By now, every iOS user is familiar with the reports relating the death of a 23-year-old Chinese woman who was electrocuted when she answered a call on her iPhone while the device was plugged in and charging. Even though the details are still rather sketchy at this point, the victim’s family insists that the device was bought in December from an authorized dealer in China and that she was using an official charger at the time of the incident.
Strike two for Apple
With all the hype generated by the launch of the iPhone 4S and death of Steve Jobs, Apple fans seem to have forgotten that the multi-billion corporation launched a similar take back program back in 2008. To be more precise, Apple issued a recall of the USB power adapted that was included in the iPhone 3G package due to reports showing that the metal prongs integrated broke down easily, leaving the charger stuck in the power outlets. Luckily, even though the risks of electric shock were pretty high under these circumstances, nobody got hurt and allegedly all faulty adaptors were replaced.
Apple’s position following the tragic death of Ma Ailun
As expected, Apple launched a thorough investigation immediately after the news of the young flight attendant’s death turned into a huge scandal. Experts on the matter stated that all mobile devices present a higher risk when being used while charging. However, they also noted that in order for a charger to produce an electric discharge that could kill a person, there have to be several other factors involved, including the presence of water.
Apple’s investigation suggested that Ma’s death occurred due to the usage of a counterfeit or third-party adapter that was not designed according to the company’s safety standards. Even though some reports admit that not all third-party chargers are faulty, Apple decided not to take any risks and launched a Take Back program in mid August.
To put it simply, if you have any reason to suspect you own a faulty adapter, then send it back and Apple will offer a discount official replacement for only $10. It is important to note that according to Apple’s press release, retail stores and service providers are unable to offer customers information regarding the authenticity or the safety of power adaptors.
The Take Back program is now available beyond China and the US
With two other incidents reported after Ma’s death, Apple has decided to do the honorable thing and launch an extensive third-party power adapter take-back scheme. To be more precise, despite the fact that no other incidents have been reported, Apple has updated its Support Page and now offers trade-in-programs in Australia, Canada, Mexico, India and all countries of the European Union.
It is important to note that the take back program will be available in the aforementioned regions on August 16 and will end on October 18. In addition, Apple announced that each of their retail stores will include a trained professional among the staff at all times to conduct the trade-ins with the customers.
Could this be the best PR campaign Apple ever launched?
In all fairness, if this incident happened a few years ago then you could witness a stone cold corporate behavior. In other words, Apple would have kept its silence until the scandal become too huge to avoid and then – only then – you would have seen an apology. Surprisingly Apple decided to give up its classic crisis management strategy and launched a decent program that helps prevent similarly tragic accidents in the future.
Still, since we’re talking about Apple here, there has to be a catch. Well, considering that their program also addresses third-party chargers and the company is generously offering a brand new power adapter for as little as $10 – half its normal price – many are inclined to assume that this is a genius PR campaign. First off, thanks to this campaign, Apple can no longer be blamed for other charger meltdowns in the future. In addition, by offering to take back third-party chargers, including those from its legitimate partners, Apple is actually transforming its power adaptors into the golden standard.