After the TGA Complaints Panel ruled on Power Balance bracelets last month, the promoters of Power Balance were asked to put up this disclaimer on their web sites. To no one’s surprise, they didn’t.
Now stepping in to take on Power Balance is a regulatory body with a little more grunt, the ACCC. Unlike the TGA, the ACCC can force business to act responsibly if they won’t do it voluntarily.
Power Balance Australia has given the ACCC a number of undertakings that include:
– not make any further claims to the effect that the products will improve the user’s balance, strength and flexibility.
– not, in conjunction with the products, make claims that “Power Balance is Performance Technology” or use the phrase “Performance Technology”.
– not make claims that Power Balance products are “designed to work with the body’s natural energy field”.
The company has 14 days to comply
– unless Power Balance Australia has obtained a written report from an independent testing body that has tested the products pursuant to a properly–designed randomised, double blind, scientific study or clinical trial and that the report provides a statistically significant basis for making any of the claims.
The undertakings document then goes on to have Power Balance Australia publish, at its expense, a corrective advertisement in many newspapers and magazines. The full ACCC Power Balance undertakings can be found on the ACCC’s web site here.
I particularly like the mention of double blind, randomised trials. Skeptics have been banging on for many years that these kinds of trials are essential for proper product testing. It’s important to take the possibility of the human propensity to fool oneself out of the testing method.
And wouldn’t it be nice if this was done before products went to market?
The following corrective advertisement will now be published in newspapers and magazines.
The list of publications that have previously published advertisements for Power Balance and will now carry the corrective advertisements is interesting. These include the:
Australian Yoga Journal
Australian Golf Digest
Australian Natural Health
If you happen to have purchased a Power Balance bracelet in the last six months, and you’re somewhat embarrassed by the fact, never fear:
Power Balance Australia undertake to: offer for a period of six months from the date of commencement of this Undertaking, to refund, upon return of a genuine Product, the whole of the purchase price together with postage, upon proof of purchase (which will include a credit card record or store barcode) from an authorised reseller in Australia.
I must admit I’m getting a little tired of doing Power Balance posts. Surely it’s the end of the idea that a magic wrist bands can somehow improve your health? Surely it shouldn’t be up to Skeptics to point out that these things don’t work and are marketed using simple tricks? It’s rather sad that so many people where taken in. As much as we’d rather not say, it’s sadly indicative of a poor understanding of science in the Australian community.
I think it’s also time for all those celebrity promoters of Power Balance to say sorry to fans, regardless of the fact that they themselves might have been taken in. My guess is, that instead of being leaders, they will simply, quietly, stop wearing a Power Balance bracelet and say nothing.
Below are links to previous posts about Power Balance and magic wrist bands published by the Vic Skeptics. I sincerely hope that the above post on this topic, is the last. Not because we’re now going to stop pointing out humbug when we see it, but because we want to see an end to products like this that are nothing but a cheap expensive con.