Maybe it's time to make that fancy numeral zero with the line through it mandatory on all products.
Dell is probably thinking about it, as it navigates the choppy waters of the largest recall in consumer electronics history. The serial numbers on Dell's batteries do in fact use both the numeral "0" and the letter "O," Dell said late Friday on its blog, correcting earlier statements that it only used zeros in the serial numbers.
To determine whether a Dell notebook battery is subject to the recall, users are advised to visit a special Dell Web site and enter the serial number of their battery. The Web page will then tell you whether the battery is safe to use or destined for the recycling plant.
However, it can be really hard to tell the difference between the numeral "0" and the letter "O" on Dell's batteries. As confusion mounted last week, Dell told customers on its blog to assume any round character resembling a zero or an "O" was a zero.
Unfortunately, that's not the case. The first 15 characters in Dell's serial numbers only use zeros, but both zeros and "O"s can appear in the last five numbers, Dell confirmed Friday.
Making matters worse, the Web page doesn't distinguish between invalid serial numbers and the serial numbers of safe batteries: It only recognizes the serial numbers of batteries that are subject to the recall. Therefore, if you entered the serial number incorrectly, the Web page would tell you the battery is safe to use even if it's not.
If you have either a zero or an "O" in the last five letters of your battery's serial number, go back and make sure you entered it correctly. Also, check the last five characters in the second grouping of the serial number against a chart on the battery recall site, as those five characters are the key to figuring out if the battery is subject to the recall.