UPDATE: Apple has finally responded to this problem with a repair program. I was able to work with Apple to refund the $350 I paid to have my MBP fixed.
Apple really does not want to admit that its entire batch of Late 2011 MacBook Pros are lemons. In addition to the change.org petition, there is now a class-action suit which has been making the media rounds:
A massive thread in the Apple forums contains a huge gathering of unhappy customers. Here is one illustrating Apple’s stonewalling:
Called Apple Care today for the first time, and they’ve never heard of this problem. This is not a known issue. I pointed them to this forum and to the recent Time magazine article about the issue, nope, they’ve never heard of it. Even reached the head VIP tech support supervisor dude. Nope, never heard of any problems with the Macbook Pro 2011. So the answer to all your questions is “we’re all dreaming”.
Obviously Apple has done the calculations and decided that their best interests are served by settling a lawsuit (which I assume will be the eventual outcome) rather than admitting that hundreds of thousands (millions?) of their “pro” laptops have a hard expiration date.
There is no simple fix for the problem. What if we’re talking about one million laptops at $2,000 apiece – are they going to refund $2 billion dollars on machines that are out of warranty? No, they will stall, delay, and let the lawsuit play out. So years from now there will be something in the news about Apple settling some lawsuit on machines made way back in 2011, and that negative PR and settlement will be much less impactful than if they were to own up to the problem here in 2014.
Apple is one of those companies that you want to love, that you want to believe is not evil. But when put in a tight spot, the corporation has no qualms about snatching your wallet with one hand, and burying a knife in your back with the other.