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Their list of Christchurch repairers was outdated and I was given Yoobee’s earthquaked Moorhouse Ave location, prompting a humorous response from the rep: “If they’re listed here they should be open.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 I can’t imagine a list of Apple stores being outdated.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