A Stink Over Laptops: Dell Blames Palm Rest For 'Cat Urine' Smell


Dell responded Thursday to a growing stink made by some Latitude customers that say their laptops smell like "cat urine" and promised to replace the offending systems' palm rest assembly. Dell added it has changed the laptop manufacturing process that caused the problem.

Complaints trickled in over the past few weeks to Dell support forums with customers complaining their Latitude 6430u notebooks were emitting a foul odor from the notebook's palm rest. The issue escalated when a user "Three West" posted to a Dell support forum, "The machine is great, but it smells as if it was assembled near a tomcats litter box. It is truly awful."

On Thursday, Dell cleared the air on the topic and issued an official statement to CRN:

"When the Latitude 6430u was launched, we received feedback from some customers commenting on an odor around the laptop. Dell immediately addressed the customer comments in order to resolve the situation, and an investigation revealed that this was occurring as a result of a specific manufacturing process. We would like to reassure customers that the odor was not related to biological contamination nor did it present a health hazard. The manufacturing process has subsequently been amended and newly purchased Latitude 6430us are not affected by the issue. Any customer who has a system with the odor can contact our technical support team at 1-800-456-3355 or www.dell.com/support and we will arrange to replace the palm rest assembly."

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The problem was confirmed earlier this week by a senior Dell technical support member who assured that the problem was not related to a biological contaminant.

Dell partners contacted by CRN said they haven't received any reports of smelly Latitude notebooks. "Some electronics can have a unique smell out of the box, but nothing horrible that doesn't go away," said Michael Goldstein, president and CEO of LAN Infotech.

The problem appears isolated to the Latitude 6430u.

PUBLISHED OCT. 31, 2013