“Harmony bands”, bovine excrement on Groupon…

"Harmony balance bands", as featured on Groupon

I subscribe to Groupon which often has some fairly interesting and cheap deals.  Companies offer discounts so long as a certain number of people order the deal.  Often it features beauty treatments, yoga, massage, restaurant deals or shopping discounts.  Today, however, they decided to go all-out woo…

[Here’s a link to the current page and here’s a link to a cached version in case Groupon deletes their posts].  People have been waling on these bands (otherwise known as “Power Balance” or “Q-Ray” bands) for some time, ever since the Australian Skeptics absolutely obliterated the product in the media and the courts.  The bands have also been shown to have no effect in controlled trials.  Power Balance in particular were forced to print the following corrective advertisement: “ln our advertising we stated that Power Balance wristbands improved your strength, balance and flexibility. We admit that there is no credible scientific evidence that supports our claims and therefore we engaged in misleading conduct in breach of s52 of the Trade Practices Act 1974.”

Of course this just drives the woo to using vaguer and vaguer claims.  Here’s the text from the Groupon with a few thoughts:

Harmony Balance-Bands, made of tourmaline, seek to stimulate healthy physical activity and improve daily life by emitting approximately 1,500 negative ions per cubic centimetre.

Note “seek to”, not “do”.  The negative ions need more detailed treatment because it is a pretty complicated issue.  I’ll write more on that later…

Some scientists suggest…

“Some scientists suggest…” is a great way of saying “there is no evidence, but we managed to get a few credulous people from outside of the health profession to say…”

…that wearing the negative-ion-emitting bands helps balance the high percentage of positive ions squatting in the atmosphere, which can cause impaired heart function, weakened bones, and constricted blood vessels.

I couldn’t find any evidence during an admittedly-brief literature search for any of these conditions being caused by positive ions “squatting” (whatever that means…) in the atmosphere.  They may be assuming that since scientists are still “suggesting” then they can speculate however they like.

Each colourful bracelet ($40) encircles the wrist in an effort to neutralize free radicals, revitalize cell metabolism, enhance immune function, and break down the fourth wall.

“In an effort to…” is more wiggle room for baseless claims.  It won’t actually do any of those things.

By donning a wrist wrap 24 hours each day, customers often claim to sleep more deeply than a store-bought baby and exercise with the vigour of a bubby [sic] aerobics instructor.

“Customers often claim” – anecdotal evidence in place of science.

Because the bands are free of magnets, pregnant women and swimmers are also able to sport the Harmony Balance arm belts.”

The wonderful thing about rubber bands that have no biological effects is that they will not have any biological effects.  The best thing is that, at $1 to produce, the Groupon discount that the company is offering only reduces its profit margin from 3900% to 1400%.  Best check out the Placebo Band, instead.

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14 thoughts on ““Harmony bands”, bovine excrement on Groupon…

  1. “break down the fourth wall”?

    The only referent I have for this phrase is theatrical, where the (imaginary) fourth wall of the stage is the front, looking out to the audience. To “break the fourth wall” is for an actor to come out of character and address the audience directly.

    Any idea what these quacks mean by it?

  2. Yeah, that struck me as strange as well. I couldn’t find any woo-related mentions of fourth walls so I had assumed it was Groupon being facetious… They often have silly little blurbs to go with the products. Maybe they are subtly poking fun at Harmony Bands…?

  3. I’ll take three- do you sell through this site, or should I send my money to your paypal account?

    Just kidding- I already bought some.

    Cheers- love the post!

    Caleb

    • You can see on their facebook page people talking about it

      http://www.facebook.com/pages/Perfect-Harmony-Balance-Bands/234175673292297?sk=wall

      Plus everyone received this email from groupon,

      Thanks for your interest in the Harmony Balance-Bands Groupon.

      Due to unforeseen circumstances, we have had to cancel this deal. We will automatically issue you a full refund to the form of payment originally used for the purchase.

      We understand how disappointing it is when a great deal is no longer available, but we will always do what is necessary to ensure our customers are satisfied.

      If you purchased with a credit or debit card, please allow up to 10 business days for the refund to appear on your statement. Please don’t hesitate to write us at support@groupon.com if there’s anything else we can do.

      Thank you for your continued support.

      Our sincere apologies,

      Jil M.
      Groupon Customer Support

  4. I also did the following little write up;

    What is really funny about this deal and everyone fails to realize is that this Groupon deal was set out to be the biggest scam a company has ever pulled on Groupon. No one is giving them credit for that.

    Balance-bands.net created on Creation Date: 12-jul-2011, I am guessing for the sole purpose of selling balance bands on Groupon for $15 a pop.

    These are the ones I could find, there could be more.

    Seattle [groupon.com] 2596 Sold
    San Diego [groupon.com] 962 Sold
    Little Rock [groupon.com] 255 Sold
    Toronto [groupon.com] 3306 Sold
    Denver [groupon.com]1352 Sold
    Ottawa [groupon.com]1151 Sold
    Kitchener [groupon.com] 765 Sold
    Calgary [groupon.com] 1197 Sold
    Vancouver [groupon.com] 3448 Sold
    Edmonton [groupon.com] 458 Sold
    Halifax [groupon.com] 449 Sold

    From all of those, 15,939 were sold. There could be more.

    So 15,939 x $15 = $239,085
    Take out groupons 30% commission= $71,725.50
    Balance bands.net ends up with $167,359.50

    Since you couldnt use the groupons until a set date, which was same strategy that VoxComm used for the Tablet scam where he would bulk order from china, linky [groupon.com]
    they could bulk order that 15,939 at one time lets assume .10 each, that would cost them $1593.90 and all the shipping they probably would have ended up with $160,000. Not bad for a company 1 month old.

    Its a pretty smart idea, glad they didnt get away with it.

    Also, anyone coming here thinking $10 is a good deal, they are $3 shipped with prime at amazon, link. [amazon.com]

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