

        Also dell has 5k displays and has had them since before apple innovated then.

      • paulywalnuts23 - 8 years ago

        And it still runs Windows so enough said and no thank you!!

      • thejuanald - 8 years ago

        Well, see now that is at least a personal preference. The issue is PMZanetti tends to spout lies and pass them off as truths.

        As for me, I use both. Both have good things and bad about them. Also there are lots of things that I do that require programs that Apple doesn’t have and sometimes doing simple things in Windows is very difficult in osx. But I like having both.

      • Leif Paul Ashley - 8 years ago

        If it were a dell the rest of it would fall apart… then the screen would have a staingate failure… dell lmao

    • Phillip Cockrell - 8 years ago

      Buy a Dell and the screen becomes the least of your problems…..

      • Chris Weaver - 8 years ago

        So true! I have the latest and greatest dells for the workplace. Im the only one with a Mac. Working IT, I laugh at all the issues people have with Dells.

    • paulywalnuts23 - 8 years ago

      Dell is the worst company in the world to deal with. Been trying to get them to process a tax exempt form for over a month for a church I helped. Oh and then there is the issue that it still runs Windows. Anyway even if I did buy PC’s for personal use Dell wouldn’t be the company I would buy from.

    • applegetridofsimandjack - 8 years ago

      Dell sux. Just like wordpress where we can’t even reply to replies.

  3. its because people are using screen cleaning with alcohole in it

    • paulywalnuts23 - 8 years ago

      My thought exactly!!!

      • gigglybeast - 8 years ago

        An alcohole is someone who drinks too much and acts like a jerk.

    • I can assure you. Alcohol has NEVER touched my screen. Only the microfiber cloth that came with it, and occasionally a puff of moist air from me.

    • Nope, i have this and have never cleaned it with alcohol. just a cloth supplied by Apple.

    • multiplexxer - 8 years ago

      NOT TRUE. Same problem here with two (!) Mac Book Pro Retina 15″, never used alcohol – just the cloths that came with the Apple notebooks…

      • Jared - 8 years ago

        Apple computers don’t come with cloth to clean it with so that may be the first problem. I hope you all aren’t wiping it off with that piece of tissue paper that comes between the keyboard and glass.

      • yepperoni - 8 years ago

        Well, my 2010 MBP definitely came with a black microfiber cloth with an Apple logo on it, along with the Apple stickers and restore DVDs. I haven’t actually used the cloth, but it’s sitting right next to me in the MBP’s box. Obviously newer Macs don’t come with the DVDs but I’m not sure about the cloth.

    • manupf - 8 years ago

      no its cuz the trackpad and the keyboard is too close to the screen when its closed.

    • Ali Hamodi - 8 years ago

      I only used water and still got this issue

      • amysoldier - 8 years ago

        Perhaps an exposure to excessive heat or cold for a spell, and material lost integrity.

  4. Dieter Krieftewirth - 8 years ago

    Well, usually you can use an alcohol based detergent like “windex” to clean a glass screen. I do that quite regularly on my 2012 non-retina Macbook Pro without any downsides.

    Maybe the alcohol is too aggressive for the anti reflection coating. But Apple should really put a warning sticker on the Macbook if something important like that changes…

    • David Kaplan - 8 years ago

      they do. The materials used to make Apple products vary; in some cases each product might have specific cleaning requirements, which might vary by the part you are cleaning. Here are some tips that apply to all products to get you started:
      Use only a soft, lint-free cloth. Avoid abrasive cloths, towels, paper towels, and similar items that might cause damage.
      Unplug any external power sources, devices, and cables.
      Keep liquids away from the product.
      Don’t get moisture into any openings.
      Don’t use aerosol sprays, solvents, or abrasives.
      Don’t spray cleaners directly onto the item.

  5. AeronPeryton - 8 years ago

    I don’t wanna know what that… foreign material might be. I don’t want to clean that screen, I want to burn it.

    • multiplexxer - 8 years ago

      Same problem here with two (!) Mac Book Pro Retina, never used alcohol or another detergent – just the cloths that came with the notebooks…

  6. RobAlex - 8 years ago

    Very bad for PR on the part of Apple to not just replace these bad screens. The photo shows that it’s not just cosmetic; it renders the computer unusable IMO. When they start being compared to Dell, you know they’re in trouble. Been a Dell user for years, by the way, but got tired of their bad (Indian) service. On my last call the rep spent most of his time interrupting me and trying to get my to buy an extended warranty. Apple should maintain its good rep for quality service and fix this for its customers.

    I heartily agree with Dieter that if it’s a matter of inappropriate cleaning, Apple should put a label on clearly indicating the screen needs special handling and how it should be cleaned.

  7. moofer1972 - 8 years ago

    Wow. We own this model, and our glass is gorgeous. We’ve also only ever cleaned it with a microfiber cloth.

  8. Class-action lawsuits are for the lawyers to make money. Apple has always stood by their products. I had a MacBook Pro with screen issues. It was 2 yeas past the warranty date and Apple fixed it for free. I have no doubt that if this is a really problem, Apple will fix it –they always have!

  9. Andrew Messenger - 8 years ago

    I own the 2012 MacBook Pro with Retina display and my glass looks great. Probably because I never clean it.

  10. Roger E (@renamorado95) - 8 years ago

    The instructions on cleaning your MacBook are on apples website. It clearly states what not to use. You are only suppose to use a microfiber cloth. We have 5 retina MacBooks and all the screens are perfect. I only use a microfiber cloth as described in the support document on Apple.com

  11. Igor Magnani - 8 years ago

    It happened to mine also. And I’ve never cleaned the screen with any kind of liquid, only a microfiber cloth.

  12. This story sounds like BS to me. Not the fact that some screens have been damaged, but that Apple has failed or refused to repair them for so many affected customers.

    A plastic foot came off the bottom of my Macbook Pro at one point and I popped into a store to see if they could just tape a new one on for me. They replaced the entire bottom enclosure on the spot without any prompting or suggestion from me.

    That was a few years ago, so maybe they’re not as willing nor fast and loose with repair service, but 1800-2500 seems like an awfully high number of customers. There’s something else here that’s not being discussed/reported.

    • Yea its that they were idiots and don’t know how to clean stuff properly. Ive worked for an AASP for 5 years and I’ve never seen anything like this in our store. Seems to me they’ve used abrasive cleaners on them and obviously it hurts the screens. I have a 2012 Retina that I clean with iKlear every few days and have since I bought it and I do not have this issue.

      tl;dr: they were idiots that don’t know how to take care of electronics

      • manupf - 8 years ago

        well ii cleaned it properly and the trackpad and the keyboard still left marks on the screen which over time scratched off the coating which the genius confirmed and replaced for free on my 22 months old rMBO after he talked to his boss. they suggested to put a matt between the keyboard and the display to avoid it. … on a 1.400€ machine smh

    • multiplexxer - 8 years ago

      @Bruno Fernandes: It’s no bullshit. It happened to me with two different Mac Book Pro Retina 15″.

  13. It happened to me, also. It wasn’t cleaning product, it would appear that something abrasive got to the screen through my fingers (started around the camera, where I normally touch to open the macbook.

    My problem with the whole thing was that if that was Dell, I’d get a glass, or panel replaced for €100 and be done and dusted. But with Apple, I was quoted €800, because entire display assembly had to be replaced.

    Admittedly, despite the damage spreading, it was practically invisible when screen was on and working. I tried to take pictures of it for Apple Support, depending on angle you can make them appear very bad (like one above) or invisible. I lived with it for few months, then sold my MacBook.

  14. Jim Hassinger - 8 years ago

    I’d take them a lot more seriously if they weren’t using the -gate nomenclature. Nixon’s dead. Put that crap to bed.

  15. I have a half a dozen iPad’s and a 2010 Macbook Pro and this never happened to me. I use half distilled water and half rubbing alcohol solution and I clean my products daily and wash my hands all the time. I also use microfiber cloth to clean all my Apple and non Apple products!! That screen in the picture looks pretty bad, looks dirty to me and I guess something like this would happen if you let it stay that way and never clean your screen!! My iPad 2 is past 4 years old now and looks like new. Same with my Macbook Pro. Some people do not even have microfiber cloth’s, I know some friends who have the 2014 Retina MB Pro and its so dirty and abused, no wonder stuff like this happens. Keep your devices clean and maybe it will last you longer!! Good Luck

    • thejuanald - 8 years ago

      So you didn’t read the article. This isn’t an issue on the 2010 macbooks and it has nothing to do with people not keeping their stuff clean. Please learn to read

      • I was talking about overall keeping your products clean!!!! I just said I have these products and I never experienced anything like this and I am sure most people do not, but some of you like yourself might lol

  16. sukhhkahlon - 8 years ago

    did they say this happens to your screen if you sit on it long enough… if you are careless enough with any of your devices, i’m sure it will happen to any laptop. everyone needs a bite out of apple now a days…

  17. nick (@nicksitruc) - 8 years ago

    Everyone of these can be taken into an Apple Store and the machines would be repaired free of charge. Apple probably doesn’t have a fix yet so they are unable to fix it at the moment, but give apple time, this is what Apple care is for. No need to have a class action for this. Apple Care covers Manufacturing defects!!!!

    • Ohhhhh yes, I’m sure you are the first person to think to take it into an Apple store, as the rest most surely have not tried this, at all….. And they possibly don’t have a fix for it and these people should all wait? The fix would be Apple putting on a brand new screen for these affected customers.

  18. modeyabsolom - 8 years ago

    That’s a bit worrying! My rMBP is a 2013 model. Even though so far I’ve noticed no issues.

    • bunim1 - 8 years ago

      Do you ever notice smudges on the screen. From the keyboard when the Mac sits closed. ?

  19. Jim Witte - 8 years ago

    Is there a way to sort the comments *by date* ??? It makes it almost impossible to follow any kind of threaded discussion of *ideas between people*. But possibly that isn’t considered important anymore – just another out-moded 20th century idea (actually, back to whenever the FOXP2 gene evolved to it’s current form)

    • Jim Witte - 8 years ago

      I spoke too soon I guess – perhaps I hadn’t logged in, or just mis-read something. But the other comment about not being able to reply to replies is a good point.

      Anymore, the Internet seems not about a “conversation” – much as news people love saying otherwise. It’s everyone having their 5 minutes of fame. Actually, it seems like it’s *less* than 1 minute of fame – hence people often (with some group, especially with YouTube) not bothering to capitalize, use periods and commas, or proofread – basically, no sub-vocalization.

      The problem is that someone having a COMPLETELY original thought is at least statistically rare, if not *actually* rare – much as everyone would like to think otherwise (me for example, with this post). What you end up with IMHO is a bunch of posts saying basically the same thing. If you have a “ranking” system of some kind to try to counteract that, you then end up with a bunch of posts that don’t make sense because they build on the replies of others.

      And if WordPress won’t let you reply to replies, you lose even that semblance of real “conversation”. The internet has made “conversation” into a the equivalent of a huge cocktail party – without the “Cocktail Party Effect”.

  20. bunim1 - 8 years ago

    I have a Late 13 rMBP and I never had these issue. What I do have is little smudges that get on the screen from the keyboard when sitting closed. Perhaps from the residue or oil that goes from hands to keyboard. It all wipes away.

    Anyone else have this issue. ?

  21. Strange…. my Macbook Pro always has seems to pick a lot of grey dust from the screen which keeps staining the dust cloth

  22. Kaloyan (@kalo_angel) - 8 years ago

    still not over my 2012 retina pro’s display having intense bleeding.. why am I not suing

  23. applegetridofsimandjack - 8 years ago

    WordPress süx azz. can’t even reply to replies.

  24. darkpaw (@darkpaw) - 8 years ago

    Is this about Retina MacBooks or Retina MacBook Pros? The story title says “Retina MacBook”, then goes on about “Retina MacBook Pros”.

    • bunim1 - 8 years ago

      Pros. This is been around for a while before the retina MacBook launched

    • alfredprunesquallor - 8 years ago

      Yes, would it have been too much trouble to add the word “Pro” to the headline? Had to spend a few minutes reading before I knew I didn’t care.

  25. Brandon Burkett - 8 years ago

    Wow. The pattern of that display does not match their claims. That is splatter burns. The initial reaction of repeated spraying or applying of poor or incompatible cleaning liquids with a display protection film. The same reason you never used Windex or other ammonia or alcohol based cleaners on CRT’s or LCD’s. The uniformity of the main horizontal burn and splotches of supplemental burns point clearly to this effect.

    This is not flaking. This is tearing. Once the initial burn bubble sets in, subsequent wiping and further cleaning only acts like a tearing effect, ripping the film away from the glass.

    Do I think Apple should fix this? Yes, to maintain their legendary warranty status and claims of being better than the rest.

    Class Action? No…this was the owners fault for not reading on how best to take care of a monitor.

  26. Jim Phong - 8 years ago

    From the pictures it seems Wolverine destroyed the screens there… Apple fault? It seems a fraud against Apple instead…

    • keshavchawla2014 - 8 years ago

      I wish it were true but it isn’t, I own a “staingate” MBP 15 (Mid 2014) and apple refuse to do anything about. The say that this was the cause of “cosmetic damage” but I keep my mac in almost mint condition and since many others have this issue I highly doubt that its due to “cosmetic damage”.

  27. Ali Hamodi - 8 years ago

    I have the issue and my macbook pro is mid 2012

  28. ijordo - 8 years ago

    can everything stop being a “problem-gate” most things aren’t that big of a deal!

  29. Ali Hamodi - 8 years ago

    I have this issue with my macbook pro retina
    I only used water to clean the screen with sunglasses smooth fabric
    Apple didn’t fix my screen and I refused to pay +400 for it to be replaced.

  30. It’s the glue that holds the display to the glass. I had this issue with an old MBP 13. Got screen replaced and it reoccured. It happend me around the apple logo. Whether it’s the design or the heat causing the glue to disperse is up for debate, but it’s the glue I’m convinced of.

  31. Javier Valero Alapont - 8 years ago

    Got an early 2013, 13 inches and has happened something similar to me.

  32. Here is something I just found on Apple Forums regarding this issue. Hope this explains that some people do stupid things and do not follow the instructions.
    Oct 9, 2014 9:20 AM
    Re: My Retina Display has stain damage, HELP!!!
    in response to bradymott
    After using my MacBook outdoors on a hot sunny day the screen started to show some lines (cracks) on the black borders.

    No wonder Apple won’t fix it, if you do things like this guy has, its your own fault and yes you can do whatever you want but its always at your own risk!!!

    I never took my MBP outside period!!! Its not meant to be used on hot days outside, or at the beach etc. etc.

    • manupf - 8 years ago

      you are not supposed to use a laptop outside? thats the dumbest thing i have ever heard especially for a 1.500€ machine. anyway my apple store fixed it for free and they blamed the trackpad and keybord being too close to the display when its closed

    • mahmudf2014 - 8 years ago

      Tell me then what should i use on hot day outside? An iMac??? A Mac Pro? Also this happens even when you aren’t outside. So don’t try to teach us how to use a laptop. I know how to use it. None of them had issues like this. Plus this is not the first problem of rMBP. Read Problems in every dimension: http://viptest.9to5mac.com/2013/03/20/macbook-pro-with-retina-display-problems-in-every-dimension/

      • I said don’t use it on hot days lol, use an iPad or iPhone instead and use your MBP or iMac in the office or at home. It’s not meant to be used outside on a sunny day lmao

  33. Paul Andrew Dixon - 8 years ago

    having a data base of less than 3000 out of all the millions that have been sold – it doesnt seem that common…

    I think that some people may actually be cosmetic – theyve used alcohol wipes, or something worse, maybe theyve hit the screen in frustration, or had a windows friend prodding at it, or used above the recommended conditions (too hot and humid), have wiped the screen pretty hard, have had kids mess with it etc

    BUT i think some people are legit claims — especially the ones where it appears around the edge – that looks like the adhesive is faulty or something…

    Some though look like they have an actually screen protector on it…

    Hopefully something will happen — but because it’s difficult to tell if it’s cosmetic or not, it might be difficult to prove

  34. Why are Apple users spooging on their laptops?

  35. amysoldier - 8 years ago

    Done did do an exposure to excessive heat or cold for a spell, and material lost integrity, perhaps.

  36. This is silly. This happens to my glasses after about 3-4 years usually because I’ve improperly cleaned them and the coating will peel off. Now that I’ve been properly cleaning them, they are fine. Also I clean my macbook pro with retina daily (yes, daily) with the proper cleaning solution and cloth. But I guess people are going to try to make this into a “known issue” instead of a user error, which it clearly is.

  37. Add me to the list. I own a late 2013 MBP and have the same problem. I’ve only ever cleaned it with a microfibre cloth and they have classed it as ‘accidental damage’. So you pay nearly £1300 for a laptop and it’s so flimsy you can’t even clean it with a microfibre cloth without being at risk of damaging it!. I’m also not sure how they can be sure it’s not a defect without opening up the display and investigating it but apparently it’s good enough for an assistant to just look at it and be sure hmmmm. Says it all.

  38. Peter Hotston - 8 years ago

    I have a late 2012 MBP Retina 13 and the same thing is happening. I normally sell mine as they approach the end of their AppleCare life and buy a new one. I phoned up Apple to see if the screens had changed in anyway since the 2012 model. Answer was no. So I won’t be buying a new one until the screen issue has been resolved but I am off to the Apple Store to see if the geniuses can correct that and the other black out shut problem that has just started happening. Quality at Apple does seem to be on the dive at the moment.

  39. Paul Sanders - 7 years ago

    My MBP 15 Inch Retina screen started about month ago to develop these stains; first with one; now 3 and growing. My computer is late model 2013 placed in service may 2014. Have Apple Care. Trying to get appointment at Apple Store in Frankfurt, GE to show them and ask for replacement.

  40. stylishfire - 7 years ago

    Just wanting to add my own voice to the issue. My Late 2013 15 inch rMBP is *just* still under warranty (I bought it right at the end of the product cycle). I took it in and Apple replaced the screen for free, no hassle.


Avatar for Ben Lovejoy Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

Ben Lovejoy's favorite gear