Ask LH: Should I Return My FitBit Force?

Dear Lifehacker, In December, I decided to import a FitBit Force from the US, via a mail forwarding service. Of course, FitBit have now issued a recall, and I received an email from the US product safety commission to return the item. I'm concerned that since the item is meant to be returned, FitBit may stop supporting it (or not put in place new updates). So is it worth sending it back to the US, or should I just continue to use it? And if I do send it back, what other fitness tracker is as good as my beloved Force? Thanks, Grey Import Gone Bad

Dear GIGB,

It seems unlikely that the software on the next FitBit Force will be radically different to the current model: it was well-received, and the recall was due to issues with the wristband, rather than the way it worked. With that said, FitBit will want to make sure the next release is impressive enough to offset the negative publicity from the recall, so we'd expect there to be some changes. We'd also expect that there will be no more updates for the current device: why patch something which officially isn't on sale at all?

Whether you return it is mostly a question of finances and health. If it's working well for you and you haven't suffered an allergic reaction, then you can keep using it -- at least until a new model that appeals more comes along. If you've seen any evidence of the allergic reaction, send it back.

As for the question of what you should buy as an alternative, we covered this in some depth recently. The short version? The next FitBit Force is probably worth hanging out for, but if you can't wait, the Jawbone Up is also a solid choice.

Cheers Lifehacker

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    Go on the Fitbit "burned arm" discussion forum, look at the photos, and decide if you want to take the risk of a nasty reaction with blisters, open sores etc. unfortunately once it starts it's too late. It will keep getting worse and take weeks to heal. Sorry. I loved my Force too until it burned me.

      Can I ask how you went about sending it back? The information on the website is all directed towards people in the US/Canada.

        They'll send you an email if they have your information with the process (you have to destroy it, send evidence of that - and then they'll send you a cheque). If you don't hear from them, try reaching out to: [email protected] - they are managing the recall


    I absolutely love my force and I also own the fitbit scales, however after about a month I developed the rash on my left arm, I changed it to my right and within 3 days started getting the rashes on that arm. The rash developed under the place where the tracker is charged. I now put it in my pocket, jacket, any place that does not touch my skin, I even put a bandaid on my tracker when it was on my wrist! It has helped me so much to keep up with my health and fitness that I have actually considered keeping it and losing the money that I paid for it unless they come out with a better one soon! I wonder if other tracker brands will sync with the fitbit scales??? The crazy thing is, I do not have any allergys to anything, which makes me wonder what in the world is in that product? A little scarey! I Guess with hesitation, I probably should return it!

      How different is the force to the one on sale here in oz? My partner has one that's similar but doesn't have the button, the module thing comes out of the wristband to charge and you tap it to get the steps reading

    The rashes are due to allergic reactions to the plastic contents of the band and/or, more likely, to the nickel in the steel backing. It is NOT due to any electrical wiring malfunctions. I can say this with confidence because an allergy to "fake gold" is common (I know a lot of people who are, including my brother and mom) and although some accessories are stated as 10k gold, silver, sterling silver or stainless steel, not all retailers have their entire product line as nickel-free. I use to work in a jewellery store that is one of the few (if not only) stores in the city that has a full line of products that are free from nickel. My brother has learned the hard way to make sure that the stainless steel watches he buys are nickel-free. You always have to ask if it's nickel-free if you have allergies.

    I think the most reasonable solution is to send it back. The advantage is that you don't risk getting a rash, and you get a refund back that you can use towards the next generation Fitbit Force. The new product will have the advantage of getting updates and the same feautures of the original Force with added modifications. All it will cost you is patience.

    I was wanting to pick one up recently, but then the recall happened. Other Fitbit products, the Nike fuelband and the Jawbone Up are its direct competitors, but some of the cons are that they don't offer the same features, Nike doesn't offer a dedicated app for Android, and the Jawbone Up has no screen to display stats; it uses your phone to display everything. Plus, I personally like having a wrist accessory that actually displays the time.

    I'd rather not have anything right now if something improved is on its way soon. The Force is an amazing piece of equipment, but I'm willing to wait for something I know I'll truly be happy with.

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