The 1½ Star Apple Product

Okay, I lie. That’s for the 65W one, the 85W one I have actually gets 2 stars.

Introducing the Apple MacBook power adapter, possibly the worst rated Apple product around.

Mine has been slowly breaking near the end that connects to the computer for the past month. I’ve now become skilled at what I have to do to get it to work after it’s plugged in (the very technical approach of jiggling) but touching anything in the vicinity the wrong way will cause the charger to stop working again.

It’s been about one and a half years after I bought the Mac, so it definitely shouldn’t be breaking so soon, but that also means that I’m outside of the one year warranty. I didn’t buy AppleCare, because, you know, I live life on the edge. And also because it’s freakishly expensive at $600. Laptops are probably the only thing that I’d consider buying an extended warranty for, but I wouldn’t have chosen a Mac if I thought it would need $600 worth of repairs before it was three years old. Also, we have the Consumer Guarantees Act.

The 15 minute call

So I called Apple. I’d reMacBook Pro with chargerad on an Instructables post that some people had good experiences calling up Apple and receiving a new charger even outside of their warranty period. Their reasoning being because Apple knows the chargers are poorly designed (but nice to look at) they will replace them.

I called Apple, and I think spoke to someone in Australia. Side note: outsourcing is fine by me if it doesn’t interfere with getting stuff done for the customer, which in Apple’s case it kind of does.

The second person I spoke to, in his defence I think he was foreign to Australia, didn’t know much about the geography of New Zealand.

Their list of Christchurch repairers was outdated and I was given Yoobee’s earthquaked Moorhouse Ave location, prompting a humorous response from the rep: “If they’re listed here they should be open. Otherwise it would defeat the purpose of my list.” I can’t imagine a list of Apple stores being outdated.

And according to an Instructables comment, if I was in the USA this could have all been done by courier, or according to Yoobee’s staff, if we actually had Apple stores here in New Zealand (which the international phone reps often assume) I could have just walked in and got a new charger straight away.

I tell the rep what’s wrong with the charger: it’s broken at the moment, when I plug it in sometimes it works but the majority of time it doesn’t and I have to play around with it to get it to work. We go through my serial number (which today I found out has SWAG in it), whether it’s the original charger, the purchase date, my lack of AppleCare and my email address. I get told it’s outside of warranty and some dubious information about incorrect watt adapters blowing up. I bring up the endless one star reviews, he says he’s read them the other day and most are because of blown up chargers[citation needed]. I drop four magic words: the Consumer Guarantees Act, get told I should contact the Ministry of Consumer Affairs and then talk to Apple’s legal team, which seems like it’s probably said to scare people away. I ask to be transferred to their legal team but get told that’s not possible.

[funky hold music]

His supervisor says that it would be inconsiderate (his words) if they provided an exception for me because it would be unfair for people who bought AppleCare (also his words). Guilt trip. He asks if I’m sure it’s the power adapter and when it started happening. He asks if I can bring it into one of their service providers so they can do a full diagnostic, which basically consists of plugging the charger into a computer and scanning the barcode the computer displays when the charger doesn’t work. Once it’s confirmed they’ll look into the possibility of giving me an exception, but he can’t promise me anything, because it would be unfair.

Scene change – Yoobee store

Apple makes them send in the broken charger before they will send out a new one, “That’s the rule they give us”. Apple won’t just take their word that the charger is broken. Having no charger is worse than having one that works intermittently. Yoobee checked if they had any ones they could loan me, but they didn’t. I didn’t ask why they couldn’t just give me one off the shelf, pick your battles and all, you know?

Unsurprisingly they say about broken chargers that “we do deal with these all the time.”


Scene change – the car park

I ring Apple from the car and get the same supervisor. We have a 36 minute conversation which basically consists of me complaining about the ridiculous policy (Apple says it’s Yoobee’s, Yoobee says it’s Apple’s. I side with Yoobee) of not being able to keep a semi-working charger while waiting for the new one and the rep trying to make me feel bad because he gave me an exception to the out of warranty policy for a charger that isn’t even properly broken (like giving away a charger is such a rare event, if the charger wasn’t so poorly designed I wouldn’t need a new one after 18 months, but battles). Apparently the free charger was because their product lasted 12 months so I didn’t need to get anything fixed during my warranty, and not because of known product flaws.

The conversation ends with me inside the store again having a speakerphone conversation with the rep and a Yoobee Apple tech.

I kept the charger. A new one is coming in on Wednesday for me. Also, Yoobee texts you with updates on your case. Technology.

<3 Yoobee. Not so much <3 for Apple.

Image credit: Marcin Wichary

8 thoughts on “The 1½ Star Apple Product

  1. Thanks for writing this. My charger randomly blew up and I your information was very helpful is resolving my situation.

    It’s around 2 years old and in visably perfect condition. I had been charging my computer for around 15 minutes when the charger went off bang with a bright spark, followed by a burnt spell. I immediately unplugged everything and tried to call Apple. The 0800 number for New Zealand is incorrect on the Apple website but I found you can enter your phone number and they will call you – which I did. The pleasant man at the end of the phone said my charger is under warrantee and will be replaced (after first checking that I’m not hurt). I gave him my area code and he seemed to think I was in Adelaide – I’m in Lower Hutt near Wellington, New Zealand. He eventually found 3 options for me to go to in Wellington Central (nothing in Lower Hutt) including Yoobee. He said all I needed to do was take the charger and the Case ID number that had been assigned to me into Yoobee and they would replace it immediately. I went into Yoobee and they had a completely different story. There I was told “Apple don’t really know how we work” – so Mr Yoobee Guy, you and Apple need to sort it out because this is horrific customer service. Firstly he needed my serial number for my computer – even though it had already been entered into the Case that the Case ID referred to. I thought I was going to end up with another hour round trip to get my serial number before I thought I might be able to find it in the email I received from Apple that had my Case ID. After a bit of messing around on my phone I found it. Then I was told I had to wait 2-3 days for it to arrive as they don’t have chargers in the store. I suggested they send it to me, but they wanted to charge me for the courier – no thanks. So far the whole process was a bit crap, but could have been worse as I will eventually end up with a replacement charger. My recommendation would be to try one of the non-Yoobee stores. They shouldn’t be an official Apple reseller if they can’t work with Apple systems.

  2. There’s a little more to it than just taking one off the shelf, yoobee is not apple, and technology breaks unfortunately. :/ when it breaks you hope it has cover but if it doesn’t, your kind of at fault, consumer gaurantees act covers you for dodgy stuff but not disagreements about agreements, just a few things I’ve found from the other side of the table. No biggy just wanted to say

    1. I was surprised at the ratings and reviews because you’d think a clear issue with a product would be solved quickly by a company like Apple. But apparently they’re fine taking people’s money for replacement chargers.

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