Why is Apple assuming my outlet isn't grounded? And isn't this a capricious warranty?
August 19, 2004 12:53 PM   Subscribe

So I have an iBook G4, and the power cord has two components -- the cord itself, one end of which connects to the computer and the other end of which connects to the transformer, and a detachable piece that contains the two prongs that actually interface with my power outlet. The power cord has been failing to maintain a connection with the wall so I ordered a new one, under warrantly. They only sent the transformer piece, meaning I had to reattach my old pronged piece and, lo and behold: Still not working. [more inside]

I swapped in the pronged piece from the iPod, which has the same basic adapter, and it worked instantaneously. When I inspected the non-functional pronged piece, I saw it had patches of that grimy blackness that I associate with electrical sparking. So I call Apple to have them send me a new one, and: It's not under warranty. The argument they basically make is that my outlet isn't grounded, and so the problem is mine. Two questions:

1. On what grounds are they assuming my outlet isn't grounded? I mean, my house is ancient, and so it may not be grounded, and this may be something I have to look into if I'm going to continue to use the computer. What would grounding have to do with this particular problem? If it is my outlet and I don't fix it, do I risk running through one of these pieces every six months and/or burning down the house?

2. Have you ever heard of such a capricious warranty?
posted by blueshammer to Computers & Internet (7 answers total)
If you're using the pronged piece with two flip-up blades -- the "travel" plug -- instead of the full, three pronged grounded cable, then strictly speaking it's true: it's not grounded. On the other hand, it can never be grounded with only two blades, so the outlet grounding has no effect one way or the other and it shouldn't matter.

I'd talk to them again to see if making them understand the problem will cause them to change their mind. Note that I've found Apple to be very odd (as in, completely out of line with the rest of the industry) about what they do and do not cover under warranty and there's a certain chance you're screwed no matter what.

None of the above applies particularly if you're not in the US and use have weird foreigner power.
posted by majick at 1:14 PM on August 19, 2004

Your power adapter should have come with a short little plastic piece for plugging right into the wall, and a longer cord so you can get more distance. Why not just use the longer cord?
posted by bcwinters at 1:53 PM on August 19, 2004

I have the same problem, but I found that if the two blades were not in their upright locked position, the cable would run the machine but would not allow it to actually charge - that is, the battery would not run down, but it wouldn't charge either. As soon as I locked the blades into place and re-plugged-in the power transformer thingy, it would charge as I used it. Bizarre.
posted by luriete at 4:43 PM on August 19, 2004

When I inspected the non-functional pronged piece, I saw it had patches of that grimy blackness that I associate with electrical sparking.

That black stuff (carbonization?) can often be removed with a pencil eraser, or some *extremely* fine (300 grit or finer) sandpaper. The pink erasers (either at the end of the pencil, or as a hand-held eraser) work best. I don't think the white/plastic erasers are abrasive enough to do anything.
posted by Kwantsar at 7:43 PM on August 19, 2004

My travel plug self-destructed. Can they be ordered individually?
posted by mecran01 at 9:21 PM on August 19, 2004

The World Travel Adapter Kit also includes North America, but costs $39. Try an Apple Store, they may be able to sell you just the NA plug.
posted by Kwantsar at 5:32 AM on August 20, 2004

Response by poster: You can order the plug from Apple for only $9. But I still don't see why it's not under warranty.
posted by blueshammer at 6:00 AM on August 20, 2004

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