Apple power brick sparks lawsuit
A trio of plaintiffs has filed a class action suit against Apple, charging that although the company's much-touted MagSafe Adapter may be mag(netic), safe it ain't.
The complaint, filed in the US District Court in San José - a stone's throw from Apple's Cupertino campus - alleges that both the 85 watt (for the MacBook Pro) and 60 watt (for the MacBook) MagSafe Adapters have been negligently designed and manufactured. The cable to the power supply's connector, according to the suit, "dangerously frays, sparks, and prematurely fails to work."
The filing states that Apple is aware of the problem, but hasn't disclosed the Adapters' problems nor stopped manufacturing the little white bricks. As a result, the plaintiff and the class of MagSafe owners - which the filing states "likely number in the millions" - are stuck with "flawed and dangerous Adapters which prematurely fail and present fire hazards."
Apple, for its part, made the MagSafe one of the featured, um, features of the MacBook Pro when it introduced that laptop in January 2006. At the time, the company said: "The MagSafe power connector safely disconnects from the notebook when there is strain on the power cord, helping to prevent the notebook from falling off its work surface when the power cord is inadvertently yanked."
However, according to the three plaintiffs - Naotaka Kitagawa, Timothy Broad, and Jesse Reisman - even normal use of the adapter results in dangerous damage to its cord where it attaches to the magnetic plug.
Kitagawa claims that his MacBook Pro's adapter would cut power intermittently and that the connector then became frayed and the jacket over the wiring showed signs of melting and discoloration from heat.
Broad said that when he noticed that the cable was overheating, he'd been using his MacBook for 14 months and a day. "It almost burned my hand when I brushed it accidentally," he claims. As he watched, the cable began to melt, creating "a large hole in the cable." Fortunately, his Adapter shorted out and stopped working before, as he put it, his home "might have caught fire."
Reisman's experience was more mellow. He merely says that his Adapter became "noticeably hot" and developed exposed wires.
The plaintiffs also contend that the way that the cable is designed to wrap around the Adapter and clamp onto itself for neatness and security "causes undue stress, wear, and degradation."
They also point out that Apple has known about the Adapters' problems for nearly three years, but has done nothing about them. According to the complaint, over 1,000 reviews of the Adapter have been posted to Apple's online store, with the "vast majority" being "extremely negative, warning Apple over and over again about the hazards of the MagSafe Adapter." The filing then goes on to quote 21 of the most negative reviews.
The plaintiffs ask that the court order Apple to either provide a "safe, defect-free Adapter" - or refund the full purchase price of their laptops if Apple can't produce an acceptable unit - to all members of the aggrieved class. That would be anyone who owns a MacBook or MacBook Pro - oddly, the suit doesn't mention the essentially identical 45 watt Adapter for the MacBook Air. Perhaps it hasn't been around long enough to become suitably stressed out.
We've been down this road before. Back in 2001, Apple recalled and replaced 570,000 power adapters for the PowerBook G3. Then in May of last year, Apple reached a cash settlement with owners of what one Reg wag referred to as "Sparky the wonder adapter."
We're not mechanical nor electrical engineers, but is it that hard for the wizards of Cupertino to design and manufacture a laptop power adapter that doesn't come back and bite them in the legal bum?
It appears that it is. ®
Apple *does* help consumers
Apple may have a way to sweep things under the mat sometimes, but they, at least, stand up to their mistakes right away when the issues are brought forward. When the MagSafe originally went sour, Apple responded and allowed people to not only take care of the adapters, but also the batteries when they've failed. Apple, to this day, will STILL deal with their batteries in their MBP models should they fail. I, for one, had an issue where the battery literally almost exploded and forced the components to be pushed up due to the swelling of the battery, and I had already replaced the battery through their previous recall. The Apple Store gladly evaluated the issue as their problem, took in my MBP, replaced the top case and trackpad, new battery, and even offered a new keyboard should it still need replacing. Surely, I do have AppleCare on the unit as well, but it was fixed outside of the scope of that warranty. Fact remains, you will get taken care of should you have an Apple-related issue that is known and being monitored.
Apple has, to-date, replaced four MagSafe adapters and five batteries amongst the four machines in my family without issue or lack of quality in the replacement parts. And, I'm sure, if something more comes down with Apple being negligent for some reason, Apple will suck in their guts, stick out their chests, and ensure that the next run is, indeed, safer, better, and conforms to what "the people want."
The cost is much worst than the potential burn-risk!
I bought a spare for work, because I'd heard from friends and sites that the cable frays and becomes a fire risk when constantly wrapping... it's been over a year and they are both doing fine, but I never leave it charging without me in the room, and I constantly worry about leaving it on surfaces where there is slight pressure on the mag connector.... I'd prefer the trip-risk than paying £60 for a white fragile power connector that I worry quite a bit over though!
Smug mode off
I first read this story at luchtime and was thinking about how mine had been fine for a year. Well I'm on battery power now at home because mine's just burnt out. Now where's my local Apple dealership?
Oh Me Gosh
I'd take a guess that that design, via artist on a Mac Book Pro, was rejected by many Chinese manufacturers on the basis that it is shit before they found out about 'street manufacture'
That will be a successful Class Action then.
I have a suggestion - why not have someone come up with facts rather than speculation?
Hardware fails. Period. It doesn't matter if it's Apple or Dell or Ferrari or Hyundai. It happens. Before starting into the "Apple is evil" or "I never had a problem" back and forth, how about some evidence that Apple's power supply failure rate is greater than, less than, or the same as the industry average.
It IS known that when you look at overall failure rates, Apple is better than the industry average (from various surveys done over the years). Until someone finds some evidence that Apple's power supply failure rate is significantly greater than the industry average, there's no story here.
Oh, and the real story is that even though hardware does fail, it takes a true moron to plug in a power supply with obviously frayed wires. Just a little more stupidity and these people will be eligible for a Darwin Award.