St. Louis, Mo., Sept. 27, 2010 – The Better Business Bureau in St. Louis reports that consumers say that an “energy-balancing” bracelet widely advertised as an aid to improved flexibility, balance and strength has done nothing to improve their health.
Other customers have told the Better Business Bureau (BBB) that they have been frustrated by overbilling, slow delivery and failed attempts to obtain refunds from the Massachusetts-based company that markets the bracelets.
The BBB suggests caution to anyone considering buying the iRenew bracelet, which is advertised on TV in Missouri, Illinois and across the U.S. The bracelet is distributed by Harvest Trading Group of Norwell, Mass., a company that has marketed such “as seen on TV” items as the One Touch Can Opener and the Pancake Puff mini-pancake maker. Harvest Trading Group has a “D” grade with the BBB on a scale of A to F. The BBB in Boston reports about 100 complaints against the company.
“This is a scam of the highest order and I’m the stupid customer,” said a Clayton, Mo., man who ordered two of the bracelets from Harvest Trading Group at a cost of $35. He said he had bought the bracelets, hoping they would help alleviate an ongoing problem with dizziness and balance, but they provided no relief. He said he tried several times to call the company to get a refund, but was never able to get through to a customer service representative and ultimately gave up.
Michelle Corey, president and CEO of the BBB in St. Louis, said the history of American advertising is filled with examples of individuals and businesses marketing questionable miracle cures to the public. She pointed to a disclaimer in small print at the bottom of the iRenew website, www.buyirenew.com, that says the potential health benefits of the bracelet, “have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.”
On its Web site, the company says its bracelets use “nano-based biofield technology” that “not only improves the biofields of people but also can positively impact anything biological which includes the biofields of plants and animals as well.” The company also has marketed an iRenew pendant for animals.
“You will be amazed how well your body can function when your biofield is more properly balanced,” the site says.
Consumers have told the BBB that they felt the bracelets were useless, their TV commercials were misleading, the cost of shipping and handling was exorbitant and/or obtaining a refund proved to be extremely difficult.
An 82-year-old woman from the Wappapello Lake area of southeast Missouri said she ordered two bracelets last month after seeing a TV commercial. She said she hoped using the product would improve her dizziness, especially since the ads showed people whose balance appeared to improve dramatically after putting on the bracelets. “My son said I was wasting my time. I’m going to tell him he was right.” She said the only change she experienced after putting on a bracelet was a feeling of numbness in her fingers, possibly because the band was too tight.
A 75-year-old woman from Valley Springs, Calif., said she and her husband took advantage of a two-for-one bracelet offer, believing the product might help him with dizziness and balance problems brought on by two strokes. “It gave him hope,” she said. “It sounded so convincing.” She said they were charged more than $70 for two bracelets including $31 for shipping and handling. She said the bracelets weigh no more than a few ounces each and she mailed them back for $3.10, including the cost of insurance, when her husband discovered they did nothing to ease his symptoms. Later, she said, she noticed two unauthorized charges from the company totaling another $140. “Somebody is making millions of dollars on people like us, who have health problems,” she said.
"I wouldn’t tell anybody to buy it,” said a 62-year-old breast cancer survivor from Riverton, Wyo., who had hoped the bracelet would help her with balance problems. “I’ve tried it several times; it’s not doing anything.”
A senior citizen from Snow Hill, N.C., said after ordering the bracelet, “I’m still stumbling around like a drunk man. I’m gullible; I’m old,” he said. “I think it’s a horrible thing that they can get away with it.”
James P. Lewis, owner and president of Harvest Trading Group, told the BBB his company makes no guarantees about the benefit of the bracelets.
“It’s like anything,” he said. “Some people take Advil and it works great; some people, it won’t.”
Lewis said that anyone who is not happy with the bracelet is entitled to a money-back guarantee, less shipping and handling costs. He said the bracelet has been “wildly popular,” selling some 400,000 in the past three months. He expects sales to reach 1 million. He also said his company has received numerous testimonials from people helped by the bracelet.
“Obviously, with this kind of volume, you’re going to have people upset. We expect more complaints and we expect to address them,” he said. He said there is nothing misleading about the company’s commercials. The commercial shows a black rubber band, he said. “It doesn’t show a diamond watch.”
He said he does not know exactly how the product works, saying only that an electronic charge is somehow put into the bracelet. But, he said, “There’s a science behind it.” He offered to put the BBB in contact with the product inventor to explain the technology. That person had not contacted the BBB by the time this release was issued.
The BBB offers the following advice from people looking at alternative methods of improving their health:
- Consult your physician before trying any product marketed to improve your health. Ask your doctor whether you could benefit from the product.
- Before ordering any product that is advertised on TV, radio, the Internet or in print publications, make sure you read all information carefully, including any disclaimers or fine print. In the event you might want to return the item, ask whether you will be able to get a refund of your postage and handling costs.
- Check a company’s Reliability Report with the BBB by going to www.bbb.org.