If you tried to save some money by buying a cheap off-brand adapter for your iPhone, Apple is offering to let you trade it in and get the real thing for half-off.
Apple (AAPL) is noted for its big markups on basic peripherals like earbuds, charging cords, A/C adapters, and dock adapters to connect the new iPhone 5's to previous iPhone peripherals. So Apple users sometimes turn to third-party sellers who sell much cheaper versions of the same products. For instance, a USB charging/data cord that costs $19 on the Apple website can be had for just $1.05 on this third-party site. I've got this particular model, and it works just as well as the real thing.
But not every knockoff is up to the standards you might hope. Recently, two people in China were electrocuted, one fatally, while using iPhones plugged into counterfeit adapters. And even the ones that don't kill you can still leave something to be desired in the quality department -- some third-party iPhone 5 adapters allow charging but not data transfer, for instance.
With this in mind -- and because "Customer safety is a top priority at Apple," the company announced a "Takeback Program" this week that will let customers bring in their third-party or counterfeit adapters, and receive the real thing for $10. The trade-in program applies only to the USB power adapter, which normally costs $19 and allows you to plug your USB charging cable directly into the wall.
You can only get one discounted adapter per iPhone, iPad or iPod, so you'll have to bring in the relevant device along with the offending adapter so they can check the serial number. That should prevent anyone from abusing the system by buying up a bunch of counterfeit adapters, trading them in, and then re-selling the genuine Apple goods. The program will from Aug. 16 to Oct. 18.
It's a good move for Apple, which gets to show its commitment to user safety -- and it'll probably still make a margin even on the discounted items. And if it means that there are no more fires or electrocutions from sketchy adapters, everyone wins.
Matt Brownell is the consumer and retail reporter for DailyFinance. You can reach him at Matt.Brownell@teamaol.com, and follow him on Twitter at @Brownellorama.