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Dell users complain that some laptops 'smell of cat wee'

The problem affecting Latitude 6430u laptops has since been resolved, the company said.

File photo of the Latitude 6430u, whose problems have now been resolved.
File photo of the Latitude 6430u, whose problems have now been resolved.

A NUMBER OF people who bought Dell Latitude 6430u laptops over the past year noticed a problem with their new toys: they smelled strongly of cat wee.

It caused bafflement among users. “This is beyond weird,” one wrote online. Another said their laptop smelt “like a pack of well hydrated feral cats have used it for target practice”.

The mystery aroma was caused by a “specific manufacturing process” and was not a hazard or any kind of biological contamination, the company said in a statement.

The manufacturing process responsible has now been changed, the statement added, meaning new Latitude 6430u units no longer smell of cat wee.

The issue first arose when a user posted on the Dell laptop support forums:

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  seems to be coming from the keyboard.

Several others chimed in:

I thought for sure one of my cats sprayed it [...] It’s embarrassing taking it to clients because it smells so bad.

and

I almost started the week with my cat at the vet…getting the needle…but after checking my bag [...] I can’t blame the cat.  Now I read this…good gosh it stinks. [...] it’s almost burning my eyes.

At first, Dell representatives advised users to clean their keyboards and use compressed air. But it soon emerged that this didn’t help.

A senior technician named Steve began responding to queries, saying that the company was investigating and adding: “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.”

Luckily, some people brought a sense of humour to the discussion.

One also suggested:

I think the fine Dell engineers have struck on a fantastic idea that could revolutionize the industry … scented computers. The current model would be the “Catitude,” which doubles as a computer and kitty scratching post.

(Steve, who evidently has the patience of a saint, said he would forward this suggestion to the engineering team.)

The problem was eventually located in the palm rest assembly, Dell said. Its statement read:

When the Latitude 6430u was launched we received feedback from some customers commenting on an odour around the laptop. Dell immediately addressed the customer comments in order to resolve the situation [...] The manufacturing process has subsequently been amended and newly purchased Latitude 6430us are not affected by the issue.

Hurray for non-cat-wee-smelling computers!

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About the author:

Michael Freeman

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