But this recall, which includes laptops from other manufacturers, could prompt other vendors using Sony batteries in their notebooks to look for a different power source.
On Friday, Sony announced that it's recalling 100,000 laptop battery packs because of safety concerns due to overheating. The latest recall mirrors previous problems with the Japanese electronics maker, which just last month had to recall 438,000 units in its Vaio notebook line over similar issues.
In that instance, Sony recalled thousands of Vaio TZ notebooks due to possible overheating and the threat of a "burn hazard." The September recall covered a staggering number Vaio TZ notebooks sold in the U.S. and elsewhere and built both here and in Japan. It included the Sony Vaio VGN-TZ100, VGN-TZ200, VGN-TZ300 and VGN-TZ2000 series. Hundreds of thousands more Vaios were recalled later as troubles persisted.
During the September recall, Sony users who were already hot under the collar came out and said Sony products have been prone to overheating for years. At the time, one Vaio owner, posting a comment on a popular product review Web site, said VAIOs have been plagued by overheating.
"Sony VAIO has had an overheating problem since 2002 models," the poster wrote. "We tried and tried to get help with my daughter's 2002 VAIO, bought accessories to cool it. Nothing worked. We are surprised it took this long for a recall."
And in 2006, Sony recalled 9.6 million batteries to the tune of roughly $360 million because they too could overheat and create a burn or fire hazard. That time, other manufacturers like Apple, Dell, Lenovo, Hewlett-Packard and Toshiba, along with Sony, had to recall product. The batteries involved in the current recalls were sold around the same time as the ones pulled back in 2006.
In this latest round of recalls, the U.S. government has announced a voluntary recall of 35,000 Sony batteries and Sony said it would recall another 65,000 worldwide. So far, there have been 19 reports of batteries overheating, including 17 reports of flames or fire, 10 of which resulted in minor property damage. Two consumers claim to have suffered minor burns from their hot notebooks.
And while customer safety and satisfaction is job No. 1 for Sony, this recent recall could burn bridges by again dragging other notebook manufactures into recall turmoil as the problem power sources are not only in Sony's own line of laptops, but also in those from Hewlett-Packard, Toshiba and Dell, which run on Sony batteries. According to Sony and the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission, this recall affects approximately 32,000 HP computers, 3,000 from Toshiba, and 150 from Dell. The remainder belongs to Sony. The costly recall could send other notebook makers shopping for an alternative battery provider for their gear.
Despite the foul-up " and Sony's track record of similar issues -- Sony is pointing the blame on factory changes and issues with raw materials, instead of fessing up and taking one on the chin.
Regardless of who is at fault, the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission advises consumers with faulty batteries to remove them immediately from their computers and contact to the manufacturer to determine if the battery is included in a recall. If it is, users can request a free replacement. The USCPSC said that once the battery is removed, laptops can be used safely by using the AC adapter as the sole power source until the new battery arrives.
The notebooks that contain the batteries under recall were sold directly by the manufacturers or through stores and online retailers for between $700 and $3,000. Additionally, some of the batteries were sold individually for between $100 and $160. For a list of affected batteries and laptop models, consumers are advised to click here.
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