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Dell: 'Manufacturing Process' Made Laptops Smell Like Cat Urine

There's more than Intel inside Dell's Latitude 6430u laptop — some customers have reported a distinct and unpleasant smell emanating from the machines:

"A few weeks ago I got a new [Latitude] 6430u for work," one user called "Three West" complained on Dell's hardware support forum. "The machine is great, but it smells as if it was assembled near a tomcat's litter box. It is truly awful!"

In a followup, "Hotecha" posted: "Same experience. I thought for sure one of my cats sprayed it, but there was something faulty with it so I had it replaced. The next one had the same exact issue."

"It's embarrassing taking it to clients because it smells so bad," he added.

The stench seems to have been noticed early this summer, several months after the laptop's release. In July, a Dell tech support person recommended "[cleaning] the laptop air vents using [a] can of compressed air." To which, Three West replied: "No amount of compressed air is going to help the awful stench coming from the keyboard."

On Wednesday, Dell issue this statement:

"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," the statement said.

"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."

But it couldn't have come soon enough for a 6430u owner who goes by the handle "passflips" on the forum:

"Dear Dell, Do you know what my wife and I went through because of this? How terrible we feel because we scolded a cat that did nothing wrong? A cat named 'Jerry' (odd name for a cat, I know) that has been a part of our family for 18 years, because we thought he was becoming senile or having bladder/kidney issues? Not only do we feel terrible for scolding him, we wasted countless veterinarian bills trying to determine why he was urinating on my 6430u. Turns out Jerry is as good as always, and I want Dell held accountable for this misery."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.

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