Following the electrocution death of a woman in China last month, Apple has announced a “takeback” program that will allow consumers to trade questionable power adapters for official Apple-certified models. Chinese media reported that a “knockoff” charger was likely the cause in last month’s tragedy. The move, called “noble” by one journalist, is likely to diffuse any negative publicity that the deadly shock may have created.
“Customer safety is a top priority at Apple. That’s why all of our products – including USB power adapters for iPhone, iPad, and iPod – undergo rigorous testing for safety and reliability and are designed to meet government safety standards around the world,” said the official statement from Apple.
It continued: “If you have concerns about any of your USB power adapters, you can drop them off at an Apple Retail Store or at an Apple Authorized Service Provider. We will ensure that these adapters are disposed of in an environmentally friendly way.”
The USB Power Adapter Takeback Program will accept all types of power adapters, regardless of being Apple-branded or not. Anyone with concerns that they may possess a counterfeit charger is welcome to trade it in. The replacement charger is provided for $10 (or the equivalent sum in local currency). Customers must bring their iPhone, iPad, or iPod with them for serial number verification (one power adapter per device).
Two electrocutions in China last month shed light on the dangers associated with using electronic devices plugged into non-official power adapters. A 23-year-old woman from Xinjiang died after answering her iPhone 4 while it was charging. In Beijing, a 30-year-old man remains hospitalized after being shocked by his own charging iPhone 4.
Apple launched an investigation into the electrocution incidents, and also posted power adapter identification information and photographs to help Chinese customers identify authentic versus knockoff chargers.
“[The Takeback Program] isn’t just altruism on Apple’s part. Headlines linking ‘iPhone’ and ‘electrocution’ are generally bad for business. More importantly, the program provides some justification for the company’s strict – and some would say draconian – hardware-certification programs,” said MacWorld.
At present, the Takeback Program is valid until October 18. Consumers in China can receive a replacement power adapter starting August 9, with other markets kicking off the program on August 16.