In March, Google announced a voluntary recall of 1.7 million Fitbit Ionic smartwatches after reports of 78 burns. Now, a recently filed lawsuit says the recall didn’t go far enough, claiming the same defect affects all of Google’s Fitbit devices.
According to the court documents, all Fitbit smartwatches and fitness trackers have the same defect: a tendency to overheat, causing burns or a fire hazard. The complaint also accuses Fitbit of trying to blame “consumer hygiene” when incidents are reported, and that the recall does not adequately compensate Ionic owners.
“Reasonable consumers,” the indictment reads, “purchase the Products to burn calories — not their skin — and to safely pursue a healthy lifestyle using a smartwatch.” The lawsuit is asking for class-action status.
The two plaintiffs in the case had both purchased devices from the Versa range – a Versa Lite and a Versa 2 – not the Ionic. In addition, the complaint shows photos of burns from users who had other devices, including the Sense, Versa 3, Blaze, Inspire and Inspire 2. It also includes multiple Fitbit owner accounts that are being ghosted by the company’s customer support.
At the heart of the lawsuit is a claim that although Fitbit has recalled the Ionic, it has not done so for its other devices, although they can also burn users. As a result, customers may be unaware that they are carrying a potential fire hazard. In particular, the case raises fears that customers could wear a smartwatch during a flight, unaware that the battery may be defective. It also notes that while Fitbit offered full refunds to Ionic owners, the company is dragging its feet when it comes to providing those refunds.
I cannot say that I am very surprised to see these allegations. While I’ve never encountered the issue while reviewing Fitbit devices, I’ve seen multiple complaints popping up on Reddit and other social media platforms over the years where various Fitbit products are said to have burned or irritated users’ skin. While anecdotal, many of those accounts also referred to Fitbit taking months to issue refunds or even respond.
The court documents similarly contain several screenshots of replies to the @FitbitSupport Twitter where customers were frustrated with llong wait times and unresponsive customer service while trying to get refunds for the recently recalled Ionic. We also heard independently from a tipster that the Ionic recall process is slow.
Fitbit did not immediately respond to a request for comment.