Dell Details on Notebook Battery Recall


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Dell Details on Notebook Battery Recall

Dell announced a recall today of lithium-ion batteries sold in many of our notebook computers over the past two years. You may have seen the recent New York Times story or have seen other details in the blogosphere.  As the leader of the mobile business for Dell, I wanted to share my thoughts on this recall.

Lithium-ion is a proven technology which has been widely used in our industry for over ten years. These batteries are not just for notebook computers – they are found in many electronic products including cell phones and music players. For more information on lithium-ion safety, you can visit the Portable Rechargeable Battery Association.

I don’t mind telling you this recall follows an extensive investigation, but the decision to err on the side of safety was never in doubt. My team and I come to work in Austin and around the world every day so we can put great products in the hands of our customers. There were very few incidents to go on here, and it would have been easy to justify them as anomalies. However, we’re not willing to do that, because in everything that we do, it is absolutely about safety first.

This is a voluntary recall of approximately 4.1 million batteries, making it one of the largest in Dell’s history. Many of you are thinking that this action is a direct result of the notebook fire at a business meeting in Osaka, Japan back in June, as well as a couple of other incidents that have been posted on the Internet.

The fact is, we are looking at safety data every single day, and this did not start when we heard about the incident in Osaka. Our technical support agents are trained to look out for anything that comes up on a call that might be indicative of a safety matter, no matter how small. When we hear about these things, we work with the customer to get them a new replacement system right away, so they can get back up and running. We then work with the customer to get the affected system back to Dell (we call this a “capture”) so we can take a good, hard look at it. Dell has a global safety organization with engineers and experts at our centers around the world. In most of these cases, we are able to determine that the cause of the customer complaint is not a hazard for other customers. Nevertheless, we learn a lot from our customers’ experience and we use this information in the future development of our products. That’s one reason it’s great having a direct relationship with our customers.

In very rare instances, a real safety hazard does present itself. In these cases, the customer captured systems are sent through a detailed forensic analysis, kind of like what you would see on “CSI.” Dell has extensive lab capability for these investigations and a lot of the work is done right here. We also work with third-party labs to complete and verify this analysis, because we value independent outside opinions. In any case, our safety engineers are involved every step of the way.

Analyzing the data is the tricky part—that’s what brought us to where we are today. We’re lucky that in being direct we have access not only to real-time customer data, but also can correlate that information with data from our component supply partners such as Sony, who is the manufacturer of the battery cells in this particular case. We look at product performance data all the time, but we give it extra scrutiny when there is a problem that might impact our customers and their well being. In this case, there was not much to go on, especially considering how few incidents there were in relation to how many notebooks Dell sells as the largest notebook brand worldwide. Since we engage directly with our customers and build every system to each customer's unique order, we know what product we have shipped to whom. We are now focused on communicating to those notebook customers impacted by this recall and making the replacement process as simple as possible. Some might say we are being conservative and even overreacting in taking this broad action, but even one more incident is too many.

On behalf of Dell, I’d like to apologize to all affected customers. Above all else, your safety is important to us. We also understand that the work that you do on your notebook is invaluable to you, and we’re committed to getting replacement batteries shipped out to you as quickly as we can.

To determine if your laptop battery is part of this recall, you can go here. This website will be live shortly after midnight Central Time. This site is now live.  You’ll find answers to FAQs and new information as it is available here on Direct2Dell.


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  • Thanks for the heads up from a loyal Dell customer...
  • Hopefully, this should stem the overflowing number of customers who are logging to the Chat Support for queries related to their Battery recall. If possible, can this be included in the IVRs or the Chat Presentations so that customers are informed while they are waiting to speak to an agent?

    Romanick A
  • All the hyperlinks about the battery recall placed by Dell are non functional to this point. Please contact me by e-mail.
  • Hey Guys,

    As I sit here next to my Dell Inspiron 600m...The link "" doesnt seem to work for me, it goes nowhere.

    Typo in the link? Website down?

    Let me know!
  • I bought my Inspirion E1505 in March 16.  I believe my battery is part of the recall.  I will check the website when it goes live later tonight.  I hope there are no problems.  I am wondering id I should remove my battery now.
  • Will you contact all people who have the batteries in question?
    When will this happen and how will we ship the questionable batteries back to you?
  • Just amazed at the number of units involved, over 4 million.  Curious to see the number of which come back over time.  If lucky, 25% of these units will come back post-recall, all of which will not have exploded.  This is a widely used product in other mobile devices so we shall see what the other companies involved will do.

    cited no. of inolved:
  • Would you not characterize this a systemic problem with Dell laptop batteries considering that there were similar (albeit smaller scale) recalls in Dell laptop batteries in 2000, 2001, 2005 and now?

    I believe if consumer safety is of the utmost concern then Dell may want to re-evaluate relationships with its battery manufacturers.

  • Good luck with the recall. If these are all batteries manufactured by Sony, good luck working out the details with Sony. Common use technologies such as batteries come with inherent potential risks. However, their prevalence in our daily lives dictates a greater than usual quality and safety testing regimen, that obviously failed here for Dell to consider over 4 million units to be at risk. This one is not on Dell, it is on the actual manufacturer of the batteries.

    Del,, it took longer than it should have, but good going on looking out for your customers safety. The battery manufacturer isn't the one putting this recall out, or the warning, and risking their reputatio. Dell is, and in this particular instance, it's not Dells fault.  

    But then, maybe it's just karma.

    Still, I appreciate the recall. Now I have to go check some batteries.

  • Alex,

    Thank you for erring on the side of safety.  I know that a recall of this magnitude is a massive undertaking and I appreciate Dell's committment to consumer safety.

    Best of luck,
    Jason Bryan
  • Dell has done the right thing by recalling the batteries; the batteries can be replaced, but people cannot - and as Alex so correctly noted, it is all about customer safety.

    I can only hope that our replacement batteries are shipped out as quickly as is possible.  How Dell handles a recall of this size and scope will be interesting to watch.

    One question for Dell:  I presume that our batteries will be replaced with an identical battery? (for example, a 9-cell with a comparable 9-cell)

  • It would be nice during recalls like this, if you would explain to people how to sign up to get email/phone/mail notices of future recalls.
  • My battery has overheated twice (my CPU was emergency downclocked by the BIOS) after using it almost completely and then letting it charge. I had to disconnect the batter both times. Dunno what would have happened if I didn't.

    And my battery NOT on the recall list. My laptop model and a model that looks EXACTLY like mine is on the recall list. Dell's reputation is not very good for me ATM...
  • I commend Dell for looking out for the consumer on this issue.  I have been fearful of leaving my system on while unattended.  It'll be nice that I can leave my system on over night and not have to worry about my house catching on fire.

    <a href="">RunFatBoy</a> -- Exercise for the rest of us.
  • Thanks Alex for the heads up.

    Hey Cecilia, I read in the NYT piece that:

    "Dell said it would notify affected customers by mail and online, or through corporate sales representatives, and arrange to send a replacement battery. In the meantime, it advised owners to remove the original battery and use a power cord."