The iRenew balance bracelet, an "energy-correcting" gadget whose advertisers claim it can heal people holistically, is so bogus as to have earned its marketer the lowest rating from the Better Business Bureau.
The group based its grade on dozens of consumer complaints saying the iRenew Bracelet not only does nothing for their health, but purchasing it puts them through a frustrating cycle of overbilling, slow delivery, and ignored attempts to get a refund.
Sold online and through TV infomercials, the iRenew balance bracelet purports to be a new age rebalancing device that can neutralize the effects of everyday stressors such as traffic jams, tabloid television, and irate bosses. It also claims to help people with balance and instability problems feel more energized.
"In a world where our biofields are under constant attack from the unnatural energy fields and electromagnetic pollution of our daily environments, we believe proper care of your biofield is an important, essential preventative healthcare measure for the 21st century," the iRenew site proclaims. Through a clever mingling of irrefutable facts of modern life, scientific-sounding admonition, and outlandish claims that the bracelet can "keep your own personal energy system balanced in the midst of an unbalanced world," it appears to be banking on consumers' attention to personal well-being.
The bracelet is distributed by Harvest Trading Group, the company behind such "As Seen on TV" items as the One-Touch Can Opener and the Pancake Puff mini-pancake maker. In the three months the contraption has been on the market, it has sold about 400,000 units, according to the BBB. But the marketer has also earned an F rating by the organization, which has recorded about 100 consumer complaints against it.
"Our feeling is there's a pattern of complaints, and 100 complaints that allege similar problems with the product and the company is a lot," Bill Smith, a trade practice investigator with the BBB, told Consumer Ally. "A lot of businesses that deal with this volume of business don't have such high numbers of complaints."
The complaints concern poor customer service, including difficulties getting through to a representative and obtaining refunds, and a general dissatisfaction with the inefficacy of the bracelet.
"A good part of it goes to the way the bracelet is being marketed. Many of the people who purchase it are senior citizens with health problems who have been to their doctors and tried everything. They really are grasping at anything that they think might help them," said Smith, who acknowledged some of the blame falls on consumers for buying into advertising hype too easily.
But James Lewis, owner and president of Harvest Trading Group, disagreed with the rating and said his company promptly addresses complaints. "If you sell 1,000 or 2,000 bracelets -- and we sell many more than that -- you're always going to have one person that's unhappy, even if I drive up to their house and put the bracelet on them," he said.
In an interview with a BBB representative, Lewis also said of the bracelet: "Some people take Advil and it works great; some people, it won't. The commercial shows a black rubber band. It doesn't show a diamond watch."
Michelle Corey, president of the regional BBB office in St. Louis, said the history of American advertising is filled with examples of individuals and businesses trying to profit from marketing questionable "miracle cures" to the public.
The iRenew bracelet has a price tag of $19.99 (plus $7.99 shipping), which if you order "today" entitles you to a "free" second bracelet, which will cost the same steep shipping cost as the first one.
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