Fighting the Good Fight
November 27, 2005 9:28 PM   Subscribe

Help me make Apple replace my adapter.

Recently, the power adapter for my 14" iBook broke; the tip of the male end broke off (not inside the computer, luckily) and rendered the whole charger unusable. I've already ordered a Macally replacement, but I'd like Apple to replace this thing as well. I took it to the Apple store and the guy told me that the one year warranty/Applecare (both of which I am covered under) considers this to be caused by "abnormal" damage, in other words, had I been using it correctly, it wouldn't have broken. Obviously, I disagree. I've used the plastic cap, I've wound this up carefully when not in use, and when it travels, it goes in the neoprene sleeve that came with my laptop case.

So what can I do? Who can I call? Can I talk to the manager of the store? What are my options? Input from people who have been in similar situations is welcome.
posted by rossination to Computers & Internet (14 answers total)
No answer for ya, but I will be anxiously awaiting one, because I am in EXACTLY the same spot as you.
posted by shanevsevil at 9:39 PM on November 27, 2005

I was in a similar, not identical, situation -- which is to say, I broke mine by accidentally stepping on it. I had to buy a new one. I've used three, and I've found them to be sturdy products which withstand a decent amount of abuse (including other instances of being stepped on!).

I don't question your word, if you say the piece broke on its own; but I guess I'm saying, I understand why the Apple employees are going to view your story with reasonable skepticism, and ultimately I think you're going to have to pay for the new part.

But sure: try talking to a store manager. Try calling AppleCare. Finally, try mailing Apple a polite, stern letter. In customer relations, the ruling principle is usually that the squeaky wheel gets the grease -- which is to say, you can get almost anything if you push far enough. Just remember that the term is "polite pest," and both words are equally important.
posted by cribcage at 9:39 PM on November 27, 2005

unfortunately, nothing on the apple end as it's a user error and therefore not covered by apple's plans, etc., although I did see this recently...

fix a broken power adaptor tip yourself from the unofficial apple weblog. i've not done it myself.

btw, if the little doohickey breaks inside the jack, it falls out quite easily, so you don't have to worry about it being stuck.
posted by missed at 9:55 PM on November 27, 2005

Call AppleCare and ask to speak to Customer Relations. Be polite and explain that you are not responsible for the broken charger, but that your attempt to replace the charger under warranty was not honored. Quote the call ticket number given to you by the first technician. Politely request a replacement under warranty. If refused, politely request to speak to a supervisor. Politely repeat your request with the supervisor.
posted by Rothko at 9:58 PM on November 27, 2005

I recently had a bad iBook screen replaced after being told the problem was improper use on my end. I disagreed with them, albeit politely, and it was replaced at no charge.

They claimed I was applying undue pressure to the machine while it was closed, perhaps by carrying it around in my backpack. I pointed out that the iBook was marketed and sold for exactly this type of use, and that I took the additional precaution of keeping it in a case.

When I got it back from Apple, I discovered that they'd not only replaced the screen, they'd also put in a new keyboard (a few of the letters had worn off on the old one).

The difference between your case and mine, however, is that those power connectors are likely broken all the time. My case was unusual enough that they were willing to give me the benefit of the doubt without too much complaint on my end. But if you're certain you received a bad adapter, you should keep making your case. I suspect they'll come around eventually. Pissing off a customer who has invested in a relatively expensive computer isn't in their best interest. Good luck!
posted by aladfar at 10:49 PM on November 27, 2005

I can't believe you use that plastic cap. Who uses the plastic cap? I lost that within the first 3 minutes of use.

Of course my powerbook has two big dings on it too. So maybe my quality of care is a little sub-standard.
posted by Dag Maggot at 10:55 PM on November 27, 2005

It might help to point out that at Apple's online store, the replacement adapters have a rating of one and a half stars out of 253 reviews.
posted by dmo at 2:30 AM on November 28, 2005

This won't help you, but maybe it'l inspire you to keep trying. In the past year, I've had a new iPod, two new sets of iPod earphones, and a new iBook battery from apple. All for free, and neither the iBook or iPod were under warranty at the time. It's just a matter of perseverence.
posted by ascullion at 4:33 AM on November 28, 2005

btw, if the little doohickey breaks inside the jack, it falls out quite easily, so you don't have to worry about it being stuck.

Um, not true. At least, not always. The little plug thingy broke off inside my Powerbook earlier this year (my wife stepped on the power cord) and it did NOT come out. Unfortunately, I made the problem worse by trying to fish it out with a paperclip, and ended up forcing it further in beyond reach.

The Powerbook would no longer charge after that. I called Apple and explained what happened, and they said it was NOT covered by Applecare (even though the computer was only about 5 months old). After all, I broke it right? Then, they quoted $900 to replace the power unit inside the laptop.

Not wanting to pay the $900, I emailed a few of the online powerbook repair places and they fixed it for like $100. I didn't notice at the time that they place was NOT an authorized Apple repair center...

I was happy until about 2 months after I got the machine back from the repair place the keyboard and mouse stopped working. I took it to the Apple Store, and they opened the machine to find the keyboard connector thingy on the logic board had been broken and was held in place (sort of) by a piece of yellow tape. Apparently the repair shop had broken it. The cost to replace the logic board? $900.

The story has a happy ending though. I sent the machine to Apple to repair, hoping they would cover it under warranty. I got a call from a guy at the Apple repair center. He was like, "Who has been working on this machine? It's all messed up inside, screws are missing." So I explained the whole situation, starting with the broken power adapter, and how I sent it to the repair shop because Apple quoted over $900 to fix the adapter problem, etc. The guy ended up taking pity on me and said he was making an exception and would cover the logic board repairs under warranty. I got the machine back in two days and found it to have been completely rebuilt-- it felt better than new.

That's my bittersweet Apple repair story.
posted by GregW at 6:23 AM on November 28, 2005

Ha. The screen on my iBook is bad and I've had two power cords go bad on me. The first power cord problem occurred under warranty, so they replaced it no problem. The other two problems occurred outside of warranty. When I went in to complain about each (on different dates), I was given the "you're treating your equipment poorly" spiel, which cracks me up.

I'm no anal-retentive super careful guy, but I'm not rough either. This is an expensive machine, and I treat it as such. I have no children, and my wife rarely uses the iBook. Obviously I'm doing something wrong if I've damaged two power cords, but I can't imagine what it might be. Since I've seen other people with similar mangled cords, I suspect the problem is with the design, not with my use. As for the screen: there's now way in hell I caused that problem. I open the iBook and I close it. That's it. Nothing abnormal has ever occurred, and yet if I try to close the screen beyond a certain point, it goes black. So, to use it, I have to keep the thing wide open, which sucks when I'm surfing the net at night in bed and my wife's asleep.

Apple makes keen products, but I'm not convinced they're of high quality.
posted by jdroth at 8:34 AM on November 28, 2005

jdroth...that is a known issue with some sn# g3 based ibooks if yrs falls in the sn range, take it to a apple store or apple authorized repair center, and they will send it off, replace the logic board on apple's coin. best of luck
posted by ShawnString at 8:48 AM on November 28, 2005

We are on our third power adapter. In our case it was the wire fraying/breaking both times just above the plug itself.

My wife got them replaced at no charge by going to the right shop. Both times here in Portland Oregon, CompUSA wanted to charge us, claiming AppleCare didn't cover it, and "The Mac Store" replaced it for free under AppleCare.

Simple advice, shop around and have someone good at evoking pity do the shopping. It isn't fair, as this is obviously a design flaw, but it does work.
posted by Invoke at 9:20 AM on November 28, 2005

I've had the same problem as Invoke with my powerbook adaptor and the apple store has replaced it all three times. You just have to talk to the right (nicest) person, be polite but firm, and assure them you haven't abused it.
posted by booknerd at 9:35 AM on November 28, 2005

I have an iBook where the tip broke off of the power adapter. When I was removing it from the laptop. Went to the apple store and the 1st thing they said before asking me any questions at all was, " it's not covered, sorry." Cannot even say sparks or smoke. I was very polite from the begining but there were no nice people....if You can even find anyone to help you...Even if you play the role of the pity party. Sorry.... Apple has proven themselves useless.....just like their equipment. Even their employee's are useless. Today I was at Mission Mall in Mission Viejo, California. The so-called manager stated, in front of me and my daughter, that I shouldnt throw laptops around and drop them onto the floor. Talking down to me like I was a child. I have an IT career. I deserved better than that. I payed big money for the laptop and the AppleCare that I thought had some use. But once again.....useless. There is no simple advice guys. Apple is good at screwing you.....plain and simple....With this many adapters going bad you would think something would be done. But nothing happens cause that's money going out of their pockets. So screw the customer...who else? No wisecracks, just the sad truth........
posted by toddscott at 10:49 PM on May 24, 2006

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