The question I asked on my Facebook status today was, “How is it that Apple can make such nice laptops and such lousy laptop power cords?”. I asked that as the cord from my recently (July of this year) purchased Macbook Air stopped functioning properly. How annoying. Apple laptop power cords are notoriously bad. By bad I mean that they often break long before the laptop does (at least anecdotally) and cost about eighty bucks to replace. My cord on my previous Mac laptop lasted about a year and a half before it broke. I’ve heard others, who travelled around with their laptops more than I did, complain that their cords lasted an even shorter time. I used the laptop itself for six years. I used four cords with it but only two of them were official Apple power cords.

My Macbook Air power cord even stopped working in a different way than one normally stops. Usually the cord gets a break in it. The electricity stops flowing because the wire is broken inside. A small gap not visible on the outside. On a Mac laptop this is easy to tell because they build in a little light at the end of it that lights up when the power is flowing. If you wiggle the cord around a bit you can make a connection and get the power flowing and the light to light up again. At least for a little while but you know that the power cord is as good as gone.

This power cord is acting even weirder than that. A few days ago I plugged it into the laptop and got no light. Strange. I jiggled the cord around and nothing happened. I reset the electrical strip that it was plugged into but still got no power. I then plugged the thing into an outlet that was across the room. Still no light and no power. Jiggling the cord did nothing. It didn’t seem like a break in the cord. I moved the power cord back to its usual outlet, plugged it into my laptop, and then I had power again. Weird. I had no idea what was happening but I let my laptop charge. A fluke I hoped.

For about two days after that the same problem kept happening. It was like playing roulette. It was completely binary. I’d plug it in and either it would get power or not. Red or black. Jiggling the cord didn’t affect the situation at all. I could plug it in three times in a row, not get power, and then on the fourth time the power would be back. As long as I didn’t unplug the power cord from the computer the power cord would work. Even moving the computer around.

I prefer to run my Macbook Air on battery power so I can easily move it around so that’s how I continued to work. Then I started to obsess over if the cord was going to work or not. It was really annoying and distracting. After about two days of this I couldn’t deny I had a real problem anymore so I made an appointment at the Apple store to have the thing looked at. My appointment was for that night, Friday, at 6PM. It’s the Apple store in the Palisades Center Mall and boy was that place crowded. There were at least a hundred people in the store and it’s not a big box store. It’s crazy how busy that place is these days.

I made my way back to the “Genius Bar” (cue jokes from “The Big Bang Theory” TV show) and signed in with a woman whose job it was to sign people in who have appointments. It still took until about 6:20 PM for someone to see me. Like I said the place was a mad house. There were three people behind the bar taking care of about nine people’s problems. I kind of got lost in the shuffle for a few minutes but I was glad that mine seemed like an easy problem.

Most of the people are the store who were taking care of problems were getting their iPhones looked at. Being that I haven’t been to the Apple Genius Bar since before the iPhone came out this was a bit of a surprise to me. It makes perfect sense since Apple has sold a lot more phones than computers in recent years but I found it a little sad for some reason. I think I was a little nostalgic for the days before the iPhone took over almost everything Apple. Maybe that and the fact that I don’t have an iPhone. I could have just been feeling out of the loop.

I told the guy behind the counter my problem and he took the cord to try on his computer. No little green light came on and no power flowed. I was really glad of that. Like I said the problem had been intermittent and we all know the frustration of showing the repairman the problem and the problem isn’t there. I was relieved that the problem was there. So he immediately said that they’d replace the cord. Of course then there were none in stock. How annoying. Plus they couldn’t pull one off the retail shelf and give it to me. Something to do with inventory serial numbers. They’d have to order one for me and it would be in in a couple of days. He did suggest that I could buy a new retail one and return it when I picked up my replacement. That sounded like too much of a hassle to me so I got my receipt for the future one and left. I have a desktop too so worst case was that I would have to stay off the laptop for a few days.

When I got home I tried my bad power cord and it worked. I was happy to be able to charge my laptop battery but I unplugged the thing at night. It made me nervous to have it plugged in and unattended. As I write this on Saturday I’ve had the laptop plugged in all day and the power cord has worked all day. I still don’t like working with it plugged in but what the heck it’s only for a few days. I’m also going to unplug it tonight. I hope the new one is in soon.