Apple is offering to replace counterfeit chargers with the real thing at half price following the electrocution of a woman in China.
A third-party charger is believed to be responsible for the death of former air hostess Ma Ailun who was electrocuted last month while answering a call on her Apple mobile as it was charging.
Now Apple has announced a global campaign to replace any third-party chargers currently being used with its products.
Anyone who is concerned that they may own a counterfeit USB charger can now take it into any Apple store and the company will replace it with an Apple branded one for $10.
Apple has not explicitly said the move is being made because of 23-year-old Ailun’s death but did refer to reports of “safety issues” in a statement on its website. It has also warned on its Chinese website of the dangers of using unofficial chargers.
Apple’s official statement says: “Recent reports have suggested that some counterfeit and third party adapters may not be designed properly and could result in safety issues.
“While not all third party adapters have an issue, we are announcing a USB Power Adapter Takeback Program to enable customers to acquire properly designed adapters.”
It comes after two incidents reportedly due to third-party chargers – along with the tragic death of Ailun, a 30-year-old man, Wu Jiantong, fell into a coma and was rushed to the intensive care unit at Beijing’s Hai Dian Hospital after yelling “I’m getting shocked” when he connected his iPhone 4 to its charger.
Doctors caring for Jiantong said they had no doubt his coma was induced by an electric shock. And Apple authorised engineer Tangfan Wei said the authentic iPhone charger normally reduced the 220v working voltage to around 5v – significantly lower than the 36v of electricity the human body can cope with.
But, it is believed uncertified iPhone chargers could have conduction issues, accidentally sending the full 220 volts coursing through victims during use.
Apple is offering advice to users about how to identify a real Apple charger, showing images of certified Apple devices.
Tech forum users responded to news of Apple’s offer by pointing out that it was worth spending a few more pounds if it could save your life. One said that a “lot of cheap Chinese chargers” with fake CE safety logos were making their way into the European market because of the use of online auction sites. “They are very poorly designed and made, electrically unsound and potentially dangerous,” they add. “Do yourself a favour and spend a few extra quid to get a decent brand-name charger.”
Anyone who wants to trade in a third-party charger will have to take the counterfeit device to an Apple store together with the serial number of the Apple gadget it is being used to charge.
The Apple offer, however, will only last from August 16 until October 18 – and users are only able to buy one charger for each Apple device that they own.