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Why you should pay attention to product recalls

A Sony battery in a Toshiba laptop that was part of last year's massive recall caught fire last month in Great Britain.

Here's a good rule of thumb: when a product is recalled for, say, bursting into flames, take the time to get the replacement.

A Toshiba laptop containing a recalled Sony battery caught fire and burned a desk in Great Britain last month, Toshiba said today. The laptop maker asked Sony to investigate the incident, and a short circuit in the battery pack was deemed the culprit. Toshiba says it will reach out to customers to ensure they are aware of the potential danger of continuing use of recalled batteries. A list of 28 models of affected laptop will be posted to its Web site, and Toshiba will send e-mail notifications to its customers.

Since fall 2006, Dell, Apple, Sony, Toshiba, Lenovo, Sharp, Panasonic and Acer each have issued recalls of Sony lithium-ion cell batteries after multiple reports of laptops exploding or catching on fire. In all, more than 10 million batteries were pronounced defective.