Owners of Dell’s Latitude 6430u Ultrabooks are experiencing something foul when they take the notebook out of its box for the first time, and it isn’t just its cheap plastic shell and disappointing hardware. It’s the “smell of cat urine” emanating from the keyboard.
“A few weeks ago I got a new Latitude 6430u for work,” wrote one user in the Dell 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.”
Customers first reported the problem, which Dell insists is not a health hazard caused by biological contamination, back in June. Many sent their machines back for repairs and replacements, but the issue was still present when they got their laptop back.
“I thought for sure one of my cats spayed it, but there was something faulty with it so it had to be replaced,” another customer complained. “The next one had the same exact issue. It’s embarrassing taking it to clients because it smells so bad.”
Dell first suggested that users should clean their air vents with compressed air, but this did little to alleviate the problem. Now the company is asking those with smelly machines to send them back for a replacement palm rest and keyboard. The problem was caused by a new manufacturing process, Dell says — one that has now been changed.
“The smell is not related to cat urine or any other type of biological contaminant, not is it a health hazard,” a Dell support technician told BBC News. “If you order an E6340u now, it will not have the issue.”