Dell Recalls 4.4 Million Notebook AC Adapters

Dell announced the recall--which involves Latitude, Precision and Inspiron notebook adapters--in cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CSPC). The recall only affects the adapters and not the notebooks, Dell said. About 2.9 million of the adapters were sold in the United States.

The CSPC said businesses and consumers should stop using the recalled adapters immediately. The AC adapters were manufactured by Delta Electronics of Taipei, Taiwan. Delta also was the vendor involved when IBM announced an AC adapter recall for its notebooks in September. That recall, also done in conjunction with the CSPC, involved 225,000 AC adapters.

The Dell adapters involved in the current recall have the words "DELL" and "P/N 9364U," P/N 7832D" or "P/N 4983D" printed on the back of the unit. They were shipped to customers between September 1998 and February 2002. The adapters were also sold separately, including in response to service calls, for between $30 to $70. The advanced port replicators and docking stations sold for $300 to $600.

Dell will send consumers with recalled adapters a free replacement. Those who believe they are affected by the recall can call Dell at (800) 418-8590 or go to Dell's Web site. The latest recall follows a Dell power adapter recall for 28,000 systems in July.

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Tyler Dikman, chief executive of CoolTronics, a Dell reseller, said his company will be on the lookout for the adapters when servicing Dell notebooks. Dikman added that he doesn't expect the recall to affect his Dell sales and that, overall he is happy with the quality of Dell notebooks.

Most of the components for notebooks--whether they are from Dell, IBM or Hewlett-Packard--come from the same suppliers, Dikman noted. "Dell is lucky this involves just a power adapter," Dikman said. "Once you have to get inside the notebook system, that costs a lot more money. You can't have an end-user customer taking out RAM or pulling apart a [notebook] screen assembly."

The recall could end up costing Dell tens of millions of dollars, given the $30 to $70 price tag of the adapters, Dikman said. "The question is, how many of these computers are still being used, especially the ones from '98," he said. "It is rare you will find a 6-year-old notebook."

A Dell spokesman said the company doesn't expect the recall to be "material" to business and, therefore, not have an impact on quarterly results. The spokesman declined to comment on how much the recall could end up costing the company, or if Delta Electronics or Dell would be responsible for the cost of the recall.