ROUND ROCK, TX: Dell Computer said this week that it reached out directly to customers in last week's massive battery recall, the largest recall in the history of the consumer electronics industry, according to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
"In this case, our focus was on making sure our customers got the message," said Gretchen Miller, Dell director of product communications.
Dell had posted a voluntary recall news release on its Web site on Monday, mentioned the recall in its corporate blog, and had the Dell media relations team working with television, print, and radio outlets to notify customers.
Customers had reported six incidents of Sony-made, Dell-branded battery packs overheating in the United States since December 2005. A video of an "exploding laptop" at a Japanese conference made the rounds on the Internet in June.
Approximately four million batteries, shipped during a period of 26 months, were affected by the recall, Miller said.
"Fifteen percent of people will have a battery that is impacted," she said.
Sony, Dell, and the CPSC released the recall news together, said Rick Clancy, Sony Electronics VP of corporate communications.
"There were a tiny number of incidents, of hundreds of millions of lithium battery packs," Clancy said. He said his company's communications team was speaking with the media all week to disseminate information, but essentially Dell spearheaded the communications effort.
"It's not appropriate for us to be over communicative, because the end user is not our customer, it's Dell's," Clancy said. But "we are being as supportive as we possibly can."
Mass media and analysts are alternately praising and criticizing Dell for its handling of the recall.
"Dell's response to the battery problem has been responsible and appropriate, although it took some time for Dell to understand the true scope of the problem," said Dave Mason, host of high-tech radio talk show ComputerTalk in Tucson, AZ.