Power Balance Admits No Reasonable Basis For Wristband Claims, Consumers Offered Refunds

Placebo bands - the skeptical alternative to Power Balance

Placebo bands - the skeptical alternative to Power Balance

Not for the first time, we at the MSS would like to offer our congratulations and our genuine awe at the work done by the Australian Skeptics. Not for their tireless work in fighting anti-vaccination in Australia, although this is indeed laudable. Not even for hosting TAM Australia, though the event sounded an overwhelming success, with precisely the kind of ethos and feel we’re trying to achieve with QED (tickets are still available, of course). No, this time our hearty congratulations are for their fight against the ludicrous nonsense that is Power Balance – the little bands of rubber, embedded with a neat little hologram and vibrating with a supposedly-ever-present-yet-oddly-undetectable energy which claims to help this, boost that and increase the other.

Or at least, they used to claim that. As of today the manufacturers will no longer be making those claims, after a ruling proved them to be unsubstantiated. What follows is a press release from the ACCC explaining further, but it’s worth pointing out that without the work of the Australian Skeptics in demonstrating the falsehood of Power Balance’s claims this ruling would never have happened. So, once again – excellent work, guys!

Power Balance Admits No Reasonable Basis For Wristband Claims, Consumers Offered Refunds

Misleading advertising claims about the alleged benefits of Power Balance wristbands and pendants have been withdrawn by the manufacturer after Australian Competition and Consumer Commission intervention.

As a result consumers will be offered a refund if they feel they have been misled and Power Balance has agreed not to supply any more products that are misleadingly labelled.

Power Balance Australia Pty Ltd claimed the wristbands improve balance, strength and flexibility and worked positively with the body’s natural energy field. It also marketed its products with the slogan “Performance Technology”. The ACCC raised concerns that these claims were likely to mislead consumers into believing that Power Balance products have benefits that they do not have.

“Suppliers of these types of products must ensure that they are not claiming supposed benefits when there is no supportive scientific evidence,” ACCC chairman Graeme Samuel said today.

“Consumers should be wary of other similar products on the market that make unsubstantiated claims, when they may be no more beneficial than a rubber band,” Mr Samuel said.

Power Balance has admitted that there is no credible scientific basis for the claims and therefore no reasonable grounds for making representations about the benefits of the product. Power Balance has acknowledged that its conduct may have contravened the misleading and deceptive conduct section of the Trade Practices Act 1974.

The Power Balance wristbands were widely promoted in the media by various sporting celebrities. The wristbands were sold around Australia in sporting stores and also on the Power Balance website www.powerbalance.com.au

“When a product is heavily promoted, sold at major sporting stores, and worn by celebrities, consumers tend to give a certain legitimacy to the product and the representations being made,” Mr Samuel said.

“Retailers that continue to sell the product with misleading representations on the packaging are warned that they may be open to action from the ACCC,” Mr Samuel said.

To address the ACCC’s concerns Power Balance has provided the ACCC with court- enforceable undertakings that it will:

  • only make claims about its products if they are supported by a written report from an independent testing body that meets certain standards
  • publish corrective advertising to prevent consumers from being misled in the future
  • amend the Australian website to remove any misleading representations
  • change the packaging to remove any misleading representations
  • offer a refund to any consumers that feel they have been misled, and
  • remove the words “performance technology” from the band itself.

Consumers with refund enquiries can call Power Balance directly.

The ACCC has previously taken court action against a number of alternative health providers, including Advanced Allergy Elimination and NuEra, for misleading and deceptive conduct.

, , ,

  1. #1 by peter martin on December 23, 2010 - 00:46

    Isn’t this also going to impact on other “legitimate” businesses that make outlandish claims, like wellness/hippy shops that sell crystals to remove negative energy and improve your aura?? I think we need to have a serious (and detailed) FAITH vs SCIENTIFICALLY PROVABLE and Therefore IMPLAUSABLE BY ASSOCIATION debate in this country, because there is a lot of stuff out there that is designed to bamboozle and confuse, and ultimately to separate the gullable from their money in new and ingenious ways.

    There is a growing and unsettling trend emerging that it is “ok” to target the gullable (and let’s face it we’re all gullable in one way or another). Whether it be “instant buzz” caffeine concoctions, ringtones, porn on your mobile, fat vs no fat vs low fat, omega 3, anti oxidents, wrinkle cream, toothpaste, breakfast cerials, soy milk, organic vs semi organic vs gm … etc.

  2. #2 by Michael on December 30, 2010 - 19:53

    WHEY-HEY! Well done the Aussie Sceptics! Believe it or not I have a science student whom has been wearing one for some time. I called her out on it and she said her mother bought it for her because she falls over a lot. I asked her when she last fell over “Err. Yesterday” was the confirming response. Does this mean that gullible idiots around the world can get their money back? You know that the majority of these idiots will not claim a refund because they have convinced themselves that it works? Watch that space to see if ‘power balance goes bust’ They won’t as they will just change a few words and use the phrase ‘may help’ ‘might improve’ instead.

  3. #3 by Charlie on December 31, 2010 - 10:30

    Unfortunately this only seems to apply to Australia, check out the Power balance website and they continue to make these claims elsewhere in the world.

    It is positive however that consumer groups and sceptics are putting the onus on manufacturers/producers to substantiate the claimed benefits of products.

(will not be published)