Persistence and ingenuity

When I went to the Apple Store in Shanghai, I had one objective in mind: swap out a broken power adapter for a new one. And I wanted Apple to do it for free.

Was that too much to ask?

Once inside the store, my friend and I went up to an Apple guy and inquired about our situation.

The Apple Store employee nicely informed us that we would probably need to get a new power adapter. Basically, he turned us down.

So he showed my friend the power adapters, sold new, at high prices. And at the Apple Store in Shanghai, they seemed to be particularly expensive. About $100 USD expensive.

I went up to the Genius Bar and asked again. Another Apple Store employee refused my request, saying that the adapter was out of warranty– which it probably is. I sat there for a while, taking advantage of the free Wi-Fi in the Apple Store to check my email and wander around on the web, ostensibly getting some work done.

Eventually, I worked up the courage to ask yet another lady behind the counter about my problem. “I have this charger,” I said, holding it up so she could see what I was talking about. “It doesn’t work, so I would like to have it repaired or replaced.”

“That’s a 60W adapter, and doesn’t go with that MacBook Air you’re using.”

“I know. I believe it’s from a 13-inch MacBook.”

She needed the computer’s serial number to check the warranty status. Understandable, of course.

“Do you have an appointment?”


She signed me up for an appointment, and I waited for about 20 minutes.

Finally, my appointment came up, and I approached the Genius Bar to talk with “Amy”. She initially pointed out that the adapter was out-of-warranty, and that I had 2 options: get a refurbished one at the Genius Bar, or buy a new one. She claimed that the new one was only “slightly” more expensive, and would come with a 1-year warranty, instead of the 3-month warranty provided with the refurb. For a while, I went along with this train of thought.

Then, eager to push my case forward, I pointed out a web page on Apple’s website, showing the adapter strain relief problem, and the fact that they are replacing these types of adapters, even when they are out of warranty. (In fact, there was a class action lawsuit that resulted in Apple replacing all of these adapters.)

The web page says U.S.-only, and she probably saw that– but she was willing to try anyway. It required entering some kind of code from Apple’s site to check whether the store had the item in stock. They did.

From there, it was a straightforward process of getting out the replacement and swapping it for the broken one. The replacement didn’t come with the plug tip, which she moved from the old one to the new one. We tested the new adapter with my MBA, and it worked great.

Persistence pays off. A lesser man would have given up too early, never knowing just how close he was.

Many Apple employees told me multiple times that I would have to pay for the adapter.

In the end, I got it for free.

Was it worth my time? Maybe not. But it was worth it just for the social engineering experience. When I persist and put my mind to it, nothing is impossible.

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