ACCC warns retailers over Power Balance claims

Retailers have been warned not to sell Power Balance wristbands and pendants with claims on the packaging the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission says are misleading, after the claims were withdrawn by the Australian supplier.

The ACCC says retailers who continue to sell the product with misleading representations on the packaging may be open to legal action.

The ACCC announced today that claims had been withdrawn by the company after it intervened. Consumers are to be offered a refund if they feel they have been misled and Power Balance has agreed not to supply any more products which are misleadingly labelled.

Power Balance Australia claimed the wristbands improve balance, strength and flexibility and worked positively with the body's natural energy field. It also marketed its products with the slogan ‘Performance Technology’. The ACCC raised concerns that these claims were likely to mislead consumers into believing that Power Balance products have benefits that they do not have.

"Suppliers of these types of products must ensure that they are not claiming supposed benefits when there is no supportive scientific evidence," ACCC chairman Graeme Samuel said today.

"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," he said.

The ACCC says Power Balance has 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. “Power Balance has acknowledged that its conduct may have contravened the misleading and deceptive conduct section of the Trade Practices Act 1974,” it says.

The Power Balance wristbands were widely promoted in the media by various sporting celebrities. The wristbands were sold around Australia in sporting stores and also on the Power Balance website www.powerbalance.com.au

"When a product is heavily promoted, sold at major sporting stores, and worn by celebrities, consumers tend to give a certain legitimacy to the product and the representations being made," Samuel said.

To address the ACCC's concerns Power Balance has provided the ACCC with court enforceable undertakings that it will:

• only make claims about its products if they are supported by a written report from an independent testing body that meets certain standards,

• publish corrective advertising to prevent consumers from being misled in the future,

• amend the Australian website to remove any misleading representations,

• change the packaging to remove any misleading representations,

• offer a refund to any consumers that feel they have been misled, and

• remove the words "performance technology" from the band itself.

Consumers with refund enquiries have been told they can call Power Balance on 1800 733 436.

The ACCC has previously taken court action against a number of alternative health providers, including Advanced Allergy Elimination and NuEra, for misleading and deceptive conduct.
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