Apple is recalling power adaptors in Australia due to electric shock risk
Time to check if your iPhone, iPad or Macbook power adaptor needs replacing.
Apple is recalling and replacing selected power adaptors sold in the Australian market for its Mac and "certain" iOS devices, as well as the World Travel Adaptor kit.
The timeframe these adaptors were sold from is quite wide, ranging from 2003 all the way through to 2015. It’s not just Australian adaptors, but also adaptors designed for use in Argentina, Brazil, Continental Europe, New Zealand and South Korea.
The apparent risk is one of electrical shock. Apple says that the prongs may break and create the risk of shock if touched.
Apple has set up a web site to run through the recall process, which essentially boils down to identifying your charger and either contacting Apple support for a replacement or dropping into an Apple store to arrange an adaptor swap.
So how can you tell if you’ve got a potentially lethal adaptor or one of the "safe" ones?
It’s a question of pulling the adaptor apart to separate the prong section (that plugs into the wall) from the rear section that houses the USB connection point and checking the code contained within the plug. If it has a three letter code (typically AUS for the Australian market, but for the other affected markets it could read EUR, KOR, ARG or BRA) then you’re free and safe.
If, however, you have a four or five digit code, or no code whatsoever, that’s a potentially unsafe adaptor. In that case, you should follow the directions on Apple’s web site to arrange a replacement immediately.
Apple has also said that if you’ve already paid for a replacement charger it may be willing to issue a refund, although that involves going through Apple support to determine if you have a valid claim.
Update: Having identified no less than eight potentially suspect devices, we headed to the nearest Apple store for a replacement, which was both useful – we'd rather not get an electric shock and you're probably the same – and somewhat instructional.
First off, be prepared to wait. For whatever reason, Apple has decided that plug replacement can only be done by an Apple Genius, which means waiting for an available Genius bar slot. That could take some time, and hopefully this is a policy that will change. We also had to wait while staff checked if they had stock, which could point to potential shortages in some stores. Then again, we were bringing in eight replacement plugs, which is likely to be more than most regular customers will need.
Updated: Apple informs us that all stores have now been fully briefed on the recall and you should not require a Genius Bar appointment in order to secure a replacement plug.
From what we've been told at the store level, you can more easily recognise if you've got a suspect part simply by its shape. If the duckhead – that's the removable part that actually plugs into the wall – is round, then you do need to check the code as per the above image. If it reads a three letter country code you're safe, but if it reads as a four or five digit number, or nothing at all, it's suspect.
On the Mac front, Macbooks are sold with two adaptors. There's a straight duckhead that plugs straight into the power brick and then into the wall (so your powerbrick looks more or less as if it's plugged into the wall itself) and an extension cable version that terminates in a triangular style plug. If you're using the extension cable version you're perfectly safe; it's only the duckhead straight version with a round plug that may be affected. One obvious solution if you are using just the straight duckhead would be to swap to the extension cable while you wait for a replacement.
In our case, Apple appeared to be pulling replacement duckhead stock from retail 12V adaptor boxes, but not all the boxes that were opened contained the newer style rectangular plugs. If you are handed a round replacement plug, it's going to be well worth checking that it's not part of the recall itself. Had we not done so, we would have walked out with at least one replacement plug that itself would have needed replacement.