Blazing laptops - are you happy with your Dell?

August 23, 2006

Battery recall underscores image problem

Battery recall underscores image problem

The recall of fire-hazard batteries from 4.1 million Dell laptops comes at a time when the giant computer maker is trying to upgrade its reputation. Dell’s score in the American Consumer Satisfaction Index fell from 79 in 2004 to 74 in 2005. “Slipping customer service has been a problem,” an ACSI analyst wrote. The ACSI is produced by the business school at the University of Michigan in partnership with the American Society for Quality and consulting firm CFI Group.

In response to complaints, Dell is waging a $100 million campaign to improve its care and feeding of customers. It includes hiring more than 2,000 sales and support staff, retraining old hands, and strengthening its call-center infrastructure. The investment seems to be paying off. Dell’s ACSI score rebounded to 78 this year.

While the battery recall adds to Dell’s troubles, it’s worth noting that computer makers Apple and HP have suffered through smaller battery recalls of their own in recent years. And more recalls may be around the bend. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission plans to study whether Sony lithium-ion batteries--the subject of the Dell recall--pose a fire hazard in all brands of laptops. According to the commission, Dell had received scattered reports of the batteries overheating and catching on fire.

To find out if a Dell laptop of yours has a battery under the recall, visit https://www.dellbatteryprogram.com. The website helps you determine if your battery is subject to recall and, if so, helps you order a replacement free of charge.