Since the first reports of contact dermatitis caused by Fitbit Force movement trackers surfaced on the company’s forums (and gained publicity when Consumerist broke the story last month) customers have asked that the company recall the trackers. Fitbit has been happy to refund customers who have skin problems and send their trackers back. Today, the company announced that they’re recalling all Force wristbands.
This recall is voluntary, not prompted by the CPSC. The company won’t state how many trackers they’ve sold or how many people have experienced rashes. A spreadsheet maintained by the vocal group of users on the Fitbit forums shows more than 500 documented cases of skin irritation resulting from Fitbit use. In a letter to customers, Fitbit CEO James Park states that 1.7% of customers who own the Force have reported “any” skin irritation related to the device.
In case you missed our earlier coverage, here’s a refresher. The Fitbit Force is part of the hot new “wearable tech” trend. It’s a wristband that tracks users’ steps, stairs climbed, and the quality of their sleep. It follows other similar trackers from the company, including the Flex which is also a wristband but contains no altimeter.
Here’s a photo that one early rash sufferer sent to Consumerist, which is one of the least disgusting photos we’ve seen:
Here’s the statement that Fitbit sent to Consumerist:
We wanted to provide an update on our investigation into reports we have received about Force users experiencing skin irritation.
From the beginning, we’ve taken this matter very seriously. We hired independent labs and medical experts to conduct a thorough investigation, and have now learned enough to take further action. The materials used in Force are commonly found in many consumer products, and affected users are likely experiencing an allergic reaction to these materials.
While only a small percentage of Force users have reported any issue, we care about every one of our customers. We have stopped selling Force and are in the process of conducting a voluntary recall, out of an abundance of caution. We are also offering a refund directly to consumers for full retail price. We want to thank each and every member of the Fitbit community for their continued loyalty and support. We are working on our next-generation tracker and will announce news about it soon.
They don’t give an estimated date for that next-generation tracker, but we hope they take what they learned from the mysterious lab tests to improve the product.
What happens if you have the Force, you don’t have a rash, and you want to keep it? A Fitbit representative told Consumerist that they’ll continue to support the Force: they just aren’t going to sell it anymore, and will issue refunds to customers who don’t want them anymore.