If you’ve ever headed down to Coles or the Apple store in Southgate mall, you may have noticed the innocuous-looking Lifestrength booth in the mall. It’s typically staffed by a bored-looking teenager selling boxes of bracelets. Most people tend to ignore them on their way to buy some Apple products or steal the free wi-fi at Starbucks.
But on occasion, either an energetic salesperson will be actively pushing the product, or a curious customer will mistakenly approach the booth. It’s covered in posters about how Lifestrength’s bracelets give off negative ions that are supposed to relieve pain, improve balance and increase energy. The salesperson will even let the customer hold a bracelet and demonstrate how much their balance has improved by trying to push them over. And at a one-time-only price of $30, it’s almost too good to be true.
Let’s get one thing straight: it is too good to be true.
Similar ‘ionized’ bracelets have been around for years, and studies have been performed on both the people wearing the bracelets and the bracelets themselves. The people wearing Lifestrength bracelets have consistently shown no benefit relative to a placebo, and the bracelets have typically contained nothing more than a hologram and an inactive metal strip. Essentially these bracelets are nothing more than typical charity wristbands with aluminum foil on the inside — and in no way do they actually help people.
This was the foundation of a court ruling in 2006 against another magic bracelet producer, Q-Ray, in the United States. It was determined that they actively lied to customers, and as a result they were forced to pay up to $87 million. As both Q-Ray and Lifestrength promise the same results with essentially identical bracelets, it isn’t much of a stretch to imagine that Lifestrength’s claims are equally as false.
The most disturbing part of the Lifestrength pitch is the physical demonstrations they perform at their booths.
There are countless videos on the internet explaining how these work, but in essence simply changing how the salesperson applies force to a customer can make them feel exceptionally strong or exceptionally weak, purely at the salesperson’s discretion. A customer interested in seeing if the bracelets are as magical as claimed may not even notice the change in force application, as it’s very subtle. These are the crudest of carnival tricks taught to the salespeople, and practiced in order to be performed effectively.
Even if negative ions had magical health benefits — they don’t — and even if these bracelets gave off a perfect medicinal amount of them — which they also don’t — and even if these bracelets were so perfect they immediately improved balance — which there is no evidence — we still have salespeople who are actively and consciously lying and cheating to convince customers that their product works. Anyone with an internet connection could easily learn the tricks that they use, and if these bracelets really worked, customers wouldn’t need to be tricked into buying them.
The remnants of chivalry still linger today, especially in the dating world.