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Laptop Battery Recall Escalates

By Erika Morphy
Sep 29, 2006 9:27 AM PT

As the defective laptop battery problem reaches pandemic proportions -- with Toshiba, Fujitsu, Lenovo and IBM among the latest manufacturers to recall their products for fear they might start a fire -- Dell has expanded the recall it initiated on Aug. 15, adding more products to the list.

Laptop Battery Recall Escalates

Sony, for its part, has said it will initiate a global replacement program for those battery packs that utilize Sony-manufactured lithium ion cells. It is now discussing this plan with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and will coordinate with other government authorities as required, Sony said.

The problem is that microscopic metal particles in the recalled battery cells may come into contact with other parts, the company explained, which could cause the batteries to short circuit and burst into flames.

Smooth Process

Dell's recall process has gone very well since it made its first announcement on Aug. 15, spokesperson Ira Williams told the E-Commerce Times. "Over the last few weeks, we have been working with Sony to make sure we have identified all of the products that might be affected," he said.

Dell has increased the number of recalled batteries from 4.1 million units to approximately 4.2 million units. Since its initial announcement, the computer maker has received almost 200 million hits to its Web site.

Lenovo and IBM have also announced the voluntary recall of approximately 526,000 lithium-ion batteries manufactured by Sony, primarily from the ThinkPad notebook product lines. Lenovo estimates that between 5 percent and 10 percent of ThinkPad notebooks sold from February 2005 to September 2006 are affected by the recall.

Common Sense Tips

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that it is aware of at least 47 incidents related to defective batteries. The most alarming incident occurred when a laptop caught fire during a flight.

Besides responding to recall notices, CPSC offers the following common sense tips:

  • Do not use incompatible computer batteries and chargers.
  • Do not use the computer while it is on your lap. Also, don't use it on soft surfaces, such as a sofa, bed or carpet, because it can restrict airflow and cause overheating.
  • Do not permit a loose battery to come in contact with metal objects such as coins, keys or jewelry.
  • Do not crush, puncture or put a high degree of pressure on the battery, as such mishandling could cause an internal short circuit, resulting in overheating.
  • Avoid dropping or bumping the computer. Dropping it, especially on a hard surface, can potentially cause damage to the computer and battery.
  • Do not place the computer in areas that may get very hot.
  • Do not get your computer or battery wet. Even though both may appear to operate normally after drying out, the circuitry could slowly corrode and pose a safety hazard.

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