Last month, news surfaced that many users of Fitbit’s latest fitness tracker – the Force – were experiencing cases of contact dermatitis caused by the Force wristband. Many of these cases were severe, and a large number of Force users asked Fitbit to fix the problem, also asking Fitbit for refunds. Today, the company announced it has voluntarily recalled all Force bands and has stopped selling the Force until it releases the next generation of its tracker.
It’s important to note that this recall is voluntary and was not prompted by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. However, this is still big news for Fitbit – and the wearable industry – as it’s one of the first recalls of its kind. In a letter to consumers, FitBit CEO James Park says, “Independent test results have not found any issues with the battery or electrical systems,” and “test results show that users are likely experiencing allergic contact dermatitis.” Additionally, “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.”
While it’s not known how many number of Force units have been sold, Fitbit’s CEO says that only 1.7 percent of Force users have reported any type of skin irritation – however, he says, “we care about every one of our customers. On behalf of the entire Fitbit team, I want to apologize to anyone affected.” While the problem may only have affected a very small percentage of users, it’s apparently severe enough that the company has decided to stop selling Force entirely and voluntarily recall the Force “out of an abundance of caution.”
Of course, this won’t be a huge setback for Fitbit. When Jawbone recalled their UP wristbands in 2011, it caused some to question the integrity of the product for a brief moment, but clearly the company was able to rebound (and then some.) Fitbit also still has several other trackers on the market, including the Flex, its other wristband tracker (which I’m currently wearing and has not been known to cause any skin irritation) and is also working on the next generation of its tracker. No timeframe has been set for its launch, though.
If you own a Force, Fitbit has setup a page for more information about the recall where you can also claim your refund.