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Power Balance bracelets don't work, rules Australian government

Misleading advertising needs to be corrected and refunds offered to consumers

One topic of debate among cycling fans during the 2010 season has been whether Power Balance bracelets, which incorporate a hologram and are said to “work with your body’s natural energy field” to improve performance, actually work. The answer, according to authorities in Australia, appears to be a resounding “No!”

Throughout 2010, the $30 silicone wristbands have been sported by the likes of Lampre-Farnese Vini’s Alessandro Petacchi and Team Sky’s Juan Antonio Flecha. Outside cycling they have been endorsed by the likes of basketball star Shaquille O’Neill , Formula 1 racing driver Rubens Barichello, and England cricketer Kevin Pietersen.

Founded by a group of athletes in 2007, the company claims that “Power Balance is based on the idea of optimizing the body’s natural energy flow, similar to concepts behind many Eastern philosophies. The hologram in Power Balance is designed to resonate with and respond to the natural energy field of the body.”

Not so, says the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), which has secured agreement from the company to change the wording of its advertising and product packaging after it admitted that it could not provide scientific backing for its claim that the bracelet improved "balance, strength and flexibility."

According to BBC News, the company has also agreed to refund its customers in Australia if they ask for their money back, and will also remove the term “performance technology” from the wristband.

"Suppliers of these types of products must ensure that they are not claiming supposed benefits when there is no supportive scientific evidence," commented ACCC chairman Graeme Samuel.
"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."
Earlier this year, the product picked up an unwelcome accolade when it became the recipient of one of Australian consumer watchdog CHOICE’s wonderfully-named Shonky Awards.

CHOICE admitted that it had made the award “with some reluctance,” pointing out that “when Australian Skeptics demonstrated on Today Tonight that it patently didn’t do anything, subsequent sales skyrocketed: apparently any publicity is good publicity after all.”

The consumer oranisation added that it conducted its own tests “under controlled laboratory conditions – after all, you can’t believe everything you see on TV – and verified the Skeptics’ findings.”

It added: “The money-back guarantee, however, did work. The only power this bracelet seems to have, placebo effect notwithstanding, is in tipping its distributor’s bank balance well and truly into the black – they’re reportedly raking it in. So, if a fool and his money are soon parted, there are apparently plenty of fools out there – and they’re all conveniently identified with a rubber band bracelet. If you see one, offer to sell them a bridge.”

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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Rhina M | 13 years ago

Does it really work or it's just a fraud? Shaquille O'Neal, Drew Brees and many other successful sportsmen endorse Power Balance wristbands. Power Balance wristbands, which have been bought by millions of consumers, have earned testimonials claiming the product makes them better athletes. However, Power Balance was ordered by a courtroom in Australia to make clear the fact that no science could be offered to support the company's performance enhancement claims about its product.

Daclu Trelub | 13 years ago

There's always a market in the gullible for sharks selling sh*t. What amazes me is that otherwise fairly clued-up individuals actually believed the BS associated with this kind of bo**ocks.

nudge | 13 years ago

I can't understand why it took the ACCC so long to come down on the Power Balance bracelets. We have Truth in Advertising laws in Australia to help protect the gullible. For example Tetley Tea can't make unsubstantiated claims about antioxidants in Australian advertisements. Pity they don't take on the lotteries commission over the disproportionate number of winners shown in their TV ads -could it be because of the revenue the government receives from gambling?

miffed | 13 years ago

well done the aussie authorities, good common sense

simonmb | 13 years ago

Q: Snake oil, Power Balance bracelets, ceramic bearings. Which is the odd one out?  7 A: Perhaps there isn't an odd one out  39

Rob Simmonds | 13 years ago

Ashes bitterness?  19

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