Dell Latitude 6430u owners complain the ultrabook smells like cat piss

In what could very well be the funniest and most bizarre news of the week, a large number of Latitude 6430u owners have complained on Dell's Community forums that their shiny new business-grade ultrabooks smell like cat piss. As far as I know, the US company has not announced a new, peculiar scent that would differentiate the ultrabook from its competitors.

The lengthy thread, that dates back to mid-June 2013, is filled with posts from Dell customers complaining about the unusual smell. As you can imagine, this has lead to some embarrassing moments. One of the users has taken it so far as to allegedly kill his cat, after assuming the animal was to blame for the problem. Others have been less extreme in their actions, with most owners focusing on highlighting the issue and asking for a solution.

"I want you to know that I killed our 1 year old cat, thinking it was pissing on my computer each night and now come across THIS forum telling me otherwise. Not only do I want a new computer, I want a new cat, vet fees, letter of apology and payment for my divorce lawyer, since my wife has left me after finding this out", says askanyoneelse.

In one of the first posts in the thread, hotecha said that even the replacement arrived with the same peculiar smell. The owner admitted that "It's embarrassing taking it to clients because it smells so bad".

Another user, cnadir, posting in the same thread, said: "I am the technology coordinator at Washington DC public high school. We have about 300 Dell Latitude 6430u laptops. 60 have been issued to teachers for the school year. So far, two staffers have complained of the cat urine smell".

The problem appears to extend outside of the US, with Richard saying: "Unfortunately same problem here in the NL. I'm the second one in our company with this problem, cleaning is not possible, it doesn't go away. Mine is on its way to Dell now to replace keyboard and palm-rest. The smell isn't coming from the fan on below, but definitely from the palm-rests".

Richard followed up with a new post, saying "Today they have replaced my keyboard and palm rest at [t]he office. I am not sure if the smell is really gone, it seems not to... We'll keep an eye on it together with the guys from our ICT dept and local Dell mechanics. Can be that th[e]y have to dig deeper for this problem...".

The US company is aware of this problem, as Dell employees have responded in the thread with a number of solutions (none of which appeared to resolve the issue, apparently). One of its representatives, who goes by the userhandle Dell-SteveB, posted the following information:

We really appreciate everyone's patience as we work thru this issue. The problem has been resolved and the past few weeks I have been waiting on engineering to release detailed information on a root cause and resolution. We are currently waiting on final engineering failure analysis for a definitive root cause which is expected to come any day now. Once we have this, we can make an official comment. In the meantime, I'll provide a few details of what we do know.

  • The smell was related to a manufacturing process that has now been changed
  • The smell is not in any way related to biological contamination
  • The smell is not at all health hazard
  • If you order an E6430u now, it will not have the issue

As soon as we have final engineering failure analysis, more information will be posted on how to immediately resolve the issue. We hope to have the information this week so please keep watching this thread.

Dell has advised all effected customers to call the local support line, in order to receive a replacement for the palm rest. Interestingly enough the US company said that the ultrabooks have to be under warranty, however "exceptions in extraordinary cases" will be made.

Photo Credit: Kortisa/Shutterstock

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