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Fitbit Force Sales Stopped and Recall Issued Because 1.7% of Users Reported Skin Irritation

Back in January, reports of the Fitbit Force activity tracker causing nasty skin irritation began to surface, causing the company to issue an apology and start an investigation into a potentially harmful threat. That investigation is now complete, and Fitbit has decided it will stop selling the product and issue a voluntary recall. Their investigation showed that only 1.7% of Force users reported any sort of skin irritation while wearing the product, but since they “care about every one of” their customers, they felt the need to take further action.  

Independent labs and medical experts who performed the investigation came to the conclusion that there were no issues with the battery or electrical systems. The results show that people may actually be experiencing “allergic contact dermatitis,” which could be a reaction to the nickel present from the surgical grade stainless steel used.

If you decide to participate in the voluntary recall, Fitbit will offer you a full a refund. In the blog post by CEO James Park below, you will find a link with instructions on how to go about getting your refund.

Tough call there for Fitbit, but we’re sure they’ll work it out in the end. I just hope this doesn’t become a disaster to their sales goals, as we are fans of their products here at Droid Life. Our own Eric reviewed the Force last month and generally enjoys everything about it.


I co-founded Fitbit in 2007 to help people lead healthier, more active lives. We have been thrilled by your response to our products, and are committed to customer satisfaction. Late last year, we began selling Fitbit Force, our most advanced activity tracker. Recently, some Force users have reported skin irritation. While only 1.7% 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.

From the beginning, we have taken this matter very seriously. We hired independent labs and medical experts to conduct a thorough investigation. Here’s what we know:

  • 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.
  • 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. For additional information related to the recall, we have set up a dedicated page on our website and a call center at 888-656-6381.

To our Force community, rest assured we’re working on our next-generation tracker and will announce news about it soon.

Thank you for your continued loyalty and support.

James Park
CEO & Co-Founder

Via: Fitbit
  • Dave12308

    And in further news, Mother Earth stopped producing peanuts because some people are allergic to them and could die if they eat them.

    What is it to bowing down to a (very) minority group of users nowadays? What about the 98.something% who do NOT react and love the product?

    Screw ’em?

  • trevorsalienarms

    Was sarcasm intended by saying “only” 1.7% of customers had issues? Or by putting “care about every one of” in quotes? Are you reporting or editorializing?

    Even ONE of those customers could whip up significant litigation, so I don’t understand why you think it’s some sort of goof, apparently.

  • guest

    it’s a junk anyway. who buys this piece of crap?

    • 213ninja

      you’re a junk.

  • StankyChikin

    Sorry… They can’t have mine back!!

  • jeff manning

    Great. So I guess this means no update that brings notifications for android

    • 213ninja

      my first thought as well, but i can live without that feature. my second thought was, great no more force related app development period…….

      • Dave

        That’s a concern, but honestly, the Force works fairly well now. It’s got a few things that can be tweaked, but for the most part, it works as advertised.

        • 213ninja

          Def agree

    • Dave

      Isn’t that kind of a novelty anyway? Are you really going to stop working out if your Force displays an incoming message? If you aren’t working out, can’t you just look at your phone? There are many other things the Force (and other activity trackers) can do or that need to be fixed/tweaked before worrying about call notifications IMO.

      • jeff manning

        Did I say I was going to stop working out or stop using the force? No.

        I can still be disappointed that they are going to stop working on integrated notifications

  • bigfire

    I have zero intent of sending it back. It works fine and they have nothing that can replace it.

    • Curious

      Can I ask what you prefer about this over the One, for example? I am considering buying, obviously not the Force anymore, but maybe its replacement… or maybe the One, since I might not want to wait.

      • bigfire

        It’s a single package. It’s water resistant. It is very accurate. I like its functionality. It basically took everything that’s wrong with Flex and fix it.

        • 5 pros that the Flex had over the Force:

          1. The obvious, you maybe allergic to it
          2. Doesn’t look bulky
          3. You can replace the band. This is awesome because bands do deteriorate. (also cheaper to replace a band than buying a new fitbit)
          4. It’s cheaper
          5. The Flex is waterproof (can take a shower with it) and not water resistant like the Force.

          The cons? Can’t tell time (use your phone) and doesn’t have a altimeter (can’t tell flight of stairs)

          • bigfire

            My problem with Flex:
            1. Whenever I want to charge it, i need to take the unit out of the band, and the band broke. I went through 3 bands before giving up and going with Flex.
            2. Altimeter.
            3. No clock
            4. No actual display of steps, calories or pretty much ANY information.

          • Adam Martinez

            Not having to take the unit out of the band to charge it is the big one for me. Mine and everybody I know with the flex had it tear from taking it out and putting it back in. Regarding this (or the flex) over the one, it’s always with me, if I had to think about bringing it then I would forget it.

          • needa

            granted i have only had mine for two weeks… i have pulled it out of the band a dozen times because i have been digging mud out by hand to get to my underground electrical conduit underneath the foundation at the barn.it gets caked with mud inside and out. it shows no signs of wanting to rip. maybe people are doing it wrong. i dunno.

          • AdDoBe

            for #5, while I know that FitBit officially says that the Force is only “water resistant” I have been showering with my Force on since I got it (X-mas) and have not had a single issue. I think they were just being conservative by saying water resistant.

          • needa

            yah i prefer my flex over the force also. for those reasons and also the force is a bit bigger. i do wish it had the time on it.

          • Neil Fujiwara

            This is my only beef with the Flex. I have a smartphone that will sync and tell me all the vitals. I don’t really need to know about stair or hill climbs. But, it is taking the place of a watch on my left wrist and when I look down I just get my flashing little lights.

      • needa

        right now you arent going to find a force. you might luck out and find a target or radio shack with one in your area. but they are all gone in my neck of the woods. you can go to walmart and pick up a flex for 99. it was on amazon earlier this week for 90. which is a steal.

        • Neil Fujiwara

          Costco had it early for 89.99, but I am not sure if they are carrying it anymore.

  • Jonathan Ly

    If you have piercings, happen to be a woman, or work with metal, already know you’re alergic to metal, you have a high risk of developing nickel contact deramtatis.

    To be honest its entitiled people getting all bent out of shape. Why would you keep wearing a product that obviously is bothering you? People really need to read up on what causes the issue before jumping the gun on Fitbit.

    • DJyoSNOW

      I clicked image from a Google search and it was gross. I get what you’re saying but would not think to test plastic and something you wear 24/7. Also wrist health trackers are a fairly new trend? I happened to get mine for free and get a light reaction.

      • Jonathan Ly

        Its not the plastic, is the nickel in the clasp that’s bothering people.

  • DJyoSNOW

    I have a similar problem but its a different tracker (lifetrak)I wondered if pro long wearing has side effects. I’m often found itching my wrist red and then cleaning the device.

  • jra716

    Just read the review for this posted from this site yesterday and was really considering buying it. Though my skin is pretty sensitive and probably prone to what these 1.7% of users are experiencing, I’d gladly risk it for a considerable discount. 😉

    • Tristan Escalada

      I have very sensitive skin and allergies, but have had no problems with my fitbit force. I’ve worn it every day for 2 months. It’s awesome. Although it would be more awesome with android notifications.

    • 213ninja

      discount? shyt, these will be up on eBay for $5000 a piece next week. glad we got ours……..