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Apple now performing free repairs for ‘Staingate’ Retina MacBook screens with anti-reflective coating issues


Earlier in the year, a small-but-not-insignificant number of Apple customers complained about screen issues with their new Retina MacBooks and Retina MacBook Pros, specifically cases where the anti-reflective display coating leaves marks and stains on the screen, ranging from small corner blobs to large patches.

Several months later, Apple seems to have acknowledged the issue and launched a Quality Program to replace affected users’  hardware. The Staingate Facebook page now includes many reports of people successfully sending their MacBooks in for repair at Apple Stores. The existence of the program was first reported by MacRumors.

In general, though, it seems Apple is trying to keep news of the problem quiet. There is no public acknowledgement of such a program existing on Apple’s website. Apple is contacting people who have reported the problem earlier in the year and were turned away, however. If you have problems like those shown in the picture above (although that’s an extreme case), you should now be able to take your laptop to the Apple Store for a straightforward repair.

AppleCare coverage is not necessarily required with several people successfully getting screen repairs/replacements who are officially out of warranty. If you believe you are affected by this problem, call Apple Support or visit an Apple Store or authorized reseller for support.

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  1. thejuanald - 7 years ago

    When the news of this broke, people on here were saying how stupid the people were that had this issue and it must be their fault, not Apple’s. As usual, the morons look like morons. Also, Apple trying to keep this quiet is pretty shitty.

    • srgmac - 7 years ago

      Just like they did with bendgate, despite Apple changing the design this year — not the form factor itself at all, just the strength of the alloy so it would no longer bend. If it was a made up problem, then why change it? People have blinders on…brand loyalty is such a ridiculous concept I don’t even know where to start. They are making billions of dollars — what do you owe them? They’re not paying you to write comments saying how awesome they are…If you’re happy with Apple stuff (as I often am), then cool — but don’t go all buck wild and try to have sex with your iPhone and masturbate to pics of Tim Cook…realize that from time to time, they screw up, and sometimes in a big way. My 13″ retina has burn in / ghosting issues that showed up just as the warranty expired. It is now extremely awful — I am now forced to keep the brightness down all the time — turning it up to even 80% produces burn in within 5 minutes– and a new display would cost so much I would be better off just buying a new laptop all together. I wish Apple would fix mine for free — I doubt they would though. But wait, I know, I’m imagining this problem, it’s made up, it’s not Apple’s fault…right.

    • Charlypollo - 7 years ago

      I remember perfectly that comment section, saying stupid things like “probably you don’t take care of your stuff as you should”. I bet those idiots saw this post and completely ignored it since it is now a problem acknowledged by Apple, and now they can’t spit stupid nonsense in the comments section.

  2. Drew (@gettysburg11s) - 7 years ago

    As everyone with a brain knows, Apple will take care of any quality control issues with your purchase. Also, real journalists done add -gate on the end of anything that want to be a scandal, so they can get more clicks. Only bloggers seems to do this. It makes you wonder if they read history. Watergate was so named, because the crime took place at the Watergate hotel. So, its moronic to call any Apple issues -gate.

    • mashdots - 7 years ago

      I agree with you.
      Also, I agree with your point about the -gate suffix. It’s annoying and as terrible as over-sensationalized article titles. I wish authors in the media would blog and create with a little more integrity.

      • srgmac - 7 years ago

        I am going to have to disagree with you here — for one, 9to5Mac didn’t make this up — it started originally with antennagate I believe, and when Jobs himself had the press conference, I remember this clearly — he used the term, thereby cementing it in stone and legitimizing it. Also, since Apple products are so popular, I think using a common term (however ridiculous the term is), is helpful for readers who wish to find out details and possibly a resolution for the issue. If you searched for “Apple Screen Stain” you might get a ton of irrelevant hits back — but Staingate gets you to where you want to go.

    • Benjamin Mayo - 7 years ago

      I used ‘Staingate’ here because that’s what people who are involved with this issue actually call themselves. I didn’t make it up myself for a few extra clicks.

      • bboysupaman - 7 years ago

        They are right to criticize you on this. A journalist should use the proper/official name for things. Your title could have stood just fine without the “Staingate” part.

        If a woman is arrested for “possession of drugs” and “disturbing the peace”, one would hope that a journalist wouldn’t write “Cracked out woman arrested for throwing a bitch fit”. It’s the same thing here. Don’t use an improperly formed moniker just to garner clicks.

    • strawbis - 7 years ago

      You can’t blame the Author for the “gate” moniker! In the UK it’s used to describe anything that causes mild controversy, no matter what the original term was referencing. It’s now a term legal eagles will attach to anything they want to create an air of scandal around. We’ve had so many political “#gates” in the UK, it’s now considered standard practice for media sources! it’s also used insight-hearted jest.

      Don’t have a cow man! #Cowgate.

      • strawbis - 7 years ago

        *in light-hearted jest

  3. I’ve sold my macbook, at significant discount, because I couldn’t afford to fix it (Apple certified repair centre quoted €800). Too little to late.

    • monty72 - 7 years ago

      And a good reason why I never go to a “certified repair centre”. I took mine into an apple store and they replaced to whole screen 6 months out of the warranty. Wasn’t anywhere near as bad as the one pictured above, just a few stains around the edges.

      • I should clarify. THere are no Apple Stores in Ireland, where I am. I spoke to Apple for a good while, escalated my problem number of times too, and I was told that APple Repair centre is my only option, and Apple will not be making an exception and covering it. So there.

    • monty72 - 7 years ago


    • airmanchairman - 7 years ago

      Surely it would have cost far less to get it done (for free) in an Irish town with an Apple Store? Not worth the bother?

    • Scott (@ScooterComputer) - 7 years ago

      It is cases like yours and @thatsteez’s below that make this kind of thing infuriating. The Fanbois will be long off on another “shout down the critics” crusade to protect the naked emperor, but as with the GPU problems and capacitor problems and leaking G5 chillers, Apple often takes WAAAAAAAY too long to do anything about this kind of stuff. They take SO long that most people who are bitten have given up, and often NEVER even find out there exists a recall notice because they couldn’t have POSSIBLY waited that long with broken kit. Not if they actually wanted to get shit done, that is. It didn’t take Apple’s engineers this long to determine that the screens were bad, it took this long for the Apple Exec team and Apple Legal to hammer out a deal with a supplier on how this recall/$$refund was going to go. Then they announced. Quietly. Limitedly. But in the meantime, ALL those effected users suffered what amounted to defective hardware for years. Their compensation? Oh, we’ll fix it. Now. Finally. (Well, that is a GIVEN, Apple. Sheesh.) And if you already spent the cash, we’ll compensate you, without interest or any nod to having to have dealt with the hassle. (Again, gee thanks, Apple, for doing what you SHOULD HAVE DONE months ago.). Not even a free t-shirt. Wow.

      How about this…how about you take their defective computers back and send them NEW units. Because you were dicks. That’s penance.

      [FWIW, I have a long history of dealing with Apple Support and the Exec team over bad support experiences. It is always great to hear all the positive experiences Apple purchasers have, from never having issues, to having them but finding Apple nice and accommodating. But the real rubber/road testament is when shit goes REALLY bad. And it does. And Apple, invariably, falls flat on its face every damn time. You’d think, given their record, such occasions are VERY RARE, and my experience tells me they are rare. Not rare enough, but indeed rare. Yet they’re SO rare that you’d think Apple, $200B cash-pile Apple, could handle them with aplomb and just ship new kit…do a swap. Get the worst of the worst off the table and make a very happy customer. However, time and time and time again, that does NOT happen. They screw it up. Then they dig in and make it worse. And, more infuriatingly, you’ll get some nitwit that jumps in and says “Well so and so Apple store gave me a brand new iPhone after I dropped mine in the toilet”, as if that negates several dozen Exec team-escalated issues I’ve dealt with in my history with supporting the company. Those ARE the worst, because it shows Apple inconsistently and absolutely capriciously dealing with issues, and when those people chime in it REALLY pisses off—and hence makes non-Apple customers for the rest of their lives—legitimately aggrieved buyers. It has been 30 years, and Apple hasn’t gotten better at this. I have zero belief it will change, either. It is a corporate culture problem, a corporate culture that eschews failure, and then is completely blinded to abject failure right in front of it. Like the See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil monkey scene in ‘Planet of the Apes’, they simply cannot accept what is right there and obvious.]

  4. ❗ (@thatsteez) - 7 years ago

    Wow. A month ago I brought mine in to the Apple store because of this issue. They said they hadn’t really seen this issue before although I pulled an 86 page thread of it on MacRumors. I was out of warranty, and after stating that this issue was clearly not done on my behalf after seeing numerous reports of it online, the manager finally dropped the repair price to replace the whole screen from $600 to $200. Although it was nice I received a discount, I still didn’t find it fair considering I did not cause this issue and it was happening out of nowhere to many others. I want to see if I can get a refund on my repair.

    • rrobinson1216 - 7 years ago

      They should refund the repair price without any problems. Of course, you could always call Customer Relations, but just be nice about it and they’ll almost always bend over backwards to make it right.

  5. That’s exactly the issue I had with my apple device and apple tried to charge me 300 dollars to repair. I said no. Thank god I saw this story. I was just going to spend the money on that too!

  6. Leif Paul Ashley - 7 years ago

    Looks like someone spilled something on it…

  7. raduray (@raduray) - 7 years ago

    I took my 2015 15″ Macbook Pro to my local Apple store with the screen staining issue. I was unaware that this was a widespread problem and was expecting a hassle, but I was informed that there was a quality program in place and they replaced my screen. It took two days. The only problem is that the new screen does not seem to be as bright as the previous one. Anyone else experiencing this?

  8. Ian Norman - 7 years ago

    Just as a report back for those affected by this issue and are wondering about the repair process. I sent my mid-2012 Macbook Pro Retina in on the quality program via my local Apple Store in California. They anticipated 5-7 days for the repair. The Macbook was sent to Houston, TX and returned within 7 days. They replaced the Display Clamshell, Retina, 15″ (Item Number 605-3504) free of charge.

    The computer seems good as new. The rubber bezel around the edge of the screen appears deeper, not sure if there are any actual changes to the screen’s reflective coating but it looks perfect. I actually didn’t know about the quality program. I brought my Mac to the genius bar for battery issues and the employee helping me noticed the surface of my screen and asked if I wanted a free screen replacement alongside my battery replacement. Seemed like a good deal and I was traveling for a week anyways and didn’t absolutely need my macbook so I jumped on it.

  9. inkubot (@inkubot) - 7 years ago

    just got my macbook retina 13″ repaired in amsterdam genius bar, no questions, no money asked… just a nice and quick repair :)

    • Joean  (@joeansian) - 6 years ago

      I don’t have the luxury like yours. I was asked by the repair center to leave my MBP at the store for 5 days as they need to order the part.
      I need my MBP to do my work, and I can’t afford to leave it there for 5 days.
      I called Apple to explain my situation, they just arrogantly ignored that.
      I told them, I would bring my MBP to the repair center, so they could diagnose and see the problem themselves, after that they could log a case to Apple for part. While waiting for the part to arrive, I want to keep my laptop (since they have identified the problem), so I could use my laptop. Until the part arrived, I would just bring it in again for the part replacement. Such a simple request has been declined by Apple. Apple said, this is their rule.
      This is ridiculous, Apple thinks every Mac owner is a casual user? They can leave it for 5 days?
      My staingate-MBP is still with me without repair as I can’t free up 5 days without the laptop.
      Tim Cook should be ashamed with such a service.

    • Luca Bertoli - 6 years ago

      Were you on warranty?

  10. Kwame Owusu (@kwamayze) - 5 years ago

    I used Madarzone, effectively a parazone, with cotton. Cleans off without pressure. Had tried ethanol, paraffin etc before and all didn’t work.


Avatar for Benjamin Mayo Benjamin Mayo

Benjamin develops iOS apps professionally and covers Apple news and rumors for 9to5Mac. Listen to Benjamin, every week, on the Happy Hour podcast. Check out his personal blog. Message Benjamin over email or Twitter.