Fitbit has withdrawn from sale its latest and most popular activity tracker, the Fitbit Force, following complaints from users that the nickel in the wristband irritated their skin, causing rashes and even burns. Now read our Fitbit Force review.
The company has promised a “next-generation tracker” soon, so it is not known whether the Fitbit Force will ever see the light of day again or be replaced by a new device. Now read Best Activity Trackers 2014.
The Force has been on sale in the US since October but UK customers have been waiting for months for a UK release of the fitness wristband. This latest twist possiblt explains the elongated delay, as Fitbit has been aware of the allergy problem for some time.
"Some users may be reacting to nickel in the stainless steel used in the device, even though the surgical grade material meets the most stringent regulatory standards. Other users are likely experiencing an allergic reaction to the materials in the strap or the adhesives used to assemble the product," Fitbit says.
“While only 1.7 percent of Force users have reported any type of skin irritation, we care about every one of our customers. On behalf of the entire Fitbit team, I want to apologize to anyone affected.” Said Park.
“From the beginning, we have taken this matter very seriously. We hired independent labs and medical experts to conduct a thorough investigation”.
Fitbit claimed that independent test results “have not found any issues with the battery or electrical systems”.
Test results show that users are likely experiencing allergic contact dermatitis.
The company claims that all Force materials “are commonly used in consumer products”.
“However, some users may be reacting to the nickel present in the surgical grade stainless steel used in the device. Other users are likely experiencing an allergic reaction to the materials used in the strap or the adhesives used to assemble the product.
“We have now learned enough to take further action. We have stopped selling Force and have decided to conduct a voluntary recall.
“We are offering a refund directly to consumers for full retail price.
“To our Force community, rest assured we’re working on our next-generation tracker and will announce news about it soon.”
A typical Force user complaint from the Fitbit forums: "I just took my Fitbit Force off today and the skin that touches the charger connector was very sensitive and hurts. If you rub your fingers along that part of the skin it's a very different texture – kinda feels like when you burn your hand on the stove and that skin dies".
Another commented "The rash appears where the charging port metal touches the skin. It doesn't hurt, but almost looks like a chemical burn."
All the complaints were tinged with sadness as the Fitbit Force was popular and an improvement on the Fitbit Flex, which is unaffected by this problem as there is no metal that comes into contact with the skin. There are also no problems with the clip-on Fitbit Zip or One, which do not come into contact with skin.