A fitness device known as the Fitbit Force is being voluntarily recalled by the Fitbit company because some users have been developing skin irritations after prolonged use of the product. The recall was announced this week by Fitbit CEO and Co-Founder, James Park.
The skin irritations are nothing new. In January, users of the Force began posting pictures of rashes which were showing up on their wrists directly beneath where the device was worn. At that time, Fitbit issued apologies and offered refunds, but sales of the product have continued for the past 30 days.
In Park’s letter dated February 20 on the company’s website, he apologized to anyone affected, and emphasized that his company was taking the situation very seriously. Through extensive testing by independent medical experts and labs, he said, Fitbit has determined that users are likely experiencing something called “allergic contact dermatitis,” a condition that is not contagious or life-threatening, but has the potential to be very uncomfortable, according to the Mayo Clinic. The clinic goes on to say that the issue is usually resolved within two to four weeks. Park also pointed out that the skin irritations have been reported in only 1.7 percent of those who have been using the Fitbit Force.
The Fitbit Force is an activity tracking device in the form of a bracelet made of silicon. With miniature displays and motion sensors, it allows users to monitor their body’s activity around the clock. The fitness device tracks personal data like steps, distance, calories burned, and even sleep patterns. The information can then be downloaded into a smart phone or computer.
In his explanation of the recall, Park pointed out that the test results on the Fitbit Force indicate that the skin irritations were not caused by any issues in the electrical systems or the batteries. The irritations, he said, could have been caused by users’ reaction to the nickel in the stainless steel used in the device, allergic reactions to some of the materials used in the strap, or adhesives that were used during assembly of the device.
Founded in 2007 by Park and Eric Friedman, Fitbit is a company described on their website as dedicated to helping people ”lead healthier, more active lives.” Their aim was to create a wearable product that could be used by everyone. In addition to the Force, the company offers several other activity trackers, as well as a bathroom scale that measures weight, BMI, and body fat percentage. In his apology letter, Park assured fans of the Force that his company is already working on the next generation of activity tracker and plans to announce the news soon.
As a part of the recall, Fitbit is offering a full retail price refund to any Force owners who have experienced the skin irritations. Those desiring refunds can contact Fitbit customer service directly, or fill out a form on the company’s website. They will then receive a kit in the mail which will facilitate the return of the product. Customers will then be sent a check for the purchase price within 2-6 weeks of the device’s return.
By Chuck Podhaisky