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Dell users complain laptop "smells like cat urine"

Dell Latitude

By Nicole Kobie

Posted on 30 Oct 2013 at 15:57

Dell has said it's working on a solution for laptops that were delivered to customers smelling of cat urine.

As far back as June, users started to complain that new Dell Latitude 6430u Ultrabooks were arriving with an odd smell.

One user started a thread on Dell's support forum with a post claiming the Ultrabook smelled "as if it was assembled near a tomcat's litter box".

It's embarrassing taking it to clients because it smells so bad

Another backed that up: "I thought for sure one of my cats sprayed it, but there was something faulty with it so I had it replaced. The next one had the same exact issue. It's embarrassing taking it to clients because it smells so bad."

And yet another user said: "When I started using the laptop at the end of last week I thought I smelt something odd. Well... here I am Sunday doing some work on the couch and my wife says 'what stinks like cat pee?'. I said: I think it's this laptop."

Others reported that the laptop was "unusable with the stench" and expressed concerns about the safety of the equipment. The problem doesn't affect all 6430u laptops, with forum posters reporting that only some devices are afflicted with the unsavoury odour.

One Dell moderator repeatedly suggested taking the laptops back to where it was purchased or cleaning the keyboard with compressed air, but eventually another Dell technical consultant - going by SteveB on the forums - admitted the company was gathering up affected laptops to test.

Dell today said it's figured out the root of the problem, caused by a "manufacturing process which has now been changed" - the company stressed the cause wasn't urine or any other biological material. Any of the laptops bought now shouldn't smell, Dell said.

"For everyone who currently has an E6430u affected by the issue, it's going to require replacement of a part but we must make completely sure that we have sufficient stock for everyone and also that any parts we are sending out do not also have the same issue," SteveB said. "We are working on this now and everyone involved completely understands the urgency. We appreciate everyone's patience."

One user didn't let the issue lie, and suggested Dell might do well with "scented computers" - but with nicer aromas. SteveB said he'd forward the suggestion to Dell's engineers.

Dell suggested the problem was in the palm rest assembly, and said anyone needing a replacement can contact technical support on 0844 338 1200 or at Dell's support website.

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User comments

It's obvious...

that Dell are just taking the piss...*drrm dshhh*

By vikarmo on 30 Oct 2013

Just be glad...

...they didn't go with the No. 2 hardware vendor.

(take a bow, Demmrir, of Ars Technica).

By pbryanw on 31 Oct 2013

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