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