Lose the Force, Luke: Fitbit hands out refunds to Force users with rashes

fitbit force steps

You can cycle through data on the Fitbit Force with a quick button press. Here we see the step counter.

Credit: Image: Mike Homnick

Here’s the mildly irritating truth of the developing wearables era: Your favorite wrist gadget might give you a skin rash.

That much became clear when Fitbit Force users began posting images of their unsightly rashes on Fitbit’s forums last month. The red, blotchy rashes were showing up underneath the area where the Fitbit’s battery and charging port reside. One user was diagnosed with contact dermatitis, and may have a permanent scar from the blistering and scabbing that eventually occurred.

Similar complaints have appeared on Engadget’s forums, and photos of especially nasty rashes have been published by the Sydney Morning Herald and ABC News.

Fitbit confirmed to Consumerist that the fitness band’s materials could cause a rash for some users, and that those users can either get a refund or exchange the band for a different product. The company says it tests its products to satisfy “a variety of internationally accepted standards” for material safety.

“As with any jewelry or watch, numerous factors could cause a skin irritation, such as nickel sensitivity (surgical stainless steel is an alloy containing traces of nickel), reactions to bacteria that can accumulate in wristbands, or a sensitivity to the material of the band elastomer,” Fitbit’s statement reads. To wit: You’ll find occasional complaints about skin rashes for the Pebble smartwatch and the Jawbone Up as well.

In other words, there’s always a chance the latest and greatest smartwatch could be rash-inducing, and while Fitbit’s problem is getting the most attention, it surely won’t be the last time we hear of this sort of thing. 

Just wait until it happens to Apple. Rashgate, anyone?

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