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IBM replaces faulty AC adapters

Big Blue voluntarily recalls about 320,000 AC adapters that may pose fire hazards following nine reported instances of overheating.

IBM today voluntarily recalled about 320,000 AC adapters that may pose fire hazards.

The defective adapters were sold with certain ThinkPad 310 and ThinkPad iSeries notebooks and with the WorkPad z50, IBM's Windows CE subnotebook. About 220,000 adapters were sold in the United States, according to the company.

Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM advises consumers not to leave unattended an AC adapter plugged into a power source, as the adapter could catch fire.

The company recalled the hardware following nine reported instances of overheating AC adapters, an IBM representative said, adding that no injuries were reported.

"We just want to take care of this thing as quickly as possible," the representative said.

Analysts said that although the safety concern is likely an isolated situation, the recall adds one more headache to IBM's hardware list.

"Anytime you have a recall, there's always a perception of poor quality," said Technology Business Research analyst Lindy Lesperance.

IBM's PC division has fought to regain market share following a decision to withdraw from the retail market to focus on direct sales online.

During a conference call with financial analysts last week, chief executive Lou Gerstner warned that the company could stop making its own PCs if sales don't improve.

The defective adapters were sold with older models not currently available from IBM. They do not affect all units in the series. Of the ThinkPad 310 models, only those listed as type 2600, near the serial number, are affected. ThinkPad iSeries models, designated as type 2611, and type 2608 WordPad z50 devices also were sold with the defective hardware.

ThinkPad owners may also directly examine the AC adapters. IBM said adapters with serial numbers 12J0537, 12J0539 or 02K6562 could be defective. Replacements can be ordered from IBM, which predicted about a five-day turnaround time.

IBM will replace the adapters free of charge, including return shipping on the defective hardware. Customers who believe they may have faulty adapters can call (800) 426-3387 for replacement instructions.