Dell promises to contact customers affected by battery recall

Dell has outlined three recall options for enterprise customers, of which the third is the most likely: have each employee go to Dell’s Web site, determine if their battery is subject to the recall and apply online for a replacement.

Dell has promised to contact every single enterprise customer in Australia affected by its worldwide recall of 4.1 million batteries.

This is a massive task as figures from analyst firm IDC show the number of Dell laptops sold in Australia during the 2005 calendar year topped 178,401.

However, a local Dell spokesperson would not reveal the number of customers affected or how many had been contacted to date.

The spokesperson said Dell’s online purchasing business model makes it easy to track down customers.

“Part of that build-to-order model is using our unique service tags so we can work out which batteries have been affected by the recall,” the spokesperson said.

“Whether through an enterprise fleet buyer or a home customer, Dell has direct relationships with customers and we will be contacting [them] directly.”

For the past week Dell has been busy dealing with the recall.

The batteries were made for Dell by Sony which is shouldering some of the cost burden of the recall which affects laptops made between July 1, 2004 and July 18, 2006.

Dell has offered corporate customers three options to get replacement batteries.

For companies with a large, dedicated IT shop, staff can track down the affected laptops within the company, order the replacements and install them when they arrive from Dell. In other instances, Dell may set up and staff kiosks at corporate customers’ premises to handle the recall.

But the third option may be the most likely: “In some cases, larger corporate customers may just leave it to the end user,” Dell said.

That is the approach being taken by Electronic Data Systems (EDS). The global enterprise technology service provider sells and maintains Dell computers for military, civilian government agencies and corporate customers, said spokesman Travis Jacobsen.

If an enterprise has people in offices scattered around the country or the world, the simplest thing for them to do is have each employee go to Dell’s Web site,, determine if their battery is subject to the recall and apply online for a replacement, he said.

But for enterprises that have standardized on Dell hardware it could be months before IT staff get an accurate assessment of the impact of the recall.

“It’s a huge pain in the butt,” said Chris Brown, at Wachovia Bank, where IT is asking users to check their laptop battery and call the helpdesk if they have one affected by the recall.

News of the massive recall broke earlier this month when Dell founder Michael Dell was visiting Sydney.

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