This week saw a massive victory for the Australian skeptical community when the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission ordered Power Balance to cease making misleading claims about their hologram-endowed silicon bracelets.
The bands have seen an enormous upsurge in popularity in recent months, being touted by professional athletes of all stripes, from golfers to rugby players. The South African section of the PB website still proudly touts the following claims:
•WHAT IS POWER BALANCE?
Power Balance is Performance Technology designed to work with your body’s natural energy field. Founded by athletes, Power Balance is a favorite among elite athletes for whom balance, strength and flexibility are important.
•HOW DOES THE HOLOGRAM WORK?
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.
Now, if you change the extension on the Power Balance url to /australia/CA you get the following statement:
POWER BALANCE WRISTBANDS
In our advertising we stated that Power Balance wristbands improved your strength, balance and flexibility.
We admit that there is no credible scientific evidence that supports our claims and therefore we engaged in misleading conduct in breach of s52 of the Trade Practices Act 1974.
If you feel you have been misled by our promotions, we wish to unreservedly apologise and offer a full refund.
To obtain a refund please visit our website www.powerbalance.com.au or contact us toll-free on 1800 733 436
This offer will be available until 30th June 2011. To be eligible for a refund, together with return postage, you will need to return a genuine Power Balance product along with proof of purchase (including credit card records, store barcodes and receipts) from an authorised reseller in Australia.
This Corrective Notice has been paid for by Power Balance Australia Pty Ltd and placed pursuant to an undertaking to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission given under section 87B of the Trade Practices Act, 1974.
As a result of this misleading advertising, Power Balance in Australia has been ordered to make reparations in the following ways:
- Remove misleading claims from their website and packaging.
- Publish advertising informing customers that they made unsubstantiated claims.
- Offer refunds to all customers who feel they may have been misled.
- Remove the words “Performance Technology” from the band itself.
So we know that Power Balance is guilty of making patently false claims and they have been called on it and ordered to rectify the situation. In one country. What about all the other countries where these products are sold? And what about other, similar, products which make dubious claims?