MacBook Air, MacBook Pro users: Does your screen have "stains?"

Reader Bhaskar Bhat recently alerted me to a web site that describes a problem I've had with my early 2013 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro. I thought I'd pass it along in case you've had the same issue. has been set up with photos and a form you can fill out, if you so choose, to provide details about your own machine (I chose not to — I'm not sure how secure that data is or what the owners of the site plan to do with it, so I won't be submitting my details for now).

First of all, a word to whomever started this: Using the suffix "gate" to describe a problem, especially when it involves Apple products, is a tired trope that I wish would stop. Not every scandal or concern is "gate"-worthy. Antennagate, Bendgate, Gamergate, now Staingate — give it a rest. It trivializes one of the most traumatizing American political scandals of the past half-century and diminishes your own complaint in the process.

Anyway, back to the meat of this particular issue: According to the info posted on that site, some Apple laptop owners are noticing that, at least in some cases, within a few months of use, "stains" appear on the display. It's not happening to everyone, but it is happening. The site reports that more than 1,500 people have already added themselves to the database. Who knows how many more people have the problem, however.

I have an early 2013 15-inch MacBook Pro that I got in April 2013. About a year ago I first noticed some horizontal streaks on the upper part of the display near the FaceTime camera. At first I thought it was something on the surface of the display: Maybe finger oil that had been transferred when the lid was closed, or some other substance. Buffing it with lens cleaner and a soft cloth did nothing, however. I was content to let sleeping dogs lie because it wasn't covering the camera lens and wasn't directly in my line of sight when I viewed the screen. But the problem gradually got worse. The problem looked very similar to the image included in this article, which I copied from the Staingate web site.

Over this past winter I had my computer examined by an Apple-authorized service provider (not a Genius at an Apple retail store — the closest actual Apple store is an hour away). Fortunately, my MacBook Pro is still covered under AppleCare, Apple's extended warranty plan. That service provider was able to swap the display out under AppleCare, so I paid no fee to get it replaced. I just had to live without my laptop while the repair was happening.

According to the Staingate web site, at least some Apple customers with this problem are being told it's a cosmetic issue that's not covered under warranty. That doesn't seem right to me. If you are having this problem and you've been told you have to pay for it yourself, my advice is to escalate it: Call AppleCare. Bring it to the attention of the store manager at your local Apple retail store, if necessary.

And if you still experience resistance, point them to the Staingate web site to show that it's a problem others are having. Even if you're as I am and you have to hold your nose when you type in the URL.

Peter Cohen