In a move that has been welcomed by skeptical groups all over the world, an Australian consumer watchdog group, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has instructed Power Balance to cease making misleading claims about their silicone bracelets.

The performance sports bracelets, which have gained considerable popularity via high profile athlete endorsements, have become an essential fashion accessory around the globe, making millions for the company. Their popularity has also sparked dozens of copy cat products, to such an extent that the company established a section on their website where consumers can report a fake.

The bracelets cost between $30 and $60 AUD and the pendants $90 and are claimed to increase strength, performance and flexibility. The “magic” is in the embedded hologram which is designed to “resonate with and respond to the natural energy field of the body”. But when asked to provide evidence for such claims, Power Balance 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”. A toll free Power Balance refund line has been set up and refunds are bring offered to all consumers who felt they have been misled.

In a press release today, the ACCC announced that claims made by Power Balance had been found to breach section 52 of the Trade Practices Act and as such the following undertakings were to be made. Power Balance must:

• remove misleading claims from their website and packaging

• publish advertising informing consumers that they made claims that could not be substantiated

• offer refunds to all consumers who feel they may have been misled

In a further unprecedented move, the ACCC has also instructed the company to remove the words “performance technology” from the band itself, presumably meaning they will have to manufacture new stock.

And in a further shake up, the ACCC has indicated that retailers who continue to sell the bands in their current form also risk prosecution. This is certainly a blow for the company, as it effectively means they will have to withdraw all their current stock during a period when many manufacturing companies are winding down for the Christmas break.

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

“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.”

It appears Power Balance may have already begun to comply with the ruling as a visit to the “learn more” section of the Australian website turns up a “coming soon” (the US site still contains information such as “optimizing the body’s natural energy “and “the hologram in Power Balance is designed to resonate with and respond to the natural energy field of the body.”)

The bands have been the subject of considerable media attention in 2010, not all of it flattering, however it apparently hasn’t made much of a dent in their sales. When Richard Saunders showed unequivocally that the bracelets didn’t work in a blind test on national television, the website crashed from increased traffic.

In October, Choice magazine awarded them a Shonky for the “stronger, bendier, balanceder, dumber” product of 2010. Choice spokesman Christopher Zinn described the product as “the only effect that the power balance band has is in emptying your wallet”. They were later named “a bare faced con” by Channel Nine’s A Current Affair.

bare faced con

The ACCC ruling might be the first move to make a dent in the enormous success of this expensive placebo in Australia. Unlike the HCCC and the TGA, the ACCC has a history of taking legal action against companies that continue to practice misleading and deceptive conduct. This includes the alternative health providers Advanced Allergy Elimination and NuEra.

Since Power Balance bands will likely be off the shelves of Australian stores for a while, why not get yourself a Placebo Band. They’re only two dollars, all profits go to charity, and they’re honest about what they do!

Want to know how the tricks tricks used by Power Balance and other similar products work? Watch the video on applied kinesiology below.


A big hug to Richard Saunders who has worked tirelessly to expose the shonkiness that is Power Balance.

UPDATE: Power Balance have now published this corrective ad on their website.

power balance refund(2)

UPDATE 02/01/10: There have been many copy-cat products produced as a result of the huge success of Power Balance. One such product is HotBand which Richard Saunders wrote about here .

Our mate Chris Higgins decided to take up the challenge to get a large chain of discount pharmacies to remove these from their shelves and today we can report he has had some success. Chris writes on his blog today that he was informed the bracelets have been “recalled” and are no longer sold by Chemist Warehouse. Win!


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  • Matty Hizzle

    I am selling them in New Zealand and have not been made aware of not being able to sell them however I have been on leave for 6 weeks. When I sell them to customers I say that Power Balance claim that it increases strength and flexibility. I say that I dont think they do anything but that other people would say otherwise. I have a friend who couldnt rotate his hips at all when swinging a golf club but once he put one of those on he could do it fine. Its all in your head though. If you believe it will enhance your performance it will. I have been wearing one for over a year now and havnt noticed any instant improvements in any of these areas simply because I know they dont work.

  • http://scepticsbook.com Maggie

    Hi Matty, so do you tell your customers that they don’t do anything when you sell them? This was the problem the ACCC had with the company – they made claims that Power Balance can increase strength and flexibility (amongst other things) whilst not having any evidence that this was true. This is the point of the lawsuit also-’making false claims is against the law. BTW if you’re in Australia you’re not allowed to sell them in their current form. You have to remove the words performance technology from the bracelets and the packaging or you as a retailer can also face prosecution. Making false claims about a product and selling it is considered a scam.

  • Matty Hizzle

    I dont really care if they work or not. Even if they create an illusion of enhancement for the wearer they are still good. I have never believed that they enhance performance and sell them to customers everyday just because of that. Some of my customers would swear by them which I think is a good thing. Do they work? Shit no. But do the make people think they are better than they actually are? Hell yes

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  • AndyD

    Yeah. He was short officer, around 6’2″, bald with dark blond hair and a long-sleeved singlet. Should be easy to spot.

  • http://scepticsbook.com Maggie

    Did anyone else just see that drive-by?

  • ROBBIE

    This site is a crock!

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  • http://scepticsbook.com Maggie

    @Tara, I just called this number and it worked: 1800 733 436

  • Tara

    They “forgot” the last digit in the phone # for returns…HOW CONVENIENT!!

  • http://scepticsbook.com Maggie

    [I just don’t understand how a product can be exposed as a complete scam , the ACCC tells the seller to offer refunds but they are still allowed to keep selling the product. Isn’t this just saying, “keep ripping people off but if a customer catches you out then you have to give him his money back. And you get to set the terms and conditions for the refund.”]
    .

    Hi Keith, Power Balance also have to remove all claims that the bracelet does anything from their website, advertising, the packaging and the product itself. This includes the words “performance technology” from the band. On the news here Graeme Samuel was suggesting that retailers take a big black texta and scribble out claims on the box and band until new stock arrives or they face prosecution too.
    .

    There has already been some fall out here with copy cat products. For example the Hot Band has been removed from a major pharmacy chain because as the retailer described it was “recalled”. See
    http://www.chrishiggins.net.au/2011/01/01/a-chemist-warehouse-update/
    .

    Someone on twitter commented they suddenly “recalled” that is was shite and didn’t work but I think it is more likely because the ACCC warned they were also coming after copy cats products.

  • Keith

    Well done to the Australian Skeptics but it’s hard to get excited over the outcome. Power Balance placed a link to the correction below the fold on their front page, underneath all the glossy advertising for the wonders of their “technology”. And all you have to do to get a refund is provide proof of purchase and the barcode of the original packaging. That is pretty straight forward, I always keep the barcodes of everything I buy.
    .

    I just don’t understand how a product can be exposed as a complete scam , the ACCC tells the seller to offer refunds but they are still allowed to keep selling the product. Isn’t this just saying, “keep ripping people off but if a customer catches you out then you have to give him his money back. And you get to set the terms and conditions for the refund.”
    .

    Also, Eken are still peddling their wares on the radio using the same techno babble and sports stars are still lining up to promote the products to the gullible public.

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  • http://www.bolingbrookbabbler.com William Brinkman

    Great job. Australia skeptics are an inspiration for skeptics around the world!

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  • Mark

    Pity the ACCC did not make them include something along these lines:

    “Consumers may wish to consult the Australian Skeptics before purchasing any products claiming to enhance or channel the bodies “energy”.”

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  • http://scepticsbook.com Maggie

    @Shane < facepalm >

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  • http://shaneonthego.blogspot.com shane

    I had a colleague at work state much the same thing. I said I can get identical cheaper bands manufactured by the same Chinese factories. He said it was the same as a name brand TV coming out of the same factory no-name brands were made… It is down to the quality of the materials etc. Sheesh.

  • http://scepticsbook.com Maggie

    LOLS on the Yahoo! Blog
    .

    http://au.news.yahoo.com/latest/a/-/latest/8556402/power-balance-exposed/3/date/asc/741531/#thread
    .

    Cory 2 hours, 13 minutes ago
    .

    People used to be skeptical with Acupuncture,meridians and chakra’s etc. Humans are four dimensional. I have tried the bands with some interesting results. Just because you don’t understand it does’nt mean it doesn’t work. It works for me. There are a lot of fake copy ones out there so make sure you get the real one.
    .

    Reply from Leonard1 hour, 58 minutes ago
    .

    Another mentally insufficient person, no wonder power band is doing well..

  • http://shaneonthego.blogspot.com shane

    Oops. Graeme Samuel not Graham Samuels.

  • http://shaneonthego.blogspot.com shane

    I just saw Graham Samuels on ABC News 24 hold up an ordinary rubber band and say that if you wished really hard it would have as much effect as the Power Balance bracelet.

  • Julia

    At least I know my Positive Energy Crystals are genuine…..:-)

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  • GeekGoddess

    Yay for you guys!

  • http://shaneonthego.blogspot.com shane

    I’m shocked. I went to a conference recently where some sort of bracelet was conclusively demonstrated. I even took photos. Click here for photos.

  • http://scepticsbook.com Maggie

    Thanks for the reminder skepticalpoo (?!). I was trying to remember their names so I could include it in this post but I failed. It will indeed be very interesting to see their results.

  • skepticalpoo

    I think we are still waiting for those wacky Chiropractors from RMIT to release their study results… They were due early december…. Surely they will be posted somewhere… Chiropractors are always so reliable in publishing evidence they may not like..