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August 2006


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Dell Laptop Batteries Recalled


How bad is it?

According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC): "Dell has received six reports of batteries overheating, resulting in property damage to furniture and personal effects. No injuries have been reported."

David Yang, a spokesman for Sony, said “inherently these products are very very safe.” He said the actual number of incidents “can be counted on both your hands.” Still, he said, “we take these things very very seriously.” Yang said Sony and Dell announced a large recall to be extra cautious. Read more.

In the San Francisco's Mon., Aug. 21 online edition, Jeffrey Fox, technology editor at Consumer Reports, was quoted as saying that he echoed Dell's assurance that the potential risks from the batteries are remote, saying, "Laptop owners should not panic, because the chances are slim that you'll have a fire." Read more.

In an editorial by Editor in Chief of Computerworld, Don Tennant said: "So far, the odds of an owner of one of those affected Dell laptops experiencing overheating and a fire is 6 in 4.1 million, or 1 in 683,000. Computerworld research associate Gussie Wilson found that those odds are roughly the same as the odds of matching four numbers plus the Megaball number in the Massachusetts state lottery (1 in 689,065), drawing a royal flush on the first hand (1 in 649,739) or being killed by a fireworks discharge (1 in 615,488). And you have a considerably higher chance of being struck by lightning (1 in 280,000). Read more.

What can we do while we wait for the replacement?

If your battery is affected, you may continue to use your Dell notebook safely by turning the system off, ejecting the battery, and using the AC adapter and power cord to power the system until the replacement battery is received.

How long will it take to get my new battery?

Dell currently estimates that it will take up to 20 business days for your new battery to be sent to you, if you follow the instructions listed on Dell's website.

How many LBNL batteries are affected?

Based on procurement data, the IT Division estimates that Lab employees purchased 200 Dell laptops, which may include batteries identified for recall. According to Dell's estimated 14 percent replacement rate, about 30 LBNL batteries may need to be recalled.

What are other institutions doing?

Most institutions are sending out alerts, similar to the one published in Mondays TABL. Some IT departments in larger institutions are trying to work with Dell for an exchange program that avoids individual returns, and others are advising use of the vehicle provided by Dell. While the Lab's IT Division has also contacted Dell about making batteries easier to exchange, given the magnitude of the recall, it is unlikely that Dell will be able to support it. However, employees may call the IT Help Desk (x4357), which will assist them with identifying if their battery needs to be replaced, ordering the replacement and ensuring it's delivered.

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