Those serial numbers on notebook batteries can be hard to read, but you'd think a server could handle it.
However, for several hours yesterday Apple Computer's battery recall Web page was unable to recognize the serial numbers of batteries that clearly fell within the designated range listed by the company and the Consumer Products Safety Commission. Posters on CNET News.com's Talkback pages noticed the site was recognizing notebook serial numbers but not battery serial numbers, even when it was clear from the released information that the batteries were subject to the recall. iBook G4 and PowerBook G4 users who have defective batteries are supposed to enter their serial numbers into the site, which will bring up an order form for a new battery if the serial number falls into a certain range listed on the recall site.
Several posters on Apple's own support discussion boards also pointed out the problems, which we also confirmed while trying to fill out the form for a newsroom PowerBook. By Friday morning, the site appeared to be working normally, recognizing the serial numbers of batteries subject to the recall and bringing up the order form.
Apple's recall follows that of Dell, which also had problems with battery serial numbers. For a brief period of time, Dell told its customers that it didn't use the letter "O" in its battery serial numbers and to assume all circular O-like characters were zeros. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case, and Dell's Web site would recognize the serial number with the zeros as a working battery. The company later corrected itself on its blog.
Apple had a few other problems Thursday, as news of the recall hit. Both the CPSC and Apple provided URLs to the recall site that were incorrect: the CPSC's was a dead link, while Apple's was for a battery recall that took place last year. The CPSC link now redirects to the correct site. Apple replaced the old recall site about an hour after the news broke Thursday.