simple.b-dis-jpg.ha14bda3b3e3bd6c06a64b46a34a11538.packFitbit issued a voluntary recall of the Fitbit Force Wristband Activity Tracker on February 21, 2014 offering a refund to its customers. On March 12, 2014 the Consumer Product Safety Commission made it an official recall. This means that Fitbit legally can no longer sell the Force nor can anyone else sell or resell it. The models affected are FB402BK, FB402BKS, FB402SL and FB402SLS.

The CPSC advised Fitbit to inform their Force customers of the recall via its popular Twitter and Facebook accounts as well as their forum and to contact affected customers directly. Fitbit pledged it would be notifying its Fitbit Force users by email concerning the recall and full retail price refund offer. I checked both Fitbit’s Twitter and Facebook sites and was happy to see they had already posted the information.

FitbitVerified account ‏@fitbit
The Fitbit Force voluntary recall was officially announced on 3/12 by the CPSC and Fitbit. Please visit http://www.fitbit.com/forcesupport for more info
2:32 PM – 12 Mar 2014

Why Is the Fitbit Force Being Recalled?

The reason for the recall is that the Fitbit Force was causing an allergic reaction for some of its users resulting in redness, itchiness, rashes or blistering. Since its introduction into the market in October 2013, 1 million trackers were sold in the United States and 28,000 were sold in Canada (according to the CPSC). Out of those Fitbit has reported 9,900 cases of rashes and 250 cases of blistering which translates into about 1 out 100 users being affected. However, Fitbit Force users claim the actual reported cases on Fitbit’s own forum indicate much higher numbers.

What Is the Cause of the Allergic Reaction?

According to the independent labs and medical experts they hired, Fitbit states allergic contact dermatitis seems to be the problem but the cause remains unclear. One suspect may be the nickel in the surgical-grade stainless steel on the back of the tracker as nickel is known to be a common allergen. However, according to the Mayo Clinic, the nickel should not be allergenic when contained in surgical-grade stainless steel. Fitbit also affirms that all stringent regulatory standards were met in the production of the Fitbit Force.

Other allergy-causing suspects may be in the material or the assembling adhesive used in the wristband. Also as the Force tracker is worn all day long even when sleeping, traces of soaps and moisturizers (which are common irritants) remaining near the wristband may even be the cause.

According to Fitbit, the Force wristbands are made of an elastomer material that does not contain latex and is used in many sports watches on the market. The surgical-grade stainless steel used in the clasps and casing are also commonly used in watches, jewelry and similar products that touch the skin.

What about Fitbit Force users that experienced no allergic reaction?

Although Fitbit has stopped selling the Force, they will continue to provide support to the Force customers who did not have any allergic reaction and want to continue using them. For other customers who feel uneasy and don’t want to continue using the Force, Fitbit will issue a full refund to them as well.

Information for Canadian Customers of the Fitbit Force

Health Canada has also issued a recall for the Fitbit Force with model numbers FB402BK-CAN, FB402BKS-CAN, FB402SL-CAN, FB402SLS-CAN and UPC numbers 898628002885, 898628002892, 898628002960, 898628002977.

It is also illegal to redistribute, sell or give away a recalled product in Canada according to the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act.

How to Get A Full Refund for the Fitbit Force Activity Tracker

If you are one of the Force users affected by an allergic reaction or don’t feel comfortable wearing your Fitbit Force anymore, all you need to do to get a full refund is fill in a form requesting a return kit with a prepaid shipping envelope by either of the following 2 options:

The Last Word

It is to Fitbit’s credit in the way it has handled this issue, first by doing a voluntary recall offering a full refund a month before the official recall by the CSPC. As the CSPC confirms, companies rarely give refunds, never mind full refunds at that.

Certainly they could have reached out more to their Fitbit Force users to make them aware of the initial voluntary recall, but Fitbit did hire independent labs and medical experts who found no problems with the Force materials and which did comply with all the tough regulatory standards.

Finally, they have made getting the full refund an easy process by phone or by internet where the user does not even have to pay the usual return shipping fee and will get his refund within 2 to 4 weeks upon reception of the returned Fitbit Force tracker.

For more information, check out http://www.fitbit.com/forcesupport

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