Apple's MagSafe adapter solved the number one source of catastrophic laptop damage; pets, children, and oblivious adults often tripped over the old-style power adapters and brought the entire device crashing to the floor. But the MagSafe adapter came with problems of its own. Fraying cables were a fairly common occurrence among the first-gen adapters, and the problem became widespread enough that Apple started replacing frayed MagSafe adapters free of charge in 2008.
Three years later, most of the MacBooks and MacBook Pros with those old-style adapters are now out of warranty; Apple redesigned the MagSafe connector last year, presumably to address some of the physical strain that may have been causing the cable to fray. Those of you who still have the old-style MagSafe adapters are in luck, because whether or not your Mac is under warranty, your MagSafe adapter is eligible for replacement under Apple's Adapter Replacement Program.
This program has come about as the result of a lawsuit settlement over the frayed cables. In addition to providing free replacements for MagSafe adapters, Apple is also offering refunds to customers who paid for a replacement from their own funds. The amount of the refund depends on how much time elapsed after your Mac's purchase before you bought the replacement.
- US$79 within the first year of the Mac's purchase
- US$50 during the second year following the Mac's purchase
- US$35 during the third year following the Mac's purchase
The type of damage covered is very specific and is known as "strain relief." Apple will still deny coverage if your MagSafe adapter shows signs of accidental damage. What isn't yet clear is whether Apple will be replacing the old MagSafe adapters with the same model or one with the newer connector. Based on TUAW's experience at the Genius Bar, probably the redesigned connectors.