3 Good Reasons to Return Your Fitbit Force – Rash or No Rash

Even if you didn't develop a rash on your wrist, you may still want to participate in Fitbit's recall of its Force activity tracker. CIO.com blogger James A. Martin shares three reasons to get a refund.

Following reports of users experiencing skin irritation, Fitbit recently issued a voluntary recall of its Force fitness wristband with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

If you’re among the 1.7 percent of Fitbit Force owners who developed a rash, you probably plan to return the device for a full refund. But what if you did not develop skin irritation from Fitbit’s latest wristband? Should you still return it?

Here are three reasons why you should at least consider a return.

1. There will be an improved Fitbit model in the near future.

Fitbit hasn’t offered any particulars yet, but the San Francisco-based startup said it is working on a "next-generation tracker." Before the wrist rash controversy, the Force, which syncs with Android and iOS apps, as well as computers, received largely positive reviews (including mine). The next Fitbit tracker will likely be an improved version of the Force, with some new functionality the Force lacks. If you return your Force for a refund, you could, at least in theory, use that money to buy the next-gen tracker when it becomes available.

2. Waiting for that caller ID feature? Don't hold your breath.

When the Force was announced last fall, Fitbit said it planned to eventually release a caller ID feature that works with iPhones. The feature would display a caller’s name on the Force’s small screen so you wouldn’t have to take out your iPhone to see who’s calling.

Back in January, Fitbit said it would release the caller ID feature in February. That was before Rashgate, and the caller ID feature is still MIA.

Now that Fitbit no longer sells the Force, the tracker may never actually get that feature. (I asked Fitbit PR about the caller ID feature’s fate but got no response.) Fitbit is highly likely to release the feature for its next-generation wristband tracker, of course. Conceivably, the company could also make it available to Fitbit Force owners. But if you don’t want to risk it, get a refund.

3. The next-gen Fitbit may have a better clasp.

Fitbit received a lot of criticism for the Force’s clasp, which can be difficult to snap into place and can come undone a bit too easily. Though I didn’t find it as irksome as others, I’ve had the Force come unclasped while my hands were full and could only watch the wristband fall to the ground. So if you get a refund and save your money for the next wristband, you may be getting a model with an improved clasp.

On the other hand, if you decide not to return your Force, you can secure it with a Bitbelt ($6 and up). Judging from the maker's website, these little fasteners should add some style to your Force (I just ordered a handful of them). A less expensive, and less attractive, option: get a no. 41-sized O-ring from a hardware store.

Something else to consider: Fitbit officially recalled the Force with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, so it’s illegal to try and sell it. Unsurprisingly, that hasn’t put a stop to some eBay sales. As of March 18, I found a number of Force units available for purchase, with at least one going for $100 over the original $130 list price.

I’ve decided to hold onto my Force, by the way, as I’ve experienced no skin irritation. Also, I’m deeply into the Fitbit ecosystem and have convinced a lot of friends to buy one, so we can taunt and cheer each other. Going without a Fitbit while waiting for the next model isn’t an option for me, nor is buying a Fitbit One (you can’t read the screen easily outside) or Zip (it doesn’t count floors).

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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