HP and Google have issued a formal recall for the defective micro-USB charger cables that have given some HP Chromebook 11 owners a nasty surprise by melting or bursting into flames during use.
"If you purchased your HP Chromebook 11 on or before December 1, 2013 and you have not received a replacement charger," Google wrote in a FAQ on Tuesday, "you should immediately stop using the original charger, which has been recalled."
Reports that the chargers were overheating first surfaced in November, prompting HP and Google to issue a notice saying they were "pausing sales" of the HP Chromebook 11.
At the time, Google said that it had only received "a small number" of reports of damaged chargers, but that the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) had advised it to halt sales anyway, pending corrective measures.
The news was a setback for HP, which had hyped its latest Chromebook in part based on its innovative charging system. Where previous Chromebooks had all used AC adapters to connect to power mains, the HP Chromebook 11 charges via a micro-USB cable, just like many smartphones and tablets do.
As of Tuesday, customers can now request a replacement for their Chromebook 11 charger by filling out a form online. The new chargers will be mailed to anyone who asks for one free of charge, and Google and HP will even cover the cost of shipping the defective charger back to them.
Only the charger itself needs to be sent back. Customers can keep their Chromebooks and continue to use them while they wait for the replacement charger, using a certified micro-USB charger from some other device to power them up in the meantime.
According to a press release from the CPSC, the recall affects approximately 145,000 units, all of which were sold in October and November. In addition, Google and HP say that any new Chromebook 11 units purchased after December 1, 2013 come with the new, improved charger in the box already, so no replacement is be necessary.
Just when you will be able to buy those new units, however, is still unknown. The HP Chromebook 11 is still listed as "coming soon" on its official website, and it isn't available for sale at Amazon, Best Buy, or HP's own online store, either.
The Reg has asked when Google and HP might be planning to resume sales of the devices. When we hear anything, we'll let you know. ®