New Information on the Battery Recall

SHARE:
Copied!

I just talked to Dell SVP Alex Gruzen who posted on Direct2Dell earlier and is head of our Mobile Products Group.

He is hunkered down with his team working through all the issues around the battery recall (which we initiated based on six confirmed instances in the U.S. in which notebooks overheated or caught fire).

His team offered some new information:  About 14 percent of the batteries provided to Dell customers between April 2004 and July 21, 2006, are affected.  Dell is recalling approximately 4.1 million batteries during the period compared to 24. 9 million batteries that we actually shipped during that same time.

I wanted to ask Alex about some of the points in The New York Times article since a lot of bloggers are linking to it.

You, like I, are probably wondering about the former Dell technician quoted in the story and the photos he has been sharing with “a reporter” (we’re not actually sure if the writer of the story saw the photos, but we’ll ask).

Here’s the deal:  This guy was a technician at Dell and had absolutely nothing to do with product safety investigations.  

He left Dell in January 2005 so he’s pretty much in the dark on the current situation.  It is, however, likely he had a pallet or two of returned products parked in or around his cubicle.

That is because Dell is very aggressive about “capturing” every single product customers report, from laptops to adapters…  even single power cords often end up on those pallets and in our labs.

Our safety engineers take a close look at every single item.  They capture images of all the items from multiple angles for our records.  They take apart items and take more images.  (Many items have more than 25 images.)  We keep extensive records that become a key part of each investigation.  They work to recreate failures in all returned items.  In the end, 99 percent of the systems that we capture  for a potential safety issue involve no actual safety issue.

As I learn more, I will share it with you here.  I’m sure the comments are going to be heavy in the coming hours and days.  I’ve already enlisted some extra help with comment moderation, and we will do our best to respond in a timely manner.  As a reminder, to determine if your laptop battery is part of this recall, you can go hereHave a good night.

Continue Reading
Would you like to read more like this?

Related Posts

Why Seattle is a Future-Ready Economy

Earlier this month, I had the privilege of hosting a roundtable discussion with public and private sector leaders, technologists and local media representatives in Seattle. The robust discussion, which included … READ MORE

John Dietrich April 13, 2016
Click to Load More
All comments are moderated. Unrelated comments or requests for service will not be published, nor will any content deemed inappropriate, including but not limited to promotional and offensive comments. Please post your technical questions in the Support Forums or for customer service and technical support contact Dell Support.

12 thoughts on “New Information on the Battery Recall

  1. Regarding the Dell Tech that was quoted in the article….

    I just love people that talk on a subject to reporters….. This guy stated  "As many as several hundred a year were returned….. I did see so many pallets of stuff coming in that they had to use my lab for overflow storage.”

    And the reporter quotes the guy as if the tech is an expert on the subject matter.

    What would be more informative (than a few pictures) would be serial numbers from the affected units.  For instance, how do we know these units were ever in the hands of a customer?  Could these have been test units from Dell’s own inhouse testing?   Or were these units acquired over the past 2,3 or even 10 years?

    Can this tech show documentation (ie UPS or FedEx tracking numbers) to show the units that were returned to Dell?  Or is it just the photos of damaged goods?

    Just remember, a photo is only as good as the information identified in the photo.  A photo of a stack of body bags next to a major accident does not mean that people were killed in the accident, just that somebody in the fire department was prepared in case people had been killed.  A photo of a stack of damaged computers does not mean those computers are current, or even if those computers were ever in the hands of a consumer.

  2. Is the cited percentage calculation incorrect?  4.1 million is 16.5 percent of 24.9 million, not 14 percent…

  3. @Steven D

    Lovely how numbers can get completely misinterpreted, don’t you agree? Several hundreds a year!! Wow, that’s like less then a percent of total shipped units. For comparison: I’ve heard that some electronic manufactures consider a 2 percent unit dead on arrival acceptable.

  4. We are a Dell Solution Provider – we resell a lot of laptops.  It would have been nice to get a heads up on this today before we started reading about it in the media AFTER the customers – who read it before us – started calling……..  Sigh.

    Lithium Ion Batteries – They are a high energy density package of trouble – as those of us who fly radio control aircraft know.  Charging recommendations (for the admittedly less well made) LiPo’s includes charging inside a ceramic fireproof container!  I’m not saying don’t use them – just that they are up there in risk terms….

  5. Congratulations on the proactive recall.

    Here is something Dell could improve:

    Instead of having customers do surgery on their laptop to figure out if it is affected, why doesn’t dell just tell me if my laptop is affected?

    Dell knows my address, knows what laptop I bought, knows what battery went into it. Hire an intern to automate the process of sending emails to the 4M owners of the affected battery.

    If you want us to do the work, a good % won’t, becz opening up a laptop to check the ID on a battery pack is the last thing I want to do today! It will also take up at least 10 minutes of my time.

  6. First off, I want to thank Dell and the teams that are working to resolve this problem.   I used to work in the tech industry, and know what a fire drill you guys are going through.

    I have a few concerns about the process.   The first problem is that for 20 days I’m going to have a non-portable laptop.   I am no longer in the tech industry, but that would have been more than a minor inconvenience for me back in the day.   Now if somebody trips over the cord, I lose work.   Not a good thing.

    A more major concern is that I am now typing on a laptop with an exposed electrical connector on my lap.   This thing is designed to energize a battery, how remote are the odds that it will energize my lap?  I’m sure that there is some fail-safe circutry in the system, but it is  not engineered for continuous exposure.   (Simply looking at the connector tells me that the engineers were not thinking that the battery would be out of the machine for very long.)   You now have tens of thousands of customers who are running the computer in a configuration that it is not designed for.   This could be a problem.

    Finally, the NYT article indicates that the suspected fault is a short circut in one of the cells.   If this is indeed the case, then I will be interested to see how we are supposed to return the old cells to Dell.   Under this scenario, the battery could explode even if it is not connected to an AC power source — especially if the battery is shaken.  USPS regulations are pretty strict about shipping explosives.

    Anyway, good luck and best wishes.  

    George

  7. This is one of those cases where the percentages do not matter.   Even one product that explodes under normal use is too many for a responsible company to live with.   The products that I worked on had a defect category rating where priority "1" was "customer gets incorrect answer/corrupted data."  "Product explodes" is a whole different universe…

  8. Plz Dell. Be innovative and use similar technologies e.g. Lenovo is using!! => called Thinkvantage Technology

    Proprietary software that shuts down the system when it overheats is being used by companies such as Lenovo (in its Thinkvantage suite)

    Its easy to offer cheap PCs, but its not so easy to invest in quality and offer innovative systems!!

  9. I have been pleading for answers to these questions. Can you help LIONEL?

    XPS 700: 4 "YES OR NO" QUESTIONS BEFORE BUYING:

    YES OR NO Is the chipset in the XPS 700 what is advertised, the nVidia 590?

    YES OR NO Will the nVidia 590 in the XPS 700 do all that the nVidia website boasts?

    YES OR NO Will the XPS 700 support the soon to be released Intel Kentsfield Quad Core CPU?

    YES OR NO Will the XPS 700 motherboard be upgradable to a new board to take care of the 3 NO answers above?

    YES OR NO I ask anyone that is waiting for their long over due shippment if these are very reasonable and legitimate questions that anyone buying a $5000 machine should ask?

  10. George, in response to your concern about an exposed electrical connector, here’s the feedback I received from our notebook engineering team:

    There is no power applied to the battery contacts when no battery is present. This is NOT an issue.

    We have a battery presence pin on the battery that the system looks for to verify that a battery is physically inserted in the battery compartment. The system uses that to verify a battery is inserted, then will query it to determine that it is a genuine dell battery, and then IF needed will begin charging. So there are 3 levels of check that are done before any power is applied to the battery compartment or the battery contacts.

  11. Concerning the following comment in a previous reply on this subject…..

    There is no power applied to the battery contacts when no battery is present. This is NOT an issue.

    We have a battery presence pin on the battery that the system looks for to verify that a battery is physically inserted in the battery compartment. The system uses that to verify a battery is inserted, then will query it to determine that it is a genuine dell battery, and then IF needed will begin charging. So there are 3 levels of check that are done before any power is applied to the battery compartment or the battery contacts.

    I have a Dell Inspiron E1405 that runs on and re-charges the battery as expected.  However, the BIOS does not recognize a battery is present, so there is no power management.  Can anyone tell me which pin is the "battery presence" pin on the battery?  It is a Y9943 battery.  Or is this more likely a motherboard issue?

Comments are closed.