Apple recalls fire risk PowerBook batteries

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Apple has recalled 28,000 rechargeable batteries used in its 15in PowerBook G4 computer worldwide after fears arose that they might burst into flames.

Customers in Australia have been asked to immediately cease using batteries with the model number A1045 and serial numbers starting HQ404, HQ405, HQ406, HQ407 or HQ408 and to return the batteries to Apple.

A spokeswoman for Apple Australia told CRN that the global recall would affect a relatively small number of batteries sold here. Unconfirmed reports suggest that about 1000 batteries sold in Australia might need to be returned.

"We don't break down numbers, but it's not a lot. It's not tonnes and tonnes," she said.

Apple headquarters has advised that the batteries may overheat, posing a fire hazard. Apple had not explained why the batteries were overheating, she said.

"Resellers are also being contacted, as are all our channel partners. We sent a communication this morning about what they need to do," the Apple spokeswoman said.

Resellers had been asked to put a sign up in their stores warning of the recall, she said.

Customers could return their batteries directly to Apple using pre-paid packaging provided by Apple. "We're sending replacements out to customers and then they send the [recalled batteries] back," she said. "It's really straightforward."

This was the first Apple product recall for at least four years, she said.

Adam Connor, director of Sydney Apple reseller Total Recall Solutions, said the battery recall wouldn't have a big effect on his business, partly because the 15in PowerBook G4 was one item out of many currently difficult to get from Apple. "We only have a few," he said.

Connor queried Apple's claim that no recalls had been needed for four years.

"They're splitting hairs really by saying that. There was the logic board pre-paid extension program," he said.

That program "wasn't exactly a recall" but involved warranty issues due to a manufacturing fault, he said.

However, he agreed that the last official Apple recall was probably several years ago. Then, the vendor had been forced to recall some AC adaptors for the PowerBook G3s, Connor said.

Apple's recall affects batteries made by South Korea's LG Chem and sold from January 2004 onwards, Apple's website said.

Customers who notice signs their batteries might have overheated, such as discolouration or melting, should stop using the equipment immediately and telephone Apple for special instructions, Apple said.

Apple would send out replacement batteries immediately. Customers could expect to receive them in five days, Apple said.

Apple in the US said it had received four reports of batteries overheating. No injuries to users had been reported at press time.

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