Dell gives defense, health, intell priority in battery replacements

Defense, civilian and intelligence customers are getting priority treatment in Dell’s battery replacement program, said Troy West, vice president and general manager of the company’s federal segment.

West said customers in national security, health care, public safety and emergency management services are first in line for the battery replacement plan.

Dell is replacing 4.1 million lithium-ion batteries in laptop computers that the company recalled Aug. 15 under a voluntary agreement with the Consumer Product Safety Commission because of potential fire hazards.

“We’re going to continue to ship [batteries] until the need is met,” West said. “But we’re not putting a timeline on when that will be.”

Dell is supplying customers in the United States primarily through the company’s Web site, where they can arrange for the exchange themselves. Others are receiving replacements through bulk shipments, which began within 48 hours of the recall, he said.

The first bulk shipment went to the Department of Veterans Affairs Aug. 17. Other bulk shipments went to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and Fort Hood, Texas, a major deployment post for troops being sent to Iraq.

For overseas customers the pattern is reversed, with most battery replacements going out in bulk shipments and coordinated through the individual military branches, West said.

“We’re managing bulk requests with specific agencies for those customers that simply don’t have access to the Web or have difficulty calling the 800 number, or the many customers that have unique security requirements,” he said, but declined to be more specific.

“We have already initiated an initial bulk shipment of more than 3,000 batteries to our Kuwait parts hub to support southwest Asia,” West said. Another shipment to Kuwait is being prepared, he added.

“We also have three Dell employees on the ground in southwest Asia supporting our defense customers in the region,” West said. He declined to give their precise location but said, “they are supporting warfighters at this time.”

Bob Brewin contributed to this article.

About the Author

David Hubler is the former print managing editor for GCN and senior editor for Washington Technology. He is freelance writer living in Annandale, Va.

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