CONSUMER CATCH-UP: Apple prioritizes repairs of MacBook keyboards after complaints, how to use "hacker fares" to score a travel deal, and petition pleads for plastic straws

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Apple prioritizes repairs of "butterfly hinge" keys after complaints of failing MacBook keyboards

Apple is instructing its Genius Bar technicians to prioritize repairs of its problematic "butterfly" style MacBook keyboards.

In a memo obtained by Mac Rumors, Apple tells its technicians that "most keyboard-related repairs will be required to be completed in store until further notice. Additional service parts have been shipped to stores to support the increased volume. These repairs should be prioritized to provide next-day turnaround time. When completing the repair, have the appropriate service guide open and carefully follow all repair steps."

Introduced in 2015, the "butterfly" style keyboards use a single-assembly hinge underneath each key. The hinge is wider and thinner, and therefore more stable and responsive. The previous "scissor" mechanism consisted of two pieces, which, while quiet and easier to press, sometimes wobbled and resulted in mistyping.

However, Apple received complaints that the butterfly keys malfunctioned after being exposed to dirt or dust. A lawsuit was filed in 2018 alleging that the keyboards were "prone to fail." Apple has apologized for the flaw and updated its keyboards with a silicon barrier to keep debris out.

Separate one-way air tickets often cheaper than round-trip, according to new analysis

Booking two one-way airline tickets is often cheaper than purchasing a round-trip ticket, according to airfare research app Hopper.

These so-called "hacker fares" are cheaper 11% of the time on domestic routes, and 18% of the time on international trips. Cities serviced by multiple airlines are the most likely to land you a deal. According to travel-booking site KAYAK, Kona, Hawaii and Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts offer the biggest savings.

Frequent fliers have also noted additional benefits to "hacker fares;" booking two separate flights allow travelers to be more flexible with the times of their departures and arrivals, and the cancellation fees on a cheaper one-way ticket is often much less than the fee on round-trip airfare.

New petition urges McDonald's to ditch paper straws and bring back plastic

Despite efforts to cut back on the consumption of single-use plastic products, a new petition is fighting back against the scourge of fast-food milkshakes: paper straws.

A petition on 38 Degrees, a British nonprofit, has gotten over 36,000 signatures from customers asking McDonald's to get rid of paper straws and bring back plastic straws. The creator of the petition, Martin Reed, stated that he wanted the fast-food chain to ditch the paper straws "So I can drink my milkshake proper."

Comments on the petition and on social media agreed, as frustrated customers vented about the flimsier straws. "Just thinking about the straws makes my teeth go funny," read one comment. "Dissolves way to (sic) quick plus same feeling on your teeth as chewing kitchen foil. Never take the straws anymore, have my own plastic ones in the car."

For its part, McDonald's has responded on social media. "We completely understand your concerns and can reassure you that whilst paper straws will be introduced to all restaurants," the fast-food chain said, "we'll be working on retaining an alternative option for those that require one."

Written by Simone Chavoor

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