Sony's global recall of 9.6 million laptop batteries is expected to cost the manufacturer more than £230m. But what about the amount it costs IT retailers and customers in terms of the time, labour and headaches involved in finding the affected batteries, ordering new ones and replacing them?

Jack Gold, an industry analyst, said last week that a typical business with 5,000 affected laptops could expect to incur an unreimbursed cost of £335,000 for such things as lost productivity, shipping and the labour of in-house technicians and end-users. That expense would be incurred even though Sony is replacing the batteries for free, he said.

For the estimated three million laptop batteries already returned by business users, the unreimbursed costs so far total £200m, said Gold, an analyst at J Gold Associates. The batteries were recalled because they are subject to short-circuiting, which can cause some computers to overheat or even burst into flames.

Finding and replacing an average laptop battery will cost £67, based on user and technician time lost, plus shipping costs, Gold said. He estimated the actual replacement and related tasks might take 15 minutes, and he said the per-hour cost of a technician's salary and benefits stood at £42.

Four IT managers told us they have replaced Sony laptop batteries in their organisations through their laptop manufacturers, but none even ventured to guess what their own labour and lost productivity costs would be.