Dell recalls 4.1m laptop batteries

This fire is under control

Dell's customer satisfaction flameout has started to reach record levels. The company today issued a recall for 4.1m laptop batteries out of fear that they could catch fire. The product recall stands as the largest ever for the US consumer electronics industry.

Over the past two months, numerous stories have appeared documenting Dell laptops' habit of igniting. You've got Dell laptop goes up in smoke, Dell probes incendiary laptop incident, Dell laptop smoked in Singapore and Dell said to have 'dozens' of burned laptop incidents on file. Such treasures build on the Nov. 2002 classic - Man burns penis with laptop.

Fire-breathing laptops are the last thing you want when you're a company spending hundreds of millions of dollars to repair a fractured relationship with consumers. And, for awhile, Dell tried to distance itself from the flametop episodes by saying it was investigating the allegations to see if counterfeit batteries or some other junky third-party component wasn't too blame.

Dell has since given up on the "Floyd Landis Defense." The company has teamed with the US Consumer Products Safety Commission to recall laptop batteries sold between April 2004 and July 18, 2006. The recall stretches right across the Latitude, Inspiron and Precision lines.

Dell has fingered faulty Sony manufactured lithium-ion batteries for causing laptops to light up in "rare" cases.

The more than 4m systems account for a whopping 18 per cent of notebooks Dell sold over the past two years.

Consumers should soon be able to see if their system is involved in the recall by going to this site, although the site has yet to go live at the time of publication. The web site will provide information on how to get a free replacement battery.

Dell has spent mounds of cash over the past year trying to improve its customer service. The vendor has hired more customer service representatives, lowered the prices of its gear and cutback the number of odd promotions it throws at consumers. It hopes these measures will, er, warm the public to the Dell brand again. Dell has suffered from an uncharacteristic, sustained sales slump. ®

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