I just found out that the Fitbit Force has been voluntarily recalled by Fitbit. The recall is described by Fitbit with this FAQ: Fitbit Force Skin Irritation FAQs. Basically, Fitbit has indicated that a small percentage of users (I read that Fitbit estimated this at 1.7%) had reported skin irritation and that Fitbit has decided to stop selling the Fitbit Force and, if you return your Force, will provide a full refund.
There is a huge thread on the customer service forum where people began complaining of a rash or burns on the arm. From what I read, typically this starts as a small rash under the face of the Force and progresses from there. Many describe it as being more like a burn than a rash. Reading the descriptions, it does sound extremely unpleasant.
All of that said, I personally…so far anyway…haven’t had any problems with skin irritation with my Fitbit Force. However, some people have apparently not seen reactions until after wearing the Force for a couple of months. I bought mine in mid-November. On the one hand, maybe if I was going to have a reaction I would have had it by now. On the other hand, maybe I just haven’t have had a reaction yet, and could still have one in the future.
I really love my Fitbit Force (and loved my Fitbit One before it), so hate the idea of having to return it. I like that I could wear it on my wrist, while with the One I wore it in a pocket. One of the reasons I bought the Force, was that it was supposed to have a software upgrade that would allow it to display caller ID on calls to my iPhone. That feature was delayed until supposedly sometime this month and has now been delayed again. With the recall, I have my doubts whether this feature will ever appear on the Force. Possibly it will, but I’m not holding my breath.
I’m also irritated with how Fitbit has handled this. It pains me to say this because I’ve loved my Fitbit devices so much. A couple of weeks ago, my husband mentioned he had read something about skin rashes in some people with the Force. At the time, people thought it might be due to nickel in the band (many people now question that and think it may be related to the adhesive used, since some people sensitive to nickel don’t have an issue with the Force). I didn’t pay that much attention to it when he told me because I am not sensitive to nickel and wasn’t having a problem.
At some point, Fitbit put a notice on the online dashboard that some users had reported skin sensitivity and said to click to learn more. I did and it said something about the problem and said if you were having a problem you could return your Fitbit (it may have also said you could exchange it for something else, but I don’t recall all the details). I wasn’t having a problem, so I didn’t do anything. Apparently, though, on February 20, Fitbit offered a voluntary recall on the Fitbit Force and stopped selling it.
What is annoying to me, is that as someone who didn’t know about the recall, there was nothing on the Fitbit dashboard to tell me about the recall. For example, this is what is shown on the Dashboard today:
This doesn’t tell me that there has been a recall. More importantly, this doesn’t tell me that there is any new information other than what I had previously read. The recall is new information, but this notice doesn’t tell me that. I had already previously gone to the link and read the information there, so seeing the above didn’t give me a reason to click on that link since then just in case there was new and different information. Also, Fitbit didn’t email me. I receive a weekly progress report email from Fitbit each week. So, Fitbit has my email address. I would have thought they would have emailed Fitbit Force owners to tell us about the recall. I found out about the recall on a non-Fitbit website where it was mentioned in passing.
It may be that Fitbit is planning to notify its users more directly. But, as it is, I don’t think the above notice tells people that there is an actual recall of the Force and that the product isn’t even being sold any more. This just seems poorly handled. I hate saying that because I’ve loved my Fitbit products. But, I think they could have handled this better.
I’ve thought about whether I should return my Fitbit. As I’ve said, I’ve had no problems myself with skin irritation. On the other hand, having seen some of the pictures and read described on the help site of the problems that others have had, I sure don’t want to chance problems developing. Also, I’m not at all persuaded that the culprit for the problem has been identified. So, I don’t really think I want to keep wearing the Force. Luckily, I kept my Fitbit One so I can charge it back up and use it again while I’m deciding what to do long term. When I researched devices before, I felt that the Fitbit was the most accurate with the best integration with third party software with the features I most wanted. But, that was a few months ago and so I will look at what else is newer on the market or is upcoming. I also wonder about what kind of new device Fitbit will offer. But, while pondering all that, I plan to use my Fitbit One.