Fitbit stops selling Force activity tracker, issues voluntary recall

Fitbit has stopped selling the popular Force activity tracking band after learning that a small percentage of users have been experiencing skin irritation. The company has also issued a voluntary recall.
Fitbit (see disclosure) provided the following statement to Gigaom:

“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.”

Fitbit CEO James Park goes into more detail on the Fitbit Force support page. He outlines the findings from the medical studies, which include:

  • 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.

Fitbit claims that only 1.7 percent of users have experienced an issue, and has been offering refunds to affected users since this news first appeared.
The company doesn’t say when its “next-generation tracker” will be available, but if you currently have a Force and you want to return it, Fitbit is refunding consumers directly for the full retail price. There’s a dedicated page on its website for more information or a call center at 888-656-6381.
Disclosure: Fitbit is backed by True Ventures, a venture capital firm that is an investor in the parent company of Gigaom. Om Malik, founder of Gigaom, is also a venture partner at True.