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Apple sued over MagSafe adapter safety issues

updated 09:55 pm EDT, Tue May 5, 2009

Apple sued over MagSafe

Apple is the target of yet another lawsuit, as a joint complaint accuses the company of distributing unsafe MagSafe power adapters and forcing customers to buy replacements instead of addressing the problem with an improved design, according to AppleInsider. The plaintiffs, including Tim Broad, Jesse Reisman and Naotaka Kitagawa, claim the cables inevitably break down, leading to wire fraying that causes a potential fire hazard.

The filing argues that standard use, such as winding the cable around the guides, is all that is needed to damage the adapter. Broad claims the plastic covering melted, exposing the wires and building enough heat to start a house fire. "It almost burned my hand when I brushed it accidentally," he claims.

The plaintiffs assert Apple has failed to act on a widespread problem, directing customers to Apple service locations just to recommend a second purchase of a new adapter. The lawyers seek class action status, as the issues are known to be experienced by "at least thousands" of customers and possibly into the hundreds of thousands.

Apple is also charged with violating California's business codes and breaching the explicit and implied warranties for its devices. The plaintiffs are asking for refunds to cover any associated cost, along with punitive damages and a public warning issues by the company.

[Image courtesy of Flickr member AriXr]

by MacNN Staff



  1. MyRightEye

    Joined: Dec 1969



    This is one issue I must agree with... And unfortunately for Apple, a lawsuit is often the only way to get them to respond.

  1. A grain of salt

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Apple do replace Magsafe adaptors for free. They announced it months ago. In fact I had my frayed Magsafe replaced, for free, over a year ago; well before it was announced. I think if people spent less time speaking to lawyers and more time speaking with Apple, many of these lawsuits would never happen.

  1. Roehlstation

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Take a look the condition of that is it I have AC Adapters that are 6 years old and they don't look chewed on? This one has a number of nicks on the cable and chips on the plug itself.

  1. Paul Huang

    Joined: Dec 1969



    For those 'ears' to be functional, Apple should make the DC side detachable.

    Apple still has the 'just say no' policy on the adapter—as they way they do with the cracking MacBook case (not the splintering palm rest, but the bottom case), unless you report smoke, spark, and charring of the power cable.

  1. paulgunn

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Fat fingers

    Even with my fat fingers I know enough to unplug it at the base and not yank it out by the cord. A little patience and common sense goes a long ways.

  1. Paul Huang

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Do not use...

    Do not use fingers to grab it. Use ONE finger to press down, so the connector separates, then use the other finger (or fingers) to grab it.

    Nevertheless, it's a flawed design—almost six years in the making. One of the major problem was addressed with the MacBook Air adapter MagSafe connector.

  1. jmonty12

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Unplug at the base?

    I don't think that this plug is designed to remove it by holding it from the base. That part is small and smooth, making it hard to grasp. Rather I think that the intention was to pull it from the main wire, as this is also a feature of the MagSafe in the first place -- that pulling out the power in such a fashion would not hurt the MagSafe connector nor the computer itself.

    I really appreciate that Apple has tried to solve the problem of ruined adapters (or power ports) due to accidental yanking on the plug. They made the MagSafe as an improvement over the old connector, not as a cost reduction. Seems like all they get for this attempt to improve things is complaints and lawsuits.

    And I also suspect that the MagSafe is no less safe than the older connector (or any power connector, for that matter.) When you build hundreds of thousands of something there will always be some that fail. Until we hear that this new MagSafe has more failures than other connectors I think all of this is just blowing smoke with some lawyers thrown in.

  1. Makosuke

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Mine's Fixed...

    Though the Air design is an obvious improvement overall, I'm pretty sure they got this worked out in the second generation after all those failures.

    I say that because my 1st gen 17" MBP had the cord fray near the strain relief to the point it actually changed colors and got hot enough to burn my fingers when I realized what was happening and yanked it out. The Genius Bar immediately replaced it, no questions asked, with a newer one that has a larger bit of strain relief jacketing...

    ...and well over two years of abusing the thing later, it's still absolutely fine. It's served its proper purpose when people have tripped/stepped on the cord several dozen times now, and I'm not at all careful with the thing (and it's ALWAYS plugged in and on my lap, 4 hours per day, so it's getting about as much downward strain as is possible from the cord hanging down).

    Point being the early design was flawed. The interim was a huge improvement, and acceptably durable. The new one is better.

  1. smezjj

    Joined: Dec 1969


    I agree...

    I had a similar thing happen to mine, but at the "power brick" (square) end where the cable holders flip out of the brick. I needed the computer back up and running so rather than hassle with Apple I just bought a replacement on eBay. I am not much for lawsuits in most cases, but this is definitely one I would throw my hat in on.

  1. medelegant

    Joined: Dec 1969


    MagSafe both ends

    Paul Huang said "For those 'ears' to be functional, Apple should make the DC side detachable." and there are numerous negative votes but I think he has a useful idea.

    I would like Apple to make the cable MagSafe ant BOTH ends. I suspect Jonny Ives could come up with an even more elegant wrapping solution for the cable, and it would make the cable that much easier to replace if it does get frayed, kinked or otherwise damaged. Apple or third parties could offer longer or shorter cables.

    It would also be a greener solution... fewer power supplies being turfed when a connector replacement is really all that is required.

    The cell phone industry is starting to move to a universal charger.. I think it is time Apple did so too.

    Psst: Apple.. if you implement my idea for dual ending the MagSafe line, I would like to have 2 cents for each unit you build. (third party vendors... I would like 25 cents per unit you sell)

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