Fitbit Recalls Force, Promises Continued Support for Non-Affected Owners

2014-02-27_22-57-00

Fitbit halts the sale of it’s new Fitbit Force activity tracker and is issuing a recall on the already sold units following complaints from users that the trackers have given them a skin rash. The company released a statement announcing the decision and apologizing to customers just prior to HIMSS. Current Fitbit Force owners are being told that they can either apply for a full refund or can trade the force in for a different Fitbit product.

Rumors that Fitbit Force consumers were developing  rashes began to circulate in mid-January, with a formal acknowledgement of the problem coming a month after. Fitbit reports that 1.7 percent of users have reported experiencing skin rashes after wearing the rash. The complaints consistently place the rash on the wrist, directly under the Force’s battery, and appearing around two weeks after people started wearing the device.

Fitbit is investigating possible causes for the rashes but have so far been unable to definitively identify the root problem. The lack of an identified cause is the primary reason that Fitbit has chosen to not only recall sold units but to stop selling existing units. Once Fitbit fully understands what is causing the rashes, the company will likely implement corrective actions and resume sales.

Initial tests conducted by materials engineers have concluded that there are no apparent issues with either the battery or the electrical systems. Medical professionals reviewing the rashes have reported that users appear to be suffering from allergic contact dermatitis, likely caused by the nickel used in the Fitbit Force. An estimated eight percent of the population is believed to have mild nickel allergies, with the most common reaction for them being a localized rash at the point of contact.

It may be sometime before the force is returned to the market, Fitbit is rumored to be actively working on a hypoallergenic version of the band to resolve both it’s current model and any future models. In the meantime, the question that the 95 percent of Fitbit Force owners who did not develop a rash are asking is if they can keep their devices. Today, Fitbit clarified that indeed they can, and that all support and online help would continue to be available, and that they would make any attempts at disabling the units currently in use.


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