There’s apparently some unauthorised snake-oil sales going on in relation to the rather too profitable “rubber bands with holograms” industry.

Power balance bands: Not endorsed by Harry Potter as yet, but bound to be eventually.

Power balance bands: Not endorsed by Harry Potter as yet, but bound to be eventually.

This “article” (I use the term loosely because it uses zero journalistic investigation skills): “Fake power band scam” bleats about the loss of a $59.95 scam by the power band people and a cheaper sale by someone else.

Performance technology company Power Balance Australia has issued a warning to potential customers that a man has been selling counterfeit versions of their performance power bands at the Moruya markets.
..
Power Balance Australia NSW manager Ryan Brustolin says the fake bands are made in China and are of no more than ornamental value, despite being virtually identical to the real thing. They are usually bought on Ebay.

“They are very, very similar but they have no technology in them so they are worth nothing,” he said.

Is he talking about his own products or the fake ones? I’m confused.

The idea that you can magically change your metabolism via strapping on what is essentially a “live strong” band with a hologram sticker is insane. I go exercise to try and increase my endurance, strength etc and even then it takes actual effort. This snake oil company is selling a placebo bracelet.

Power Balance: finest placebo wares for the bargain price of $59.95

Power Balance: finest placebo wares for the bargain price of $59.95

The signs of a snake oil product

So let’s look at their claims (from their website):

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

Wow, I think I shall have to refer to any sticker now as “technology”. It’s not sticky tape: it’s a reel of technology! Those aren’t post-it notes, they’re yellow paper note technology! The makers of this shouldn’t be told to stick their product up their arses, they should instead technologify an orifice with the product.

How exactly does a bit of plastic “resonate and respond” in this most premium of snake oil bracelets? Do they mean “if you look at the holographic sticker from different angles it appears to be 3D”? Seriously? Does it have a drop of snake oil encased in the plastic somewhere?

The power band product has a number of characteristics of your standard snake oil product line:

  • Vague claims like “natural energy field” and “optimising the body’s natural energy flow”.
  • Expensive for what it appears to be: a rubber strap with a sticker
  • Links to “eastern philosophies” to explain how the magic sticker (also found on genuine DVDs from China)
  • Endorsements from laypeople, sportsmen/women but no actual scientific studies or verified results

So let me translate what “natural energy” means in a product such as this: it means “all in your head”. They’ve leapt up a level in quackery by claiming this piece of plastic with a sticker (erm.. sorry “technology”) is the reincarnation of a philosophy or some such garbage.
But hey, there are a lot of stupid people out there making these snake oil peddlers very rich. If you see anyone wearing one of these: I suggest you offer to sell them a nice block of land in the middle of Sydney Harbour.

Let’s try some science with some blind tests

Did some digging and found that Richard Saunders did a follow up on Today Tonight to show what a load of shit these things are:

Says everything really. Well, except that shining example of fine journalism Today Tonight didn’t run with the headline “Shocking power balance scam EXPOSED!”.

And a ratbags.com link on the matter of Power Balance Bracelets.

UPDATE: See the follow up post on how to spot a fake power balance bracelet.

UPDATE: See newer post about Power balance admitting they were deceptive. No longer able to make any of the claims in Australia. So before you start going on at me: power balance themselves say these things do nothing.

74 Responses to “Fake powerband scam? Power balance is Snake oil in bracelet form.”

  1. on 07 Jan 2011 at 02:43Ed

    Marcia I agree with most of your points. Why not drop by with your findings in a months time.

  2. on 07 Jan 2011 at 07:51Zentropist

    It only goes to show how the power of Belief can triumph over rational, critical thinking. A simple rubber trinket stamped out in a 3rd world sweatshop, no matter how “mystical” or “energetically charged” it may claim to be, will not magically transform the wearer and grant abilities which weren’t present to begin with. Proper mindset can and does give an edge in athletic competition and other human endeavors, but if you don’t have the underlying fundamentals, you won’t gain superhuman or preternatural abilities…

    http://zentropist.wordpress.com/2011/01/05/what-power-balance-bracelets-teach-us-about-belief/

  3. on 11 Jan 2011 at 00:14Marz

    Lets face one thing. It’s placebo effect is endless. If you chose to believe that the item assists in something, wheather meta-physical (like a reminder to live healthily, or have a better relationship with your God, or learning to be more patient, to learn be on time, confidence levels) or Physical ( run faster, have better balance and inner strength, play better beach volleyball.), at the end of the day the subconcious mind is a very powerful thing.
    We can achieve anything in life if positively reminded. The POWERBALANCE bracelette is just but one tool a person can use to achieve these things.
    If I personally get more value from the bracelette than what it claims to be possible for, what stops any person, athlete or otherwise, to benefit from it in their own personal way. (Placebo or otherwise.)
    So if you have a POWERBALANCE bracelette, and claim that it does nothing for you, try using it in another way. I mean you bought it, it’s comfortable to wear, and looks nice too. You may just as well make use of it in a way that no one else have ever thought of. Think outside the box people!

    As for the false advertising that it actually releases energy of some kind, can be debated and pursued.

  4. on 13 Jan 2011 at 19:15steve

    Hi Nathan It seems the world is finally waking up to this joke Australia is first at the post it also appears that spain and italy has fined power balance.

  5. on 14 Jan 2011 at 06:23steve

    Marz, Do you work for power balance? This is ABOUT LYING to people,its about being deceitful using old universal neuromuscular TRICKS. It all started in a fair ground. It actually DID with, I must admit, a very cunningly structured marketing plan to make millions, from people like you. Please wake up Marz and all other believers.

  6. on 18 Jan 2011 at 12:20Power Balance Bracelets

    I’m looking at this and it seems quite similar to a new product that has been released in Chilliwack, British Columbia called Edge Advantage. It looks 100% EXACTLY like those bracelets.

  7. on 11 Feb 2011 at 11:16one smart cookie(who is 13)

    Well in the video .. they show the person running the blind tests pulling down on the person.. And well any time someone pulls on you bracelet or not you will fall over. For a test, the person running tese tests should have had the volenteer do the tree (yoga) pose with out the bracelet then with the bracelet on. The tree pose makes you balence on one leg which could determine weater or not the bracelet works or not.

  8. on 11 Feb 2011 at 11:18one smart cookie(who is 13)

    And with the natural energy field it means the natural flow
    of energy that runs throughout the body

  9. on 11 Feb 2011 at 15:47Nathan

    “one smart cookie” – So natural energy field is blood?

  10. on 11 Feb 2011 at 11:19one smart cookie(who is 13)

    And even if there is a scam , if someone does not know that,
    and it boosts their confidence, that is a MAJOR plus!!

  11. on 15 Feb 2011 at 15:00kenneth

    …people who these bands are a scam are worth less and annoy the crap outta me if u don’t wanna buy one and don’t wanna give me two min to show ur ignorante a$$ how it works then don’t waste my time tell me “o they don’t work there a scam” if u wernt ao cheap mabe u could afford a real one… I hate ignorant people….. they work and they work good.. I sold over 6000 of these bands.. and mabe .02 percent come back with problems

  12. on 15 Feb 2011 at 15:04kenneth

    Any body who dosent believe in these bands are worthless anyway… ur just mad cuz u can’t afford one…

  13. on 25 Feb 2011 at 12:00Marco Lam

    The tests used to test the powerbands are the same ones on scamschool!!!!!!!!!!!!!! They are complete and total BS!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Whoever made those pices of crap have to be sued.

  14. on 03 Mar 2011 at 06:11wassup

    ahahahahahahhaaaaaa…. so freakin’ sad but so human!

    every decade or so some snake-oil bs is masterly marketed and sold to millions. the more you charge and the more the suckers will rationalize their choice and try to get you in too. psychology 101: consistency/commitment is built in our genetic code and, while it served us well as a species, it can also make some do/accept the weirdest most unreasonable things.

    all this bracelet is making you is just a little dummer! in this age of information, that is a crime. just read up and research a little before blindly giving your trust.

  15. on 25 Mar 2011 at 01:22Mike C.

    Wow! That Nathan really is a 1st class sucker! I guess he has to justify the money he threw out on a cheap rubber band with a hologram. So the plecebo effect is in full force with him. LOL at Nathan! I remember the first time I started see them on TV here in the USA. Only its called “iRenew”. They still advertise them. You are a real sucker to buy one. They show the “before and after” effect video side by side in the commercial. You can see how the people are being pulled on two different ways. “Before” he pulls down and away from behind. “After” he just pulls straight down. What a SCAM!

  16. on 25 Mar 2011 at 04:18Mike C.

    Correction: I meant Jesse is the 1st class sucker, NOT Nathan. I scrolled down so far I mixed up the names. Sorry Nathan.

  17. on 23 Apr 2011 at 18:14ARO

    Hi All,
    I don’t believe in this PB scam too but tried some things else that this PB had supposed to be mimicking because I do not wish to loose much of my$ like the rest of the fools. I did get some improvement.
    My sincere comment regarding this PB thing.
    1. In a week, I felt a little needles and pin in my palm. Like something is vibrating it. It got lesser by a month. By then, I have bought and wearing one of the PB. oops!!!. But I need to confirm.
    2. I do feel more healthy and energetic. Just don’t know how long it will last.
    3. I do not feel tired easily now.Muscle strain gone within 2 days after strenuous exercise.
    Well, placebo or not,I am not taking this off!!!.
    I was trying to find answer on how this could happen just by wearing this bracelet because I want to recommend to my skeptic friends until I stumble on this page.
    My recommendation. Use one PB bracelet for a week and go bowling yourself. Do it again after 1 or 2 weeks. Try to deliver the bowling ball as accurately as you can. Don’t worry about the score just try to place the ball to your target accurately. You need to auto balance your body to deliver accurately.Compare to your own capability before and after.
    I am 48 and I was surprised. You go judge it yourself.
    –OUT–Gone bowlin’..

  18. on 25 Oct 2011 at 13:07Jamie

    I came across an online deal that left me able to get the bracelet for free, so I “purchased” one and received it today. I have horrible pain in my back, knees and hands all the time and within seconds of putting this bracelet on, it was pretty much non existent. Just a little bit ago, I decided to stretch to see if it hurt my legs and back and when I bent over, I could touch the floor without bending my knees! That hasn’t happened in at least 10 years! Being able to do that is definitely NOT in my head and am an advocate for these bracelets. Like I said, I got mine for free and the actual price was around $35 not $60, but I would gladly pay the cost for being virtually pain free! Just my two cents on the whole thing. Thanks for listening.

  19. on 21 Dec 2011 at 05:45Dylan Dayle

    this doesnt help at all !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  20. on 13 May 2012 at 15:56Ali

    Unfortunately, I fell for this scam even after very thorough thinking at the shop. Luckily, I kept the box and receipt so I can get a refund and if not availble, an exchange. The salesman did the tests on me several times and I got fooled buy them even though I sensed some kind of scam. I actually though it was very expensive but still bought it. When I was only in the car on my way back home, I looked this up but struggled to find websites which stated this is a scam but thanks to this website, I got all the information and valid arguments that proved this is a scam. The salesman said that there was a similar product which was a scam, and I believe he was talking about this, that the government took away from the market after finding out it was a scam but fooled me in believing that this one is real and said it is made by the best company or whatever called “eight”. It cost me 175 UAE dirhams (I am from Dubai) which is about US$48. The guy even told me that the UAE national football team wear this band. I feel weak after being fooled by this silly scam.

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