Recent battery recall gets students heated

By Ashley Cook
September 22, 2006

A voluntary recall of 4.1 million lithium-ion batteries used within laptops has recently been announced by Dell Computers and 1. 8 million batteries are also included from Apple, due to potential overheating and fire hazards.

This recall is the largest computer-related recall ever recorded by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, not something I’d be too proud of. In cooperation with the U.S. CPSC, Dell is voluntarily recalling certain Dell-branded batteries and offering free replacements.

Sony admitted the problem was caused by a line contamination issue that spanned years. They not only knew of the situation, but they ignored it because they thought they could just put a Band-Aid on the problem, obviously not.

Sony apparently had a tool that crimped the metal casing and shards wee created in the metal that occasionally fell into the cathode or anode (positive and negative terminals of a battery.) In other words, Sony should have been much more careful when manufacturing these batteries because not only are they losing money, but so are the Dell and Apple companies.

Dell has identified a potential issue associated with Dell Latitude, Inspiron, XPS and Dell Precision Mobile Workstation notebooks carrying these lithium-ion batteries. Also computers purchased from Dell or Apple within the following dates; April 1, 2004 to July 18, 2006, should also be checked for hazards. But Dell still is not moving forward to check all of the computer batteries. How are we to know the computer we are using right now may not have something wrong with it also?

I think all consumers who own a Dell or Apple computer should remove the battery from the computer to view the model and serial numbers labeled on the bottom of the units. Carmi Levy, InfoTech senior analyst, said in webtech.com, “Computer Designs that limit heat dissipation as well as the apparent faulty performance of Sony’s lithium-ion batteries need to be thoroughly investigated.” Concerns Dell stated were that of collateral damage to computing equipment and its surrounding areas.

But what about the risk of human injury, especially where laptops are used in confined spaces, such as airplanes? If Dell does not make sure to recall all batteries under the circumstances, this could take the privilege of laptops on airwaves away.

Roger Kay, an analyst and principal at Endpoint Technologies, was quoted in news.com “According to Dell, Sony has put in new quality control procedures in place to prevent the problem from occurring again.” Dell assures consumers that they are able to continue using the computers safely by turning the system off and ejecting the battery, while using the AC adapter and power cord to power the system, but why risk it if the hazard is harmful and can lead to injury?

Dell and Apple have created the following websites for information concerning the issue and for consumers to fill out recall forms to attain new batteries within a four to six week period: www.dellbatteryprogram.comand http://support.apple.com/ibook-powerbook/batteryexchange.

The Dell and Apple websites are not very good sources for solving the battery problems. They give the reader little instructions, making it difficult for anyone to fill out recall forms. These websites are also hidden and I had to search for a long while until I found anything on the Apple recalls. Hopefully Dell, along with Apple will take the proper actions necessary to attain good customer service and safety for all the consumers.

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Ashley Cook

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