SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Many of us wear them, but after people reported their fitness trackers were shocking them, Call Kurtis launched an investigation.
It started with Chris Nelson a father of two, a coworker here at CBS13. He reported to us that he was shocked by his Fitbit.
Nelson felt healthier when he wore his new fitness tracker, counting his steps and tracking his heart rate. But after a month of wearing the Fitbit Charge 2, Nelson was in for a surprise.
While picking up his 3-year-old daughter Emily, he says the Fitbit Charge 2 shocked him, causing him to drop his daughter. Emily was not hurt, but he says it left a painful lump on his wrist and his hand temporarily numb.
“It was clearly an electric shock,” he said. “The best as I can figure, I was just shocked by the connector that was on my wrist.”
We started looking and found similar shock complaints online from across the country. Mom Lauren Reiss, who lives outside Philadelphia, swears two different Fitbit models shocked her.
“It shot up my arm. It was intense,” she said. “As soon as I looked down at my arm, I noticed immediately that it hurt.
She says one jolt left a lasting mark on her arm that matches up with where the Fitbit would sit.
We looked to see if any complaints had been filed with the Consumer Product Safety Commission. One user said, “It sent a shooting painful electric shock down to my fingers and up to my elbow.”
In another CPSC complaint, they wrote, “The zing burning sensation lasted a couple days.”
We looked into complaints posted on the Fitbit community forum page. We reached out to other users who were reporting a shock sensation while wearing their device.
A user of the Charge 2 reported to us, “It felt like someone came up with an electrical cord and shocked me.”
A Blaze owner said it was, “Definitely a shock, worse than a static shock, it was like a burning shock.”
A former user of the Surge shared, “I was sitting at my desk an electrical shock went through my hand, it jolted me.”
“This is a danger that needs to be addressed,” said Reiss.
We reached out to Fitbit, which says, “it takes all reports of potential issues seriously, and its products are designed to prevent electrical contact with the user.” In each reported case it’s investigated it says, “the devices and batteries were found to be fully intact and functional, with no signs of overheating, voltage irregularities or malfunction of any kind.”
They did suggest, “It is more likely that the shock was caused by static electricity built up on the person.”
Static expert Kelly Robinson, PE, Ph.D. says static can build up on a body, but static is often a scapegoat when companies can’t figure out what’s really wrong.
“I just don’t think it’s static; I think there is something else going on,” he said.
Robinson says that static is often a scapegoat when companies can’t figure out what’s really wrong.
“There’s something seriously going on here, and we need to keep at it, and we need to keep looking into it we need to fix it.”
We brought the reports of shocks to consumer attorney Stuart Talley.
He says, “If you had a pacemaker if you were driving a car, something like that could cause a really serious injury.”
Reiss does have a pacemaker and now wears her Fitbit farther from her heart, on her ankle, instead of her arm.
She says, “Since I’ve taken it off, I’ve actually felt a lot better.”
Fitbit tells us the devices are designed for the wrist. They encourage people to wear them properly to get the most accurate picture of their health.
Fitbit sent Nelson, a new more advanced model and has not felt any other jolts. He’s still leery of what he experienced.
“People shouldn’t be getting shocked by their watch,” said Nelson.
APRIL 19, 2018
Appreciate the time earlier. Here is our statement for the segment:
“The health and safety of Fitbit customers is our top priority, and we take all reports of potential issues seriously. Fitbit products are designed to prevent electrical contact with the user, and we have strict quality control and design requirements to ensure product integrity. In the very limited instances where people reported what they thought was a shock sensation, we conducted thorough investigations. In all cases, the devices and batteries were found to be fully intact and functional, with no signs of overheating, voltage irregularities or malfunction of any kind – including Mr. Nelson’s case. We are confident in the safety of our products.”
Please keep me updated on any new developments in the story and when you plan to run.
MARCH 8, 2018
Since we spoke Wednesday and walked through the findings with regard to Mr. Nelson’s device and all similar consumer reports, it has come to our attention that you are attempting to make contact with individuals through the Fitbit Community Forum. Please note that this is a violation of our Community Guidelines, which prohibit solicitation, and these posts have been removed in accordance with our standard policy.
To reiterate our discussion, consumer safety is our top priority and in the handful of instances where people have reported what they thought was a shock sensation, including those reported in our Fitbit Community Forum, we have conducted investigations and been unable to reproduce a shock event. Additionally, in all cases, the devices were found to be intact and fully functional; the same is true in the case of Mr. Nelson.
Fitbit products are designed to prevent electrical contact with the user, and we have not seen an example of this failing. It is more likely that the shock was caused by static electricity build up on the person or another person he came in contact with. Further, as discussed, these reports are not isolated to Fitbit and are found across other types of devices and brands.
Please let us know if you have any further questions we can answer.