Monday, February 11, 2008


UPDATE (3-2-08): Apple overnighted a new adapter to me after much arm twisting. They did make me take it to an Apple service center in Peoria to ensure that it wasn't my computer ruining the adapter. A representative informed me that there weren't enough occurrences to warrant a recall, but they still shipped me the newly designed adapter free of charge, despite being out of warranty. I plan to somehow reinforce it somehow to prevent this from happening again as I am not completely satisfied with the new design. Anyway, thank you, Apple...

EDIT: After talking to Apple today, they indicated that they would send me a new adapter even though the warranty is expired. However, they want me to take it to an Apple service center in Peoria to ensure that it's not my computer's fault that the power adapter failed since this is the second incident I've had. Seems reasonable, but not once did they mention that there are significant problems with this adapter.

Let me begin by saying that I'm generally a big Apple fan. I've been using them for years, but recently they've fallen short in the customer service department. For instance, the optical drive in my Mac Mini began making an obnoxiously loud noise. Since it was still under warranty, I called Apple to request a work order. They informed me that, although my Mac Mini was under warranty (1 year), my tech support warranty (3 months) was expired. I explained to them that I didn't need tech support; I had a hardware issue, but they would not even listen to my explanation. Instead, they directed me to an Apple service center in Peoria where I could get it fixed. I guess that's not a bad option - maybe I'll get it fixed sooner, but still it's exceptionally lousy customer service.

Now for the kicker: Apple designed an advanced AC adapter for the MacBook Pro line in 2006 dubbed the Mag-Safe Adapter. The plug is held in place with a magnet so that it comes loose in the event of a sudden tug on the cord. It's a brilliant design in that respect, but fatally flawed in another. The part of the cord that takes the most abuse (where the cord enters the plug), is not reinforced well causing the inside insulation to break and the wires to fray. Once this happens, the wires short and quit working (best case scenario) or short and cause a fire (worst case scenario). Luckily, I caught mine getting hot today when it was only mildly shorting out. I immediately began researching and found a pretty nifty post that showed how to disassemble the plug and repair it (Thanks go out to Brian).

I was able to take the plug apart with minimal damage. I then cut the cord and re-soldered the connections. It worked perfectly during the test run, but when I reassembled the sheath, the plug separated from the tiny circuit board inside (this was my fault). That meant that I had to solder five micro connections to reattach it. I did the best I could with an oversized soldering iron and no magnifying glass. It now works intermittently, but I still fear that it will melt or catch fire as in many other cases.

What do Dell, Sony, Compaq, IBM, and Apple all have in common? They all have had issues with adapters, except Apple is refusing to recall this one. Apple has recalled them in the past, but not now for some reason. I wonder how many people will have to die before they decide to do the right thing. Actually, they have quietly released an improved adapter as a response to the widespread complaints, but haven't actually recalled any of the old ones. In fact, the original adapter that came with my MacBook Pro shorted and cause black marks on the connecting pins and on the port in my computer. After twisting their arm, Apple replaced both the adapter and the power supply (inside my computer), though I had to send it in twice.

Now, there is the question of proper usage. Apple touted the ability to yank the cord from the MacBook Pro, but many users may have thought it was acceptable to pull out the plug by the cord as standard procedure. It is, of course, not proper usage. However, in efforts to make everything smaller, Apple designed the plug to be very small which makes it relatively hard to grab ahold of to unplug. I have always been very careful with my adapter, but it still failed. So even through normal and correct usage, the adapter is still a failure. Apple needs to redesign it and recall all of the failed ones before someone is seriously injured or killed.

By the way, a new adapter is $79 from the Apple Store. Since Apple has a patent on the plug, no third party substitutes are available. The customer reviews on the adapter are terrible. I left a review today on the Apple Store stating how terrible it is, and it's currently under review for posting. I also thinks it's totally unethical to charge $79 for something that will inevitably self destruct in a short period of time. Apple won't sell just the plug; you have to buy the entire transformer and AC cord. What a wasteful throw-away society we live in. If Apple really wanted to separate themselves from other unethical corporations, they would repair these adapters at little to no charge. I can envision landfills pilling up with millions of these faulty adapters that could have been repaired with a 50¢ plug.

I, for one, will not give Apple my $79. I will be searching ebay for a broken adapter to repair. Also, I will be in contact with Apple demanding a new one. Tomorrow, I will take it to the Apple Service Center in Peoria and demand a replacement.

I also DO NOT recommend leaving it plugged in while you are away or sleeping! I will never again leave mine plugged in, which means that I will have to implement a new alarm clock system. Sadly, I will miss the Alarm Clock program that wakes me up with songs from my iTunes playlist.

Sorry there are no pictures on this post. I'm simply too angry to go take them. Please enjoy the links to other photos that people have been so kind to post.

Bad Apple, Bad...

P.S. To Apple: I will be awaiting my cease and desist letter that you so love to mail out while you sweep these things under the rug.

EDIT: Apparently, Apple is replacing some adapters that melt even after the AppleCare warranty is up (which the adapters weren't covered under anyway). Hopefully, they will provide me a new one tomorrow.

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