When I first read that Apple was recalling batteries on certain laptops, I didn't think for a minute that the iBook G4 I own had anything to do with it. Sure, the battery did get extremely hot at times, but if anything, it gr_479h194.jpgwas comforting, not unlike a sleeping cat. I certainly didn't (want to) think that my innocent little iBook would ever explode. But remembering the burnt out cab of the pick-up truck pictured on the front-page of The New York Times compelled me to scratch in "Check On Apple Recall" on my To-Do list.

Check on Apple Recall I did. I googled "Apple Recall" (I no longer bother with extensive webpage searches) and came across the link that directed me to the page on Apple's Battery Exchange program. (Having an overactive imagination, I thought that the idea of a Battery Exchange was far more exotic than a Battery Recall. I conjured up visions of sending my Apple battery off to study theatre in London or study the culture of the Maasai in Africa, only to return a more cultured, worldly and sophisticated battery than when it had first arrived. Also, the word "recall" to me seemed to imply that I'd bought a cheap product, one where manufacturers give very little thought to quality. After all, I never hear about Maybachs getting recalled.)

The Battery Exchange site clearly outlines how to figure out if your battery is among those "eligible for the exchange program."  The site very clearly lists which products, model numbers and serial numbers are affected. There is no possible way to be confused. It was there that I very quickly found that my battery was one of the ones eligible for the exchange program. Before I could fret about being without my battery or how a battery can be properly shipped, I noticed the Frequently Asked Questions box said that I would not have to send in my battery before receiving a replacement. In fact, all I had to do was fill out an online form with my name, address, computer serial number and battery serial numbers (they pointed out that you would be able to find the serial numbers very easily on the computer itself and without having to consult any papers that came with purchase). I did not have to verify that I bought the laptop, make copies of any receipts from the Apple Store or explain that I had moved from Boston, where my laptop had originally been delivered.

Filling out the form took less than one minute and the site verified that I was eligible in seconds. I immediately received a message that explained that my new battery would arrive in 3-5* business days. It explained that when the new battery did arrive, I should put my old battery into the pre-addressed, pre-paid shipping package that would come with the new battery and drop it in the mailbox. In the meantime, I shouldn't use my battery and just use the AC adapter to power my laptop. Of course, not using my battery is somewhat annoying, but I'd prefer that to not being able able to use my computer at all or having it incinerate my den.

I can imagine a far more difficult way of recalling batteries and verifying whether or not a consumer is eligible, but frankly, I don't want to. It's difficult to be impressed by a company once it's initiated a recall on a vital component of an original purchase, but I believe that Apple has provided a nearly painless way to get your battery exchanged.

Just to add: Dell has a Battery Return Program that follows the same basic recall procedure that Apple has instituted. The way the information on the site is presented may try the patience of a frazzled customer and it does not immediately answer important questions like, "Will I have to haul myself down to the post office in order to return this battery and wait two years for a replacement?" Also, the point that the battery eligible for replacement is one that says, "DELL" and indicates that it was either made in Japan or China, or made in Japan but assembled in China. This is not sufficiently clear on the site. The fearful/annoyed customer would have to swim through many lines of text in order to come upon that point, which is not even bolded.

*The Apple Battery Exchange Program site's FAQ section says it would take 4-6 weeks for a replacement battery to arrive, depending on the battery's availability. An email from Apple to me confirmed that it would only take 3-5 business days for the battery for my iBook G4 to arrive.