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Mouse Button Problems

Almost two years ago I began noticing posts on Usenet about Macintosh mouse problems in which the mouse button appears to stick, not mechanically, but in effect. The reports included Macs with a wide variety of software and hardware configurations. I figured, well, by the time I buy my new Mac, Apple will have fixed the problem. But last July when my LC II arrived, so did a nice little mouse having an intermittent problem with its button.

In August, I talked to representatives of the Apple Customer Assistance Center (ACAC) at Macworld Expo. They had not heard of the trouble, so I began gathering reports about it via the Internet. In four months I collected over 100 detailed accounts. In November, I found a contact at Apple’s Customer Support – Escalation and Response Group and forwarded the reports to them. They acknowledged the problem and said they were starting an investigation that would take several months.

From the reports and my own experience, I believe the problem is caused by a production flaw that affected the miniature switch in the mouse, and not by a system software or main logic board problem. This has NOT been confirmed, however, by Apple or by independent testing. Over 90% of the reports implicate mice manufactured in Malaysia.

In January I asked my contact if Apple would consider making a public statement about the problem and offer troubled mouse users a replacement mouse (that was, after all, why I took on this crusade!).

In February they responded:

…all I can tell you is that Apple is always interested in collecting information about potential problems, but we do not provide details to the public regarding these potential issues or programs since during this investigative phase the information is highly confidential.

Apple does not comment on rumors about products, programs, or promotions that have not been officially announced by Apple. We refrain from commenting to protect customers from making decisions based on incomplete or inaccurate information. We feel it is the best way to ensure that all customers are treated fairly.

They told me that I won’t hear anything from them until May at the earliest.

I don’t believe that the problem will occur in the new mice Apple is shipping. But I’m concerned that Apple will not publicly acknowledge the problem or offer afflicted users good mice. There are certainly many more instances of this problem out there. Recent discussion of it in the Info-Mac Digest brought me a flurry of unsolicited reports and calls for help.

I think it’s time for the folks who have had this problem to start talking to Apple directly. If you have experienced this problem, call your regional Apple Customer Assistance Center and politely tell them that you know they are investigating the problem and that you hope they will announce a program to provide afflicted users with new mice. If you can, tell them the mouse’s serial number and place of manufacture (printed on the underside of the mouse), and that it has the trouble with your extensions turned off. Here’s hoping a few hundred calls will prod Apple to action!

United States — 800/776-2333
Canada — 800/665-2775
UK and Europe — 33-1-49-01-49-01
Australia — 61-2-452-8000
Japan and Pacific — 81-3-5411-8500

If the number is not toll-free, try calling collect.

Other notes — Thanks, Liam, and remember, people on the other side of the phone can only relay your message, so be as polite and professional as possible. It’s also not that person’s fault, he or she just bears the brunt of this sort of thing.

In a recent MacInTouch column, MacWEEK’s Ric Ford added more interesting details. Ric noted that he had received scattered reports of problems with non-Malaysian mice (I’ve confirmed a few cases of non-Malaysian mice having the virtual sticking problem as well), and several people told Ric that they solved the problem by loosening the screws on the bottom of the mouse. If you need to fix your mouse (Apple won’t, see our article on repair below), Ric reported that Soft Solutions of Eugene, Oregon offers both component level repair and various parts for the afflicted rodent.

Ric also mentioned an Apple repair program for mice that are sensitive to static electricity (US-made mice with serial numbers from AP038xxxxxx to AP103xxxxxx) and an abortive Apple plan to replace mice with serial numbers between LT043xxxxxx and LT051xxxxxx. Those mice have a defect that could prevent the mouse button from working, although it would seem that such a problem would be covered by the standard warranty. MacWEEK reported on the replacement plan in the 24-Feb-92 issue, but Apple apparently cancelled the program before it began.

Soft Solutions — 503/461-1136 — 503/461-2005

Information from:
Ric Ford, MacWEEK — [email protected]

Related articles:
MacWEEK — 15-Mar-92, Vol. 7, #11, pg. 60

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