Apple Offers Cash To Powerbook, iBook Owners With Defective Power Adapters

Apple has agreed to settle a class action lawsuit prompted by PowerBook and iBook power adapters that could fray, break, or dazzle the eyes with spectacular bursts of dangerous sparks. Anyone whose power adapter failed within three years of purchase and then bought a replacement adapter is a part of the settlement.

Apple originally agreed to settle the suit early this year, but recently expanded the number of eligible models. Class members are eligible for the following payback:

Purchase Year Cash Payment
Year 1 Actual amount paid for the replacement adapter, up to $79
Year 2 $40
Year 3 $25

For adapters purchased before October 14, 2008, fill out and submit your claim form by February 11, 2009. For replacement adapters purchased after October 14, 2008, submit your claims within 120 days of the purchase, or by May 31, 2009; whichever is earlier.

More details are available on the class action’s website.

Gordon v. Apple Computer, Inc.
Apple settles class-action suit over faulty notebook adapters [AppleInsider]
(Photo: Educational Technology Blog)

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  1. Stupid question, but does this cover Macbook Pros? This is exactly what happened to my roommate’s Macbook Pro power adapter. Looks the same as the above adapter too.

  2. allthoseships says:

    i had this same problem with my Macbook Pro adapter, but when i took it to the Apple store they just gave me a new one. twice.

  3. Do you have to have the receipt, because I think I threw mine away. And for some strange reason, I STILL have the frayed power adapter that burned my hand and almost caught my kitchen on fire.

    • grumpygirl says:

      @defeatism:
      The website says you need a receipt. As if I kept a receipt from such a small object for 3 years… I bought it from a smallish company so i guess I’ll see if they can print me out a duplicate.

    • TVarmy says:

      @defeatism: Would they take the PDFs of the reciept Apple emails their customers? I bought a MacBook Pro with them, and some people say the MagSafe cords from the time when I bought it frayed as well. If a similar lawsuit takes place, I want to be sure I’m covered. Granted, I’m pretty sure my mom who helped me buy it kept the printed receipt in her files.

  4. equazcion says:

    Dell should offer the same. Although I’m not sure if their power adapters have caused fires and electrocution, they do tend to just stop working, due to similar cheap construction where the wire meets the housing.

    • NotYou007 says:

      @equazcion:

      I do warranty repairs for Dell and while the connectors do tend to fray and expose the wires at times I’m not aware of any type of fire harzard resulting from this and as long as your laptop is still under warranty Dell will glady send you a replacement.

      • equazcion says:

        @NotYou007: Warranties don’t make up for crappy construction. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect my equipment to last longer than the year warranty Dell includes.

        • NotYou007 says:

          @equazcion:

          If you purchase any laptop and do not purchase the extended warranty you are crazy for not doing so. Dell offers complete care which will cover anything you do to the system. You could run over it with your car on purpose, tell them you did so and they would fix it.

          Yes the construction/design is crappy. I won’t disagree with that but you should have purchased a 3 or 4 year warranty.

          • equazcion says:

            @NotYou007: “you should have purchased a 3 or 4 year warranty”

            Right, either that or go with a different brand. Which is what I generally do now.

            I don’t buy extended warranties in anticipation of the product failing. That’s tantamount to saying people should need to pay Dell more money for constructing its products so poorly.

            Cheap out on your products and pass the expense on to me? I don’t think so.

      • The_IT_Crone says:

        @NotYou007: Wait. You do “warranty support” and don’t know that exposed/damaged wires can be a fire hazard? :/ Particularly with Dell’s new supercharging power adapters.

        I do warranty support as well, and some of the adapters tend to SPARK and make SNAPPING sounds- often accompanied by a burning smell.

        Oh yeah. No hazard there, move along.

  5. comatoseone says:

    Actually for me, it happened where the adapter connects to the powerbook. Got rather shreddie and not that reliable looking. The Magsafe for my two year old Macbook seemed to work better because of the magnet. However this past summer, I did meet a fellow Macbook user who had the sparking and shredding on the magsafe adapter. He ended up borrowing my power chord to charge his battery.

  6. nicemarmot617 says:

    Actually the same thing happened to my BF’s HP. Twice. He eventually just bought a new computer because HP refused to replace the continuously breaking/fire hazarding adapters.

    What do you want to bet the same manufacturer is responsible for the part in all of them?

    • dweebster says:

      @undefined: Ugh, HP. Never will I buy another one.

      Solution: drop by their HQ with your laptop, plug it in and start using it. It can’t be arson if the manufacturer seems to certify everything’s A-OK with that power adapter.

  7. It very crappy for Apple to prorate the payment.

    When my Canon S1 broke and it was out of warranty for three years, they gave me a Canon PowerShot S5 IS free of charge.

    That is some GOOD customer service.

    • dweebster says:

      @Tian: That’s damn *outstanding* customer service. I’ve only purchased Canon cameras for years, never had to deal with their customer service but good to know they went out of their way for you.

      Then again, maybe they went that far for you because their products are so RELIABLE that it’s rare they hear from a customer and have a policy of making things right. Companies such as HP couldn’t even afford to replace defective power adapters – probably because they are ALL defective.

      If you build a decent product UP front you don’t have to waste much money fending off customers bothering you about your defective garbage when it fails.

  8. "I Like Potatoes" says:

    This exact same thing happened to my ibook power adapter about a year and a half ago but I called Apple about it and they sent me a replacement adapter, no hassles. I purchased the three year apple care plan – maybe that has something to do with it? Anyway….since I didn’t pay for it I don’t have to get in on the class action.

  9. VA_White says:

    Mine did that. Sparks and a whiff of something electrical. They covered it under warranty so I don’t think I can snag a free one.

  10. manhattan says:

    What a coincident! My charger actually just started ripping apart. And also the magnetic piece in the connector has loosened up. Seems like it will come out any day now. Thanks Apple for finally accepting that the Powerbook adapters have a fault!

  11. youbastid says:

    This is annoying – you have to have bought an Apple replacement adapter to qualify. Mine crapped out on my within 2 years, but instead of buying an Apple replacement adapter (I didn’t want to spend $79 so it could crap out again), I bought a 3rd party adapter. I think I should still be entitled to something since I was affected by the same problem with the original adapter. Lousy.

    • Ozyman says:

      @youbastid: I’m in the same boat you are. I bought a 3rd party adapter because the apple ones cost twice as much. I didn’t see anything on the website that made me think you had to have bought a Mac branded power adapter. Where did you see that?

  12. fisherstudios says:

    This happened to my Powerbook G4 power adapter cable. I was absolutely stunned when I noticed the cable (where it meets the adapter ‘nozzle’ itself, just as pictured in the picture) both sparking and emitting a small puff of smoke.

    I was forced to go and buy a replacement but the apple.com store has them on sale for a ridiculous price, so I instead purchased a NewerTechnology 65 watt Powerbook AC Adapter.

    That adpapter crapped out within a year but I did not keep my receipt either even though it came with a long warranty. This time, I kept my receipt.

    The only thing is that I did not BUY my G4 Powerbook per se, as it came with the BCIT web design course I purchased back in 2004. Would my proof of payment for my tuition be sufficient for Apple to reimburse me for the power adapter I bought?

  13. fisherstudios says:

    Drat, I am not a United States resident so I am unable to participate.

  14. 4ster says:

    I have a 1.5 year old white Macbook, and my power adapter makes a bzzzzt-crackle noise when I plug it in, but only when I’m using the little two-prong plug and not the longer 3-pronged one.

    It seems like the problem is that something is making contact inside the adapter that shouldn’t be, because it doesn’t make the noise when I’m very careful and plug it in perfectly straight. However, if it gets plugged in crooked, it makes the noise.

    Anyone else had this?

    • VA_White says:

      @4ster: This is a failure of your duckhead. You can get a replacement duckhead. The Apple Genius told me that if I’m at home, I should be using the longer 3-prong cord and should only use the power adapter with the duckhead when I’m traveling and I don’t want to schlep the long cord with me.

    • FDCPAGuy says:

      @4ster:
      This was happening to my adapter and it was actually the cable right after the brick and after the strain relief shorting out, heating up, and slowly melting. I didn’t notice it until it started smoking. My first call to apple had them saying take it to a service provider which I did. Then when I got there the GSX system they use to log recalls was denying the replacement and they needed a CS code. Right in the lobby I call and explain the situation with the KBase number [support.apple.com] and now all of a sudden I get to tier 2 support. They turn around and dispatch me a replacement (yes after I already just bought a replacement). So now it looks like I will have 2 power bricks. Moral of the story… Call Apple and tell them about the issue and mention the kbase article.

    • 4ster says:

      @4ster: Thanks guys. I replaced my duckhead yesterday, and all is good.

  15. Snockered says:

    Maybe it’s just because I’m bad at the internet, but I couldn’t find the answer to my question on the website:

    I had to replace mine twice, both times because the adapter wires started fraying, sparking and smoking. Can I send in two claims?

  16. J_Sensei says:

    Between my wife and me, we had three powerbooks, all of which had failed adapters. None of ours failed in the method from the picture. Ours all died at the point of attachment to the computer. Between us, we went through five adapters.

    But we no longer have those computers. We’ve moved on to a MacBook and a MacBook Pro, and I’m ready to move up again. Is there any way to recover those serials if you no longer have the computers?

    • @J_Sensei:

      if you happen to have the receipts from when you bought the computers, it would be on that. you could also try your CC company to get a copy of the receipt as well. Also, if you ever called applecare they may be able to cross-reference your info

  17. Damn, I had a powerbook 1400 that had a horrible power adapter. It was a small diameter tip, and where it met the cord, it was literally 4x as large as the tip. Needless to say it broke/cracked off when any sort of side pressure was applied to it. I’d apply for this, but I have long since lost the receipt, and someone stole the laptop anyway. The replacement I got, a 5400, had the adapter tip, and a collar around that which was great.

  18. VeiledThreats says:

    I went through my original adapter, which frayed but just stopped charging, didn’t spark or anything, and then a second used one of the same I purchased off ebay which *was* solid, but later frayed and DID spark and smoke. I bought a third party one after that. I downloaded the claim form, you don’t need a receipt for your replacement, only have to swear under penalty of perjury that you did have to buy a new one because yours failed.

  19. unoriginal says:

    It stinks that you had to buy a replacement in order to file a claim. I remember a few years ago when Apple was hit with another class action for problems with the round hockey puck shaped power adapters that came with my Powerbook G3. I got a free adapter out of that lawsuit, I don’t understand why the terms aren’t the same this time around.

  20. dethl says:

    When I worked as a Tech Support Rep for Apple (Portables division) I would immediately replace any power adapters that even hinted at being a safety issue, even if out of warranty (I would go to Tier 2 and hand the case over to them).

    • "I Like Potatoes" says:

      @dethl:
      I’ve heard people say that the original warranty doesn’t cover that part, but when I called and told them it was smoking, they gladly replaced it. Do you think that people haven’t tried to call and have it replaced and just assumed that it wasn’t covered?

  21. godlyfrog says:

    Someone I know lost his house and all its contents, including his dog, to a faulty adapter earlier this year. Somehow I don’t think he’ll be consoled by a $79 replacement offer.

    • newyorkcity says:

      @godlyfrog: Oh my. That is very sad to hear. I hope all is well…

      It’s sad to see them compensate so little when these chargers can cost people so much more due to their malfunction. They should be held accountable for the safety of their users.

    • mxjohnson says:

      I went through a couple iBook adapters. I’ve never had the same sort of trouble with any other laptop, so I know it wasn’t me. And they redesigned it with a thicker cable and that seemed to fix the problem.

      @algal924: When I called AppleCare the first time, they at first said they wouldn’t replace it. I had to argue and ask to be escalated. Eventually, they agreed to replace it “just this once, and we won’t do it again, and don’t tell people we did it because we’re bending the policy for you.” So I’m sure people were denied a replacement.

  22. "I Like Potatoes" says:

    Why hasn’t this become a recall yet? Seems to me that there are plenty of people out there with this fire hazard in their homes!

  23. Landru says:

    They exchanged mine for free without hassle, but I have applecare.

  24. as a portable rep/tech I see this stuff a lot, and I have to say that although I feel for the end user, it is almost always user error that causes what you see. Instead giving the cable some “lag” (leaving a little loop) before winding it around the hooks, people instead pull it super tight which causes a great deal of stress on a very vulnerable part of the charger.

    Apple had the same design for the first gen MB/MBP charger, but has since reinforced where the cable and charger meet (extra, thicker cable/rubber) at the beginning of 2008 or so.

  25. BiZarRroBALlmeR says:

    yea, but were your eyes dazzled?

  26. geckospots says:

    This *just* happened to the original adapter from my 5-year-old Powerbook in August. :P First it stopped charging properly, then the wire frayed and melted. I’m just glad it didn’t damage the computer itself when it went.

    It was bad design in the first place, and I’m disappointed that Apple is going to prorate the settlement – adapters haven’t changed in price much over the last three years, so why should the customer get less money to replace the part? :P

  27. Petra says:

    This covers Macbooks as well. My sister called me last week on Monday because her adapter for her Macbook had melted and would no longer work, and her machine was over a year out of warranty. She was upset because she did not want to buy an $80 replacement for something that wasn’t her fault just because the warranty was up. I told her to give Apple a call. They asked for her serial number, apologized immidiately, and told her they’d send her a replacement in the mail. They didn’t even ask for the old one back. Her power adapter showed up in the mail only two days later :)

  28. DreamTheEndless: Death's little brother says:

    I’m on my third power adapter for my macbook pro. I bought applecare, so all I had to do was go into a store and argue a little bit about it to get one for free.

    Of course, both times I had to replace one, the “geniuses” acted like it broke because of something I was doing wrong….

  29. RoryHaermm says:

    Does anyone know if there is an equivalent class-action lawsuit for Canadian mac users? This happened to my gf’s laptop, but we’re excluded from this lawsuit (…you know, the whole jurisdiction thing)

  30. TaliaNangerini says:

    dell support rep here….it doesn’t matter if your warranty is out. if your AC wires are frayed, everyone in my call center has the same policy: replace it on fail. happens all the time, and we will replace them, warranty or no warranty, as long as it’s ‘frayed, torn or exposed’.

  31. Anonymous says:

    My one-year-old macbook seems to have a problem with the longer cord adaptor getting too hot. I had the first one replaced at the Apple store shortly after I bought the computer. It gets so hot that I can burn my hand on it. I don’t see the macbook on the settlement list, but does anyone else seem to have the same problem?