Dell recalls 284,000 Inspiron notebook batteries

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said Dell Computer Corp. is voluntarily recalling 284,000 batteries used in its Inspiron line of laptop computers because they can overcharge, become very hot, release smoke and possibly catch fire.

Round Rock, Texas-based Dell said it has received one report of a battery that overcharged, resulting in minor property damage. The commission said no injuries were reported.

The batteries covered by the recall are used in Dell Inspiron 5000 and 5000e notebook computers that the company introduced in January 2000 and sold through this past March.

This is the second battery recall for Dell and the third reported problem with defective components in the Inspiron line in 14 months. In October, Dell recalled 27,000 batteries used in its Inspiron and Latitude notebook lines (see story). In March last year, the company had to replace flawed memory modules that could cause data to be lost or corrupted in as many as 400,000 of the PCs that were sold during 1999 (see story).

Two weeks later, rival Compaq Computer Corp. had to recall 55,000 battery packs used in its Armada E500 and V300 notebook computers because the batteries could short-circuit and potentially cause fires in the machines (see story).

The commission said batteries covered by the current recall cost between $100 and $130 when sold separately from the notebook.

Users can identify the batteries covered by the recall announced today by identifying marks, which include Dell, Made in Japan and Inspiron Battery module printed on the top. Batteries that have colored stickers containing either the number series 99 or the series 00 51 or lower and the letter P in the first line are being recalled.

The commission said customers should stop using these batteries immediately and call Dell toll-free at (877) 237-3355 or check the company's Web site to order a free replacement battery.

A management service provider company called AssetMetrix Inc. is offering a free service to help corporate IT managers quickly identify which Inspiron notebooks contain the defective batteries.

IT managers can log on to the AssetMetrix Web site, receive a log on and request the battery tracking inventory tool, according to Carlen Lavigne, the company's marketing manager. AssetMetrix sends the tool - an Active X component about 140K in size - which is then e-mailed to all users on a corporate network.

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