ONLY ON CLIFFVIEW PILOT: It was an odd coincidence: While Bergen County authorities were trumpeting the arrest of a Rockland County woman for selling counterfeits at a Paramus mall of a $30 “power bracelet” that promises better balance, strength and flexibility, the manufacturers responsible for the raid were admitting that the genuine article is actually a sham.
In other words, the knockoffs — reportedly made for a nickel each — were no different in terms of effectiveness. All both of the bands apparently do is tighten your wallet.
Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli said his detectives were dispatched to the Garden State Plaza in Paramus after the California-based distributor of the bracelets asked that the counterfeit business be stopped.
A spokesman for the company called it a “monumental day” and a “watershed moment” because of what Molinelli’s investigators did. However, one online observer said it was more a matter of: “Snake oil salesman cries to the cops about another snake oil salesman ripping them off.”
Let’s be clear: Molinelli’s investigators have charged Rockland County businesswoman Claudia M. Lozon — the owner of the two kiosks where the knockoffs were sold — with counterfeiting.
Even if their product is overpriced or worthless, the manufacturer still owns the patent, commerce is still commerce and counterfeiting is still a crime, even if it’s a duplicate of a magic pill that promises to increase the size of your checking account. Nowhere did the prosecutor’s office make any claims itself about the original product.
The sticky part is going to come in calculating the potential losses to the manufacturer. Before he knew of the Australian distributor’s confession, Molinelli said claims could reach hundreds of thousands of dollars. But word travels fast on the Internet, and the company already has chopped the price in half in recent months, from its original $60, amid consumer complaints.
Yes, anyone with half a brain knows you can’t defy the laws of physics by wrapping a bangle stamped with a hologram around your wrist. We also know that a product sold directly to the public on an infomercial — without publication in scientific journals or peer review process of its logic-defying “performance technology” — isn’t worth the time it takes to hear the sales pitch.
With consumer groups turning up the heat, a branch of the Australian government got the manufacturer there to admit, in an advertisement, that there “is no credible scientific basis” for its claims.
What’s more, the makers must refund any “Power Bracelet” customer who feels misled by what were touted as the benefits of the pricey rubber bands AND remove all of the relevant claims from the products and all advertising.
Already, the Internet is buzzing with wry observations and wisecracks:
“How do those Power Balance bracelets work? I think it’s because of the 20-Hz difference between a genius and an ascending colon” was the headline of a video in which the bracelets are tested.
Sports figures including Drew Brees, Shane Victorino and Shaquille O’Neal testified to the bands’ amazing power. The manufacturers credited the special Chinese holograms, which, they said, boosted the wearer‘s “natural energy field.” (At this point you cannot be blamed for recalling the coughs that Dean Wormer heard from the frat boys in “Animal House.”)
“Power Balance has admitted that there is no credible scientific basis for the claims and therefore no reasonable grounds for making rep res entations about the benefits of the product,” said Graeme Samuel, chairman of The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
“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.
“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.”