A NUMBER of Dell laptops have been accused of smelling like the worst parts of a cat's daily routine and will see their palm rests replaced.
The Dell Latitude 6430u laptop is the subject of some impassioned discussion on the Dell support forums. You will need to register, or already have an existing registration, to read them.
There you will see messages from users that complain that their laptop smells like a cat litter tray. We are being polite. Actually, the laptops are accused of smelling like cat pee.
A cat pee odour, as we are sure you will agree, is not a big selling point for anything, except maybe some sort of mouse repellant.
There are some six pages of comments and Dell puts in its first appearance with the suggestion that users clean their laptop.
It appears that users would be happy to do this, but only by cleansing it with fire. None seem to want to keep a cat piss smelling laptop around the house, in the office, or anywhere near their laps.
Embarrassingly, the smell was first brought to Dell's attention in June. Comments about the problem remain popular posts in October.
"New 6430u smells awful," kicks off the first negative comment, posted back in those hazy days of late spring.
"So a few weeks ago I got a new Lattitude 6430u for work. The machine is great, but it smells as if it was assembled near a tomcats litter box. It is truly awful!" it added. "It seems to be coming from the keyboard. Anybody got any advice on removing the smell?"
Dell responded to this fairly quickly, and advised the user to take immediate action with cleaning products and elbow grease.
"Remove the keyboard and try to clean it with a soft cloth. Also use a can of compressed air to clean the Keyboard area," said a representative 13 days later. "Please follow the instructions from the manual to remove the keyboard."
Dell responded again to another poster who had assumed that his cat had "sprayed" his laptop. "I am sorry about this, you can clean the laptop air vents using the can of compressed air, if the issue still persists," said one of Dell's forum posters. "I would suggest you to contact the local technician and they will help you further."
The response to this from the original poster was a glib. "No amount of compressed air is going to help the awful stench coming from the keyboard," he warned.
Later one commenter said that he had returned his laptop to Dell, but on its return was still presented with something that smells like the back end of a moggie. By August Dell was telling people, "We hope to provide a fix very shortly."
Still in August, Dell had engineers on the case. "Earlier this week, we arraigned [sic] for several customer systems to be shipped to our engineering team for evaluation," it said. "We are currently waiting on these units to arrive. Based on information collected so far, biological contamination is not suspected. As soon as we have more information, we'll update the thread."
A couple of weeks later Dell said that people were not playing host to biological hazards.
"Dell Engineering and our suppliers have been analyzing a captured unit and are close to a root cause. A biological contaminate/health hazard is not suspected at this time," it said. "We appreciate everyone's patience and hope to post more information within a week."
Still more cat pee related complaints came in, prompting the Dell forum chap to stick his neck out and say that no Mr Tiddles was doing widdles in its factories.
"I'm waiting for them to provide some more info outlining the next steps. When they do, I should be able to put out some more detailed information," he said.
"I'll go out on a limb here and say that the smell is not related to cat urine or any other type of biological contaminate nor is it a health hazard."
That was still in September. People were still buying the Dell Latitude 6430u laptop and were still complaining about its stench. Two weeks ago, in early October, a root cause was found, and it was not an incontinent kitty.
"The smell was related to a manufacturing process that has now been changed. The smell is not in any way related to biological contamination," said Dell. "The smell is not at all health hazard. If you order an E6430u now, it will not have the issue."
Later it added, "As for everyone out there with a unit that still exhibits the symptoms, we haven't forgotten about you and will make things right."
Later still came the suggestion that users would get a replacement part. Attached to this was the note that it might take some time to sort this out.
Meanwhile, users kept popping up to say that their cat-less home laptop smells like a cat party. One claimed to be on his fifth smelly unit.
Still the complaints kept coming. Today, 30 October, Dell has added a new post, saying that cat pee laptop owners should contact their local provider and request a new palm rest. It did say that the laptops would have to be under warranty, though.
When Apple had issues with an iPhone and people's hands it gave punters a rubber band to act as a barrier. We recommend that Dell follow its lead, and will share with it a solution for free.
The Dell Clothes Peg: Nose Edition, could be provided free to any olfactory offended users. µ