"Swell ... Now Dell' Cells Are Puttin' Me Through HELL!"


M

MissSouth

Dell, the computer-maker whose quality control and sales have been
SLIDING for more than 2 years, issues a recall of 4 million Sony-made
laptop batteries following fires and fears!

-----

"Fire Hazard Causes Dell To Recall Laptop Batteries"

"Action Affects Over 4 Million Devices"

By Sara Kehaulani Goo and Annys Shin
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, August 15, 2006; A01

Dell Inc. said yesterday that it would recall 4.1 million lithium-ion
batteries for laptop computers after several dangerous incidents in
which the batteries burst into flames and damaged other property.

The move by the world's largest PC maker marks one of the biggest
safety recalls in the history of consumer electronics and serves as a
setback for Dell, which has been hit by stiff competition and steep
customer-service costs, causing earnings to tumble and its stock price
to lag in recent months. The recall is also likely to intensify reviews
underway at agencies that have been studying the dangers of battery
packs commonly used in many electronic devices, from iPods to portable
DVD players and cellphones.

The National Transportation Safety Board last month held a hearing
about the safety of lithium batteries on airplanes after a fire
occurred Feb. 7 on a cargo jet. The UPS plane, which was carrying
lithium-ion batteries, among other items, caught fire in flight and
landed safely in Philadelphia. Investigators have not announced the
cause of the fire and have not made any safety recommendations about
the transportation of such batteries.

In a separate incident, a Dell laptop ignited during a conference
several months ago in Japan. Digital photos from the event posted at
online news sites show flames shooting from the laptop, as if an
explosion had occurred, leaving burn marks on the green tablecloth
under the computer. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, which
said Dell brought the situation to the agency's attention under federal
guidelines, said the company has documented half a dozen such
accidents.

"We feel we have determined what the problem is and that problem has
been corrected. Considering the volumes of lithium-ion batteries used
in the world today, not just in notebook computers . . . the incidents
involving some kind of overheating are really quite rare," said Jess
Blackburn, a Dell spokesman. "We certainly have our customer safety at
the front of our concerns."

The recalled batteries, components of which were made by Sony Corp.,
were used in several types of Dell Latitude, Inspiron, Precision and
XPS models sold from April 2004 through July 2006 through the company's
catalogue, Web site or over the phone. Consumers are advised to stop
using the batteries immediately and contact Dell for a replacement at
http://www.dellbatteryprogram.com , which the company said would be
online as of today. Customers may continue to use the computers by
turning them off, ejecting the battery and using the power cord
instead.

Sony said the recall would have a financial impact on the company but
declined to discuss details. "Sony is very sensitive and concerned
about the quality of our products and safety of our products," said
Rick Clancy, a Sony spokesman. "We are supporting Dell's recall."

The problem of lithium-ion batteries overheating is not new, and
consumer groups and the aviation safety communities have long been
concerned. Battery packs contain cells that sometimes contain
microscopic metal pieces, which can become overheated when they come
into contact with other components. Usually, when a battery overheats,
it causes the computer to shut down. In a few cases, however, the
battery has ignited. No one has died in such an accident, the Consumer
Product Safety Commission said.

"Once the battery reaches incredibly high temperatures, it doesn't have
a mechanism to vent heat or cut itself off," commission spokesman Scott
Wolfson said. The Dell recall stemmed from a quality-control issue, he
said.

In an incident last month, Thomas Forqueran, 62, of Arizona, was
loading his truck and smelled smoke. Flames were shooting out of his
Dell Inspiron laptop, which he had placed on the passenger side of the
vehicle, and spread as the fire ignited ammunition that was also in the
truck. The truck, a 1966 Ford F-250 passed down from his father, was
destroyed by fire.

"I see Dell commercials half a dozen times a night, saying 'What can we
build for you today?' " Forqueran said. "And I say, 'Grandpa's truck.'
"

Consumer electronics companies play down the safety hazard of
lithium-ion batteries, saying that such incidents are rare. Sony said
there have been only "a small number" of fires linked to lithium-ion
batteries. Sales of the batteries are rising rapidly, the Portable
Rechargeable Battery Association said. It said that 2 billion
lithium-ion cells, used in making the batteries, are to be sold this
year.

The recall yesterday was not the first for Dell, which has recalled
more than 330,000 batteries in the past six years because of
overheating problems.

The most recent recall came in December and involved about 22,000
notebook computer batteries. Dell had received three reports of
batteries overheating. No injuries were reported. In May 2001, Dell
voluntarily recalled about 284,000 batteries, warning they could
"become very hot, release smoke, and possibly catch fire," a safety
commission news release said.

Seven months earlier, Dell had recalled about 27,000 batteries, saying
they could "short circuit, even when the battery is not in use."

Problems with overheating rechargeable batteries have led to recalls at
several other well-known laptop computer retailers, including
Hewlett-Packard Co. and Apple Computer Inc.

In documents, the NTSB detailed several dozen fires in cargo shipments
and on planes that could be linked to various kinds of batteries. The
Federal Aviation Administration also is reviewing the issue. In 2004,
rechargeable lithium batteries in a plastic case started a fire during
cargo loading at a FedEx hub in Memphis. In March and June 2005,
packages of rechargeable lithium batteries caught fire while being
shipped.

Staff writer Del Quentin Wilber contributed to this report.



http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/08/14/AR2006081400881.html
 
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A

Alex Clayton

MissSouth said:
Dell, the computer-maker whose quality control and sales have been
SLIDING for more than 2 years, issues a recall of 4 million Sony-made
laptop batteries following fires and fears!

-----
While I am not impressed with Dell, I find it hard to blame them for
batteries made by Sony.
 
K

Keith

While I am not impressed with Dell, I find it hard to blame them for
batteries made by Sony.

Don't discount the way they're used, in particular the charging
circuit/method.
 
A

Alex Clayton

Keith said:
Don't discount the way they're used, in particular the charging
circuit/method.

Since I don't own a Dell, I have not really cared much about this. Is the
problem something to do with the PC's and not the batteries? If that the
case I am sure the lawyers will soon let us know since there will surly be
someone getting sued here.
 
K

Keith

Since I don't own a Dell, I have not really cared much about this. Is the
problem something to do with the PC's and not the batteries? If that the
case I am sure the lawyers will soon let us know since there will surly be
someone getting sued here.

It really could be either, but the (battery) technology has had a
lot of troubles. Cell phones have been known to burst into flames
too. The battery in my XM MyFi Radio was replaced as a "recall"
(they sent me a new battery and instructed me to replace it
immediately) about six months ago.

There is a lot of energy in those little batteries. If someone
lets the magic smoke escape it's going to be noticeable.
 
A

Alex Clayton

Keith said:
It really could be either, but the (battery) technology has had a
lot of troubles. Cell phones have been known to burst into flames
too. The battery in my XM MyFi Radio was replaced as a "recall"
(they sent me a new battery and instructed me to replace it
immediately) about six months ago.

There is a lot of energy in those little batteries. If someone
lets the magic smoke escape it's going to be noticeable.

Weren't the Cell batteries that were problems counterfeits? I had read a
couple articles about that, but the ones I read blamed it on batteries that
had been made then had a fake label put on them. I had read that some even
made it into the supply stream of the manufacturers, which caused the
"recall". I know I used to buy Cell batteries from the cheapest place I
could find them until I read about this. I decided from now on to just buy
from the big name places. Same with things like flash memory. I had bought
several 512 jump drives and SD cards off Ebay. I guess I got lucky as I
later found out the same problem was going on with these. Now if
Wal-Mart.com has what I need they are my first choice even if they are
slightly higher. At least I know with them if there is ANY trouble all I
have to do is take it to any store and it's a no hassle return.
 
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R

Robert Redelmeier

In comp.sys.ibm.pc.hardware.chips Keith said:
Don't discount the way they're used, in particular the
charging circuit/method.

Agreed. Short of mechanical damage, it's rather rare for
anything to happen to a battery that is just sitting there,
not receiving or providing current.

But do anything and you will get heat. Even "floating"
there will be heat from the 60 Hz ripple and the charging
overvoltage and internal resistance.

If the heat isn't properly removed (HSF?!?) temperature will
increase pretty much without limit until it is removed.

-- Robert
 
K

Keith

Weren't the Cell batteries that were problems counterfeits? I had read a
couple articles about that, but the ones I read blamed it on batteries that
had been made then had a fake label put on them. I had read that some even
made it into the supply stream of the manufacturers, which caused the
"recall".

That's the story they're trying to tell. FWIG, Li-Ion chemistry is
pretty fickle and the charger has to be designed for that
particular cell (some laptop batteries have electronics in them) so
this excuse may even be close to the truth. ;-)

BTW, apparently it's not only Li-Ion that has problems. I've heard
some pretty bad horror stories from model airplane hobbyists using
fast charge NiMH batteries too. According to the reports, a couple
of cars have been taken out by these things.
I know I used to buy Cell batteries from the cheapest place I
could find them until I read about this. I decided from now on to just buy
from the big name places. Same with things like flash memory. I had bought
several 512 jump drives and SD cards off Ebay. I guess I got lucky as I
later found out the same problem was going on with these.

Buying on the cheap always has its risks. I'm looking for memory
for my laptop (1GB DDR2 PC2-5300, IIRC). I've always used Crucial,
but not sure if the 50% margin is worth it. I know the next 50%
for the manufacturer's part isn't.
Now if
Wal-Mart.com has what I need they are my first choice even if they are
slightly higher. At least I know with them if there is ANY trouble all I
have to do is take it to any store and it's a no hassle return.

They'll put the magic smoke back in the battery? ;-)
 
A

Alex Clayton

Keith said:
They'll put the magic smoke back in the battery? ;-)

LOL, no I don't know if they sell Batteries for Cell. I meant for PC stuff
like memory. I had someone who knows a hell of a lot more about these things
(PC's) than I do recommend NewEgg. I was wanting an external drive to use as
a back up so I ordered one from them. Came to me DOA. Then I found that to
send it back to them I had to pay shipping and pay them to "re stock" their
defective shit. That was the last time they will get me. I ordered another
one from Wally. It worked, but if it had not all I would have had to do was
take it to one of their stores.
For my cell batteries I guess I will just buy from whichever carrier I am
using at that time. They are about twice as much but what the hell how many
am I going to ever buy? Rather than risk it I will just order an extra from
them.
 
G

George Macdonald

That's the story they're trying to tell. FWIG, Li-Ion chemistry is
pretty fickle and the charger has to be designed for that
particular cell (some laptop batteries have electronics in them) so
this excuse may even be close to the truth. ;-)

Yeah, it's not clear to me where control circuitry is in the various
implementations; I believe the laptop (Thinkpad) Li-Ions have quite a bit
(most ?) of the circuitry in the battery housing - not sure about things
like digi-cams etc.
BTW, apparently it's not only Li-Ion that has problems. I've heard
some pretty bad horror stories from model airplane hobbyists using
fast charge NiMH batteries too. According to the reports, a couple
of cars have been taken out by these things.


Buying on the cheap always has its risks. I'm looking for memory
for my laptop (1GB DDR2 PC2-5300, IIRC). I've always used Crucial,
but not sure if the 50% margin is worth it. I know the next 50%
for the manufacturer's part isn't.

I got some Patriot brand PC-3200 DDR for a recent desktop build simply
because it was on a "special combo" purchase and it's worked fine at rated
speed: 2-3-2-5-1T. OTOH I'm wary of mfrs like that who obliterate the
original chip part nos and write their own logos, and sometimes part nos.,
in its place.
 
K

Keith

fammacd=! said:
Yeah, it's not clear to me where control circuitry is in the various
implementations; I believe the laptop (Thinkpad) Li-Ions have quite a bit
(most ?) of the circuitry in the battery housing - not sure about things
like digi-cams etc.

ThinkPad batteries certainly have electronics in them, but it's not
clear how much of the charging circuit is in there. There is some
NVRAM of some sort in there to count charging cycles and some ROM
(perhaps in the same NVRAM) that contains the capacity and such,
but I don't believe the charging circuitry is in the battery.
Could be, I guess.
I got some Patriot brand PC-3200 DDR for a recent desktop build simply
because it was on a "special combo" purchase and it's worked fine at rated
speed: 2-3-2-5-1T. OTOH I'm wary of mfrs like that who obliterate the
original chip part nos and write their own logos, and sometimes part nos.,
in its place.

Yep. Even though there is a "lifetime" guaranty on much of the
memory out there, cutting corners can cause a lot of grief down the
road. The cost difference is substantial though ($70 cheap stuff,
$125 Crucial, $180 from Lenovo).
 
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K

Keith

LOL, no I don't know if they sell Batteries for Cell. I meant for PC stuff
like memory. I had someone who knows a hell of a lot more about these things
(PC's) than I do recommend NewEgg. I was wanting an external drive to use as
a back up so I ordered one from them. Came to me DOA. Then I found that to
send it back to them I had to pay shipping and pay them to "re stock" their
defective shit. That was the last time they will get me. I ordered another
one from Wally. It worked, but if it had not all I would have had to do was
take it to one of their stores.

I've likely ordered from NewEgg a fifty times. No problems, but I
suppose all it takes is once. I just bought a couple of USB drive
enclosures for an IDE drive that was gathering dust and a SATA that
was wasting power (never did get it to work in my K8 system - also
mostly from NewEgg). They work great. NewEgg is near the top of
my short "will do business with" list.

I've also ordered small things from WallyWorld. No problems there
either.
For my cell batteries I guess I will just buy from whichever carrier I am
using at that time. They are about twice as much but what the hell how many
am I going to ever buy? Rather than risk it I will just order an extra from
them.

Yeah. I just had to order a battery for my wife's phone. $30 from
Verizon. Amazingly, the high capacity (1.7AH vs 1.0AH) battery was
$22.50, but none in stock. :-(
 
A

Alex.Clayton

Keith said:
I've likely ordered from NewEgg a fifty times. No problems, but I
suppose all it takes is once. I just bought a couple of USB drive
enclosures for an IDE drive that was gathering dust and a SATA that
was wasting power (never did get it to work in my K8 system - also
mostly from NewEgg). They work great. NewEgg is near the top of
my short "will do business with" list.

I've also ordered small things from WallyWorld. No problems there
either.


Yeah. I just had to order a battery for my wife's phone. $30 from
Verizon. Amazingly, the high capacity (1.7AH vs 1.0AH) battery was
$22.50, but none in stock. :-(

Yes once was all they will get from me. I have no problem with someone
sending me either a wrong item or a DOA item, shit happens. What sealed it
for me and New Egg was their "you need us, we don't need you" attitude.
There is too many places to buy this kind of stuff these days for me to put
up with that kind of customer service.
I have noticed every year when I change phones that often a "new" phone
takes a while for batteries to show up for. Hell they last so damn long now
though that I often wonder why I still bother to buy and extra. I guess it's
good to have one just in case something happens to the one in the phone, but
my phone use will never come close to running one dead.
 
G

George Macdonald

LOL, no I don't know if they sell Batteries for Cell. I meant for PC stuff
like memory. I had someone who knows a hell of a lot more about these things
(PC's) than I do recommend NewEgg. I was wanting an external drive to use as
a back up so I ordered one from them. Came to me DOA. Then I found that to
send it back to them I had to pay shipping and pay them to "re stock" their
defective shit. That was the last time they will get me. I ordered another
one from Wally. It worked, but if it had not all I would have had to do was
take it to one of their stores.

Why did you not want to have NewEgg send a replacement unit? Ask for a
refund and you'll pay a restock fee to *any* of the on-line vendors. In
all the times, maybe hundreds of items I've bought from NewEgg, the one DOA
I got was promptly replaced with no hassle. Paying for ship-back is
standard practice in the on-line buying industry... can sometimes be
avoided, at some vendors like NewEgg, depending on circumstances, if you
get the right guy, present a good case and ask nicely.

IMO NewEgg is about as good as it gets in on-line buying: they don't
advertize things they don't have and in fact their stock situation has
always been accurate for me with ETAs even, on out-of-stock stuff. I've
seen a lot worse: "open-box" posing as "new"; multiple 'phone calls with
hours of listening to Musak; in fact one "reputable" vendor sent me the
wrong item and I had to get angry with them and "escalate" to get them to
pay the ship-back - their initial response was "if you don't send it back
we'll charge you".
 
A

Alex Clayton

George Macdonald said:
Why did you not want to have NewEgg send a replacement unit? Ask for a
refund and you'll pay a restock fee to *any* of the on-line vendors. In
all the times, maybe hundreds of items I've bought from NewEgg, the one
DOA
I got was promptly replaced with no hassle. Paying for ship-back is
standard practice in the on-line buying industry... can sometimes be
avoided, at some vendors like NewEgg, depending on circumstances, if you
get the right guy, present a good case and ask nicely.

IMO NewEgg is about as good as it gets in on-line buying: they don't
advertize things they don't have and in fact their stock situation has
always been accurate for me with ETAs even, on out-of-stock stuff. I've
seen a lot worse: "open-box" posing as "new"; multiple 'phone calls with
hours of listening to Musak; in fact one "reputable" vendor sent me the
wrong item and I had to get angry with them and "escalate" to get them to
pay the ship-back - their initial response was "if you don't send it back
we'll charge you".

I do not know where you get your info, but you don't know what your are
talking about. Many places pay the return shipping if they send you a
defective item. many of them offer you the choice of having a refund, or
exchange. The reason I told them to shove it was when I found they wanted me
to pay to return their defective item. I also had an order for some PC
memory on the way from them. That I refused, since I am done with them. if
"you" happen to like them, great. The way they do things is not the way
"any" on line dealers operate. They have the same attitude the phone Co.
used to have, "we don't care because we don't have to". I bought the
replacement from Wally. If It had been defective I could have returned it
for free, for either a exchange or refund of the FULL cost. Next time I need
something Wally does not have I will try others but never New Egg again. I'm
sure they could care less, but there is tons of places to buy from. I don't
need them.
 
G

George Macdonald

I do not know where you get your info, but you don't know what your are
talking about. Many places pay the return shipping if they send you a
defective item. many of them offer you the choice of having a refund, or
exchange.

Names please!... with URLs of evidence! I have a *lot* of experience with
buying on-line from *discount* computer parts suppliers so yes... I *do*
know what I'm talking about - sounds to me like you don't. Again, NewEgg
*is* about as good as it gets.
The reason I told them to shove it was when I found they wanted me
to pay to return their defective item. I also had an order for some PC
memory on the way from them. That I refused, since I am done with them. if
"you" happen to like them, great.

Attitude problem maybe?.. doesn't help.:-( See last two words of my 1st
para above.
The way they do things is not the way
"any" on line dealers operate. They have the same attitude the phone Co.
used to have, "we don't care because we don't have to". I bought the
replacement from Wally. If It had been defective I could have returned it
for free, for either a exchange or refund of the FULL cost. Next time I need
something Wally does not have I will try others but never New Egg again. I'm
sure they could care less, but there is tons of places to buy from. I don't
need them.

Sounds like Wally World is err, your kinda store.:)
 
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M

M.I.5¾

Keith said:
Don't discount the way they're used, in particular the charging
circuit/method.

Actually the reported failure mode has nothing to do with charging,
discharging or anything else.
 
K

Keith

Actually the reported failure mode has nothing to do with charging,
discharging or anything else.

It has to do with something! ;-) How batteries are treated has a
_lot_ to do with how they perform, or not.
 
G

George Macdonald

It has to do with something! ;-) How batteries are treated has a
_lot_ to do with how they perform, or not.

Sony has 'fessed up on this... apparently: a mfr fault with the battery
package where the final "crimping" of the coiled metal sheets caused
"shards" of metal (lithium ?) to get into the electrolyte and cause a short
 
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D

Del Cecchi

George Macdonald said:
Sony has 'fessed up on this... apparently: a mfr fault with the battery
package where the final "crimping" of the coiled metal sheets caused
"shards" of metal (lithium ?) to get into the electrolyte and cause a
short

So why Dell laptops and not laptops in general? Are the batteries for
Dell laptops somehow of different internal construction than Powerbooks
or Thinkpads or Vaios or Toshiba or Winbook?
 

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