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Allergic reactions cause Fitbit to recall wrist-worn Force fitness tracker

post #1 of 39
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Apparent skin irritation issues have forced Fitbit to cease sales of its wrist-worn, iPhone-compatible Force, and also to recall units of the fitness tracker that are already on the market.

Fitbit


The official Fitbit Force recall notice was posted by the company on its website this week, in which CEO James Park formally apologized to anyone affected by the apparent issues. He revealed that 1.7 percent of Force users have reported skin irritation from using the device, and test results show that those people are likely experiencing allergic contact dermatitis.

"All Force materials are commonly used in consumer products," Park wrote. "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."

Sales of the Force have been halted, and a voluntary recall is now underway for the product. Park explained that although some users have seen allergic reactions, independent tests have not found any issues with the device's battery or electrical systems.

Users seeking more information can visit the official recall page, or call 888-656-6381.

Park also promised that Fitbit is working on a next-generation tracker that will presumably take the place of the now-unavailable Force. Though no official details were given, the CEO said his company will share details "soon."

AppleInsider reviewed the Fitbit Force in December, and we did not experience any skin irritation issues in our tests. The wrist-worn step counter features a tiny LED display, and a future update is scheduled to send iPhone notifications to its screen via Bluetooth. There is no indication whether those plans have changed given this week's discontinuation of the product.
post #2 of 39
And this is exactly why Apple waits until other companies "test the waters" before releasing a product. Apple just got taught by Fitbit what not to do.
post #3 of 39
A forced recall?
Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of a rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of a rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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post #4 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by ktappe View Post

And this is exactly why Apple waits until other companies "test the waters" before releasing a product. Apple just got taught by Fitbit what not to do.

Yeah, 'cause wristwatches are such a new invention ;-)

To quote The Guinness Book of Records:
Quote:
The first wristwatch was made for a woman, Countess Koscowicz of Hungary, by Swiss watch manufacturer Patek Philippe in 1868.
Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of a rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of a rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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post #5 of 39

Gotta stop making them out of peanuts.

post #6 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

Yeah, 'cause wristwatches are such a new invention ;-)

To quote The Guinness Book of Records:
post #7 of 39
Though that fact has absolutely nothing to do with Fitbit or his post, but congrats on taking/having time to research it out ; > \
post #8 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

A forced recall?

They were forced to voluntarily recall the Force.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Apparent skin irritation issues have forced Fitbit to cease sales of its wrist-worn, iPhone-compatible Force, and also to recall units of the fitness tracker that are already on the market.

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post #9 of 39
This is the biggest confirmation that Apple is about to release a new product... People's wrists are somehow sensing that Apple is close to releasing a wrist-device and are having an allergic reaction from wearing what will soon be a sub-par device.
post #10 of 39

1.7%? Did that really justify a complete recall? I'd suspect that Timex watches have a similar skin irritation rate.

post #11 of 39

Where I used to work, the employees had problems with the wrist RF units they had to wear. There were nickel snaps that held the RF unit in place on the wristband, and they would make contact with the person's skin, irritating the heck out of some of them. They took to wearing a cut-off sock over their wrist to avoid the stupid things. "Surgical-grade" stainless steel shouldn't include nickel in any great proportion, just because so many people have allergic reactions to it.

post #12 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by sessamoid View Post
 

1.7%? Did that really justify a complete recall? I'd suspect that Timex watches have a similar skin irritation rate.

 

Not if they use Nickel free stainless.

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post #13 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave MacLachlan View Post
 

Where I used to work, the employees had problems with the wrist RF units they had to wear. There were nickel snaps that held the RF unit in place on the wristband, and they would make contact with the person's skin, irritating the heck out of some of them. They took to wearing a cut-off sock over their wrist to avoid the stupid things. "Surgical-grade" stainless steel shouldn't include nickel in any great proportion, just because so many people have allergic reactions to it.

 

I see that the recall instructions state that "Once your Fitbit Force is returned and confirmed affected, a reimbursement check will be issued and sent directly to you within 2-6 weeks after receipt of the affected product."

 

Wonder how they'll know if it's one of the items affected. And why some would be affected and not others. Maybe they're onto something there. The speculation of nickel content makes sense.

post #14 of 39
I had a Force, that never once successfully synchronized with my phone or laptop. The clasp on the strap was also useless. I returned it (paying for shipping in both directions). I'll never buy a fitbit product ever again.
post #15 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by GQB View Post

Gotta stop making them out of peanuts.

And gluten.

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post #16 of 39

Yeah, stainless steel is the problem. That's why it's not used in bands that go around the wrist.

…oh, wait.

post #17 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by BobSchlob View Post
 

Yeah, stainless steel is the problem. That's why it's not used in bands that go around the wrist.

…oh, wait.

 

SOME grades of stainless steel are the problem.

 

That's why they make nickel free.

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post #18 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by hill60 View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by BobSchlob View Post
 

Yeah, stainless steel is the problem. That's why it's not used in bands that go around the wrist.

…oh, wait.

 

SOME grades of stainless steel are the problem.

 

That's why they make nickel free.

So is "surgical grade" stainless a lesser grade than "Standard - Cheapo - Casio wristband grade"?

post #19 of 39

Use better quality materials, problem solved.

post #20 of 39
Allergic to the Force, he is....hmmm
post #21 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

They were forced to voluntarily recall the Force.

I think he was making a play on words with the word force.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gavza View Post

I had a Force, that never once successfully synchronized with my phone or laptop. The clasp on the strap was also useless. I returned it (paying for shipping in both directions). I'll never buy a fitbit product ever again.

Mine synced fine with the iOS app. My only contention is the poorly designed clasp. Just one time not making sure it was clasped properly and it fell off somewhere. I enjoyed the product up until that point so I'd consider buying again once the clasp issue is resolved.

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post #22 of 39

I wonder when manufacturers will be forced to include allergic reaction disclaimers on the outside of the packaging. 

post #23 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

They were forced to voluntarily recall the Force.

I think he was making a play on words with the word force.

Oh. I thought he was criticizing the AI sentence saying "Apparent skin irritation issues have forced Fitbit to cease sales..." when they were clearly not forced in the legal sense. I'm guessing they were being proactive perhaps in response to some angry allergic people threatening to go ballistic on social media. Anyway it is a pretty expensive move I'd imagine.

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post #24 of 39

Amazing. Nickel is one of the most common contact dermatitis allergies out there, and somehow they failed to avoid this. I am allergic, and for things like jewelry/belt buckles  and what not, clear nail polish covering the area of contact solves the problem — but I have a feeling this might not work for biometric sensors that probably need direct skin contact. 

 

Fail.

post #25 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

Oh. I thought he was criticizing the AI sentence saying "Apparent skin irritation issues have forced Fitbit to cease sales..." when they were clearly not forced in the legal sense. I'm guessing they were being proactive perhaps in response to some angry allergic people threatening to go ballistic on social media. Anyway it is a pretty expensive move I'd imagine.

You're case sounds more plausible than mine.

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post #26 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by fastasleep View Post
 

Amazing. Nickel is one of the most common contact dermatitis allergies out there, and somehow they failed to avoid this. I am allergic, and for things like jewelry/belt buckles  and what not, clear nail polish covering the area of contact solves the problem — but I have a feeling this might not work for biometric sensors that probably need direct skin contact. 

 

Fail.

It's a feature, not a bug. In addition to monitoring other biometric conditions it also helps to notify you if you are allergic to nickel.  /s

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post #27 of 39
Oh... I didn't put that thing on my wrist... I thought it was an adjustable Prince Albert. It works with iBang.
post #28 of 39

It's the traces of lead and arsenic, seriously, this likely wouldn't have happen if they used better quality materials. I wonder how many people will be affected by it though?

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post #29 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by carloblackmore View Post

This is the biggest confirmation that Apple is about to release a new product... People's wrists are somehow sensing that Apple is close to releasing a wrist-device and are having an allergic reaction from wearing what will soon be a sub-par device.

Wonderful comment!
post #30 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

It's a feature, not a bug. In addition to monitoring other biometric conditions it also helps to notify you if you are allergic to nickel.  /s

Thanks for an amusing post!
post #31 of 39

A friend of mine went to the Apple store today in SoCal and reported that the fitbit is still on sale.

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post #32 of 39

Count me as sensitive to the adhesive and/or plasticizers used in the strap -- thanks to AppleInsider for the article, and a pox upon Fitbit for visiting a truly horrible rash on my wrist and then not doing more than providing a simple refund. Great to hear they're working on an improved unit: now with even bigger and more pustulent sores!

 

The lack of any offer of a replacement unit speaks volumes about their inability to actually fix their rather serious manufacturing problem. They're likely just outsourcing manufacturing to some subpar hacks in China -- would have been nice to see them openly switch shops in the face of this, rather than just trumpeting their next uni, in some sort of evil attempt to turn suffering into advertising.

post #33 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by aestival View Post

Count me as sensitive to the adhesive and/or plasticizers used in the strap -- thanks to AppleInsider for the article, and a pox upon Fitbit for visiting a truly horrible rash on my wrist and then not doing more than providing a simple refund. Great to hear they're working on an improved unit: now with even bigger and more pustulent sores!

The lack of any offer of a replacement unit speaks volumes about their inability to actually fix their rather serious manufacturing problem. They're likely just outsourcing manufacturing to some subpar hacks in China -- would have been nice to see them openly switch shops in the face of this, rather than just trumpeting their next uni, in some sort of evil attempt to turn suffering into advertising.

I'm not laughing at your travails, but thanks for adding to this thread's comic mirth!
post #34 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post
 

It's a feature, not a bug. In addition to monitoring other biometric conditions it also helps to notify you if you are allergic to nickel.  /s

 

Win.

post #35 of 39
Funny how there's no mention of nickel in the apple products. It took awhile, and finding a group on the Internet to figure out what was going on with my hands. Now my laptop and iPads are completely covered with tape, which worked for awhile, now for extra safety I also tape my hands if I'm in for a long session. It does take a LOT of exposure - I'd been using Apple products for years with no problems. A marathon session of 12 hours a day for a week with my laptop and an iPad in one hand started it. Sensitivity seems to increase - it takes less and less exposure to start an outbreak once it begins. The troublesome part is, you have no idea what else nickel is in. Pliers? The handle on my stove? Jewelry? All metal now us suspect. I've read 5 major news stories this week about fitbit. Still waiting for Apple to come clean. Or at least assure me there's none in the track- pad, or if there is, they'll change it. Once my fingers go I'll have to give up the laptop.
And for those who don't know what the reaction is, it doesn't start on the surface of your skin like a rash. It starts deep. With small bumps that move up to just under the surface of your skin and get bigger and quite painful and start multiplying. The area turns red and the pain intensifies and is still deep in the flesh not just topical. Soon layers of skin start to go. It's not pleasant.
post #36 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by oahujean View Post

Funny how there's no mention of nickel in the apple products. It took awhile, and finding a group on the Internet to figure out what was going on with my hands. Now my laptop and iPads are completely covered with tape, which worked for awhile, now for extra safety I also tape my hands if I'm in for a long session. It does take a LOT of exposure - I'd been using Apple products for years with no problems. A marathon session of 12 hours a day for a week with my laptop and an iPad in one hand started it. Sensitivity seems to increase - it takes less and less exposure to start an outbreak once it begins. The troublesome part is, you have no idea what else nickel is in. Pliers? The handle on my stove? Jewelry? All metal now us suspect. I've read 5 major news stories this week about fitbit. Still waiting for Apple to come clean. Or at least assure me there's none in the track- pad, or if there is, they'll change it. Once my fingers go I'll have to give up the laptop.
And for those who don't know what the reaction is, it doesn't start on the surface of your skin like a rash. It starts deep. With small bumps that move up to just under the surface of your skin and get bigger and quite painful and start multiplying. The area turns red and the pain intensifies and is still deep in the flesh not just topical. Soon layers of skin start to go. It's not pleasant.

When you say you're waiting for them to "come clean" it sounds accusatory. Do you have reason to believe their aluminum Macs or their glass trackpad are actual nickel?

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post #37 of 39
Allergic reaction is BS, peanut butter is also not recalled from the market because some people are allergic.

More likely are the plastic contains real toxins, or they have a patent issue or some other reason to get the product of the market, the potential causes are endless, but I don't buy the allergy excuse.
post #38 of 39
I'm actually allergic to their crappy software. Set the date on your tracker and it wipes out all of your historical data? Garbage. I got rid of my One. The M7 in the 5S made FitBit redundant, anyhow.
post #39 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by elmoofo View Post

I'm actually allergic to their crappy software. Set the date on your tracker and it wipes out all of your historical data? Garbage. I got rid of my One. The M7 in the 5S made FitBit redundant, anyhow.


Agreed! After one year I was on my third One... when that decided not to work anymore I sent it back for good. I'm happy with my Moves-App on iPhone 5s - accurate enough!

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