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Aug 17 / Dan DeFelippi

Groupon Knowingly Promotes Scam Products And Doesn’t Care

Harmony Balance-Bands scam products

A big pile of scam (image used under Fair Use)

Update: Groupon refunded both Harmony Balance-Band deals shortly after the San Diego one ended. Congratulations Groupon!

I’ve been a fan of Groupon, from a consumer perspective, since it first launched. While I haven’t been buying many of their deals I’ve been monitoring each new city as I travel to see if I can find some good local deals. Yesterday I was disturbed when I found the deal for San Diego was for Harmony Balance-Bands. You may have heard of these scam products, a rubber bracelet with a hologram stuck on it. The companies promoting these products all claim they improve your balance, with Harmony Balance-Bands stacking on some additional pseudoscientific claims. The fact is these are nothing more than a $0.10 bracelet made in China. They have no special powers. They don’t improve your balance. The demonstration many of the companies use has been thoroughly debunked. ESPN also showed they do nothing. The biggest promotor, PowerBalance, admitted they do nothing and refunded customers. One group in Australia stepped up and created Placebo Bands, inexpensive knockoffs that clearly show how they are nothing more than a placebo.

With the facts about this product well-established, I was surprised when I saw Groupon promoting it. Promoting a scam tarnishes their brand. Of course they’re making money from the suckers that buy the product, so perhaps they feel the money they make is worth the brand damage. When I saw the number 2 in the URL I realized this isn’t the first time Groupon has promoted this scam. It was also promoted in Toronto a week prior, selling 3,306 bands at $15 CAD each. Assuming Groupon is taking 50%, that’s a cool $24,795 CAD! Combining that with the money from the San Diego sale, they’re well over $30,000.

I decided to contact Groupon to request they take down this scam product. I left two comments on the deal page and send a comment on Twitter. The deal page comments were moderated and never showed up. We wouldn’t want the public to know the product is a scam would we? They might not purchase it. They responded on Twitter to email, which I promptly did. I received a generic response that basically said if I didn’t like it, wait for the next deal. This clearly indicates to me that Groupon doesn’t care the product is a scam, the money is just too good.

I’m sick and tired of these pseudoscientifc scams being pulled on the unknowing public. I’ve filed a complaint with the FTC against Pro Peptides Inc (the company behind the bands) and Groupon Inc. I doubt it will be investigated but I can always be hopeful. I urge you to also complain to Groupon through Twitter, email and leave comments on the deal site.

Edit 2: Now, almost five years later (June 1, 2016), I’ve been forced to revisit this post. Justin Crabbe, the person who sold the Harmony Balance-Bands, has issued a DMCA takedown notice. One of his customers posted a support email response signed by Crabbe detailing how to order directly from him. Apparently he didn’t like it being posted here and wanted it taken down. It has been removed temporarily but will almost certainly be back in a new blog post about Justin Crabbe, his current company, Powerhouse Internet Marketing, Fair Use and anti-SLAPP laws.


  1. Sally L. / Aug 24 2011

    I had purchased this “deal” through Groupon (I have a friend that says the bands work for her), Order placed early in the month of August through the Denver Deal. It said I couldn’t redeem it until the 17th of Aug. I ordered mine through their website on the 18th. Sent an email to the company yesterday to see if it had been shipped yet (assuming it had not as it still said processing) then today I just got an email from Groupon stating:

    Hi Sally,

    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 if there’s anything else we can do.

    Thank you for your continued support.

    Our sincere apologies,

    Jil M.
    Groupon Customer Support

    I have sent another email to Harmony Bands, but doubt I hear anything back. There thank you for sending us an email page says they GUARANTEE to get back to you within 24 hours. A few more hours and that will be up, and I am not holding my breath.


  2. Lpl / Aug 24 2011

    Hi, I just received an email from Groupon sayiung it was cancelled. Phew… thank goodness.

  3. P B / Aug 25 2011

    I know people who swear by these things and ordered 6 from Groupon and also got the cancellation email stating they are refunding my money. I was kinda pissed but now maybe it was a good thing.
    I noticed that the CNN and other endorsements are no longer on the my opinion..something seems off. That video was pretty interesting debunking the bands.

  4. DL / Aug 25 2011

    Hi, I know you think you are saving the masses by getting the WORD out there, but do a little research into placebo effects first. If you feel better from a placebo effect, great, no harm done. Let people buy the darn things! I personally know people who suffer from chronic pain, and feel these things help reduce it. Let them go on thinking they work : )

    • Dan DeFelippi / Aug 25 2011

      That fact that the company is marketing it as an effective product is the problem. If they market it like Placebo Bands that I linked to above then there’s nothing wrong with it. Plus it costs them $1 or less to make them and then they sell for a 1500% markup because they imply the bands actually do something.

  5. LJ / Aug 25 2011

    There is more to it than whether or not these bands actually do anything. The site for this “Groupon deal” seems to be waving red flags. The Groupon was cancelled but now e-mails are being sent from the Harmony Balance site to basically say “Hey, something went wrong so come buy it for $5 cheaper.” They have one code for this deal which can be shared with anyone and you can have unlimited buys. Like stated above, you no longer see things on the site like “As seen on CNN”. Once you get to the checkout, I also noticed that they save your address but not your credit card info and when they ask for it, there seems to be no security and appears very different than when the Groupon was going on.
    If you have to try it out. Don’t do it here!

  6. CC / Aug 25 2011

    Just received the same email from Harmony Balance Bands today too and still nothing from Groupon. Hmmm…Something just didn’t seem right when I checked Harmony’s facebook page the other day and all comments had been deleted and a new page started up with even less information on it, yet their page was full of info/comments less than 2 weeks ago. Too good to be true I guess 🙂

  7. RL / Aug 28 2011

    I got dubbed 🙁
    I keep getting this email saying I am confused about the ‘Dealextension” offer (which I figured I could try buying.), but still I get no response from them.

  8. Lynn / Aug 31 2011

    Any company that addresses its patrons as “you guys” sounds extremely immature and unprofessional.

    For that reason alone, I have refrained from taking it up on its offer.

    I’m a little surprised, though, that the media have not picked up on this issue, particularly in view of Groupon’s position among the group buying sites.

  9. Katatrepsis / Sep 1 2011

    Is the cancellation mentioned on any websites? I’d love to get a link to that, especially if the cancellation was due to the lack of evidence of efficacy…

    • Robert / Sep 1 2011

      The cancellations werent mentioned on any websites, Groupon did it very silently and only emailed people who bought them. I wrote the following write up on a deal forum and will paste it here for others to enjoy.

      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. 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 [] 2596 Sold
      San Diego [] 962 Sold
      Little Rock [] 255 Sold
      Toronto [] 3306 Sold
      Denver []1352 Sold
      Ottawa []1151 Sold
      Kitchener [] 765 Sold
      Calgary [] 1197 Sold
      Vancouver [] 3448 Sold
      Edmonton [] 458 Sold
      Halifax [] 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 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 []
      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 scam, it could have even been orchestrated by someone on slickdeals, you never know!

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

  10. Matt / Sep 1 2011

    Uh oh, now I have a bad feeling about all this. I had my groupon refunded as well and then also received an email for the $10 deal… I thought it was a great deal so I purchased one Harmony Balance Band black/black. I ordered it on August 25th and it still hasn’t even been shipped yet,wtf? And I’ve sent them messages asking about it several times throughout this week and no replies from them…despite the 24hour reply guarantee.

    Thinking I might be out $10 now. I should have looked into it more because afterwards I checked contact info and they don’t have any which is pretty shady… what an awesome scam if it is one. Uses Groupon to create consumer trust, posts CNN endorsements all over it (doesn’t mean much to me but atleast it was something), and then tries to woo you by giving you a steal of a deal!

    The negative ions that they are marketing do actually work, I’ve done extensive research on negative ions and they improve all that they say because they basically help your body in becoming more alkaline or neutral.

    I wonder if I’ll ever even get my band now? It says awaiting shipment… Thanks for posting this because I was trying to figure out wth was going on! Probably be the last groupon I ever deal with…too bad, lessen learned.

    • andrea / Sep 7 2011

      i am in the exact same situation…ordered on the same date and my account still says awaiting shipment. sent 2 emails and no response either. funny how you can only email them and there is no phone number to contact them. wondering if i should phone my credit card company and see what they can do about reversing the charges or filing a dispute.

  11. Matt / Sep 1 2011

    P.S. I never would have even thought about buying a harmony balance band if it wasn’t for groupon…

  12. Robert / Sep 1 2011

    Matt, makes you wonder how a company less then 1 month old was able to get Groupon to put there product in over 11 major markets for $15 for an item you can buy for $3 at

  13. Robert / Sep 1 2011

    They went from selling thousands on groupon, to posting ads on craiglist

  14. Matt / Sep 2 2011

    Even found their Facebook page… it was just created in Aug! lol and no one has replied to any of the questions I’ve sent through both their website, the Pro Peptides website, and their FB page. I had no idea it was from Pro Peptides in Ontario…why the hell is a pheromone and steroid company selling wrist bands? lmao

    Wow now I have no faith whatsoever in this product. I checked again today and it still says my product is awaiting shipment and yet it says that they are supposed to ship it to you that day or the next day!

    Needless to say I’m pretty upset with Groupon… a little to do with them putting Harmony Balance Bands on their site but more so because they cancelled the deal and had no explanation why… if I had known why I would never have purchased one through the “DEALEXTENSION” code. Pretty peeved now, oh well I suppose. I’ll most likely still use groupon for some local stuff as I’ve had a couple great deals on produce and haircuts at ritzy hair salons lol.

  15. Robert / Sep 3 2011

    Matt, the one thing that bothers me is that a 3 week old company with no prior history of anything was able to get groupon to approve their business and sell over 16k, I now question groupons approval process for business, whats scary is groupon often offers Lasik deals, how much research do they put into that? Scary

  16. VR Hunter / Sep 7 2011

    Wow! Wish I’d seen this BEFORE I ordered 5 bracelets! Scammed!

  17. Deb / Sep 10 2011

    It’s not done yet. Groupon Australia are marketing them today. I smelled a rat, what with a teensy product that said I’d have to wait a month for delivery, and whether they did what they say, so went on a review hunt. Shame, groupon, for just translating to another market!

  18. Bruce P. Schiwitz / Sep 12 2011

    I have set up a FaceBook page devoted to allowing people to post comments regarding their experience with Pro Peptides Inc & their so-called Harmony Balance Bands. Anyone who uses FB is welcome to post their experiences there – good or bad. The only censorship I will practice is to remove posts that are off topic or that use inappropriate or foul language. Feel free to pass this info along.

    • Tiger / Sep 27 2011

      What I find so inetresting is you could never find this anywhere else.

  19. Bruce P. Schiwitz / Sep 12 2011

    For folks that did follow through on ordering through Pro Peptides after the Groupon offer was cancelled, here’s a little something to look at –

    Doesn’t quite look like USPS Priority Mail to me….. And NO RETURN ADDRESS, even though the person who received this was told they could return the bracelet for a full refund.

    My personal advice – begin the process of disputing the charge on your credit cards NOW!!! It takes a while and is headache. ProPeptides no doubt counts on most people not wanting to go to that much trouble for 10bucks. If you don’t challenge the charge, that’s just more money in the scammers pockets.

  20. Sam sam / Sep 15 2011

    My story includes all of the above. I called my Credit Card company ( CIBC VISA ) and within 5 minutes got fumm refund credited to my account. Don’t think twice call you Credit Card Company and dispute the charges. It’s easier and faster than you think. With in 5 min I had my money back. And No more headakes

  21. Matt / Sep 15 2011

    New update: Received my Harmony Balance band today (like 3 weeks after order). My band was received by itself loosely in single packaging with no invoice or any paper work for that matter…very odd for a so-called reputable company and product.

    Checked out their facebook page today and it was completely wiped of all previous comments… there were a lot of complaints and questions from other customers… all gone miraculously. I still can’t believe I fell for this. This is the first time I’ve ever been scammed but at least it was only $10!

    The product itself looks cheaper than the “LiveStrong” bands and I also noticed that my band looked dusty and dirty as hell. The strangest thing about the band is the fact that it says Harmony Balance Band everywhere but there’s no trademark symbol to be found… in fact there are no legal symbols anywhere on the product. I’m finally coming out of denial and realizing this is definitely a huge scam. No one wants to admit they’ve been scammed but no one should buy this product unless they just like the look of it.

    Groupon makes me sick to even think about now. How could they lure me in to this deal, then take it away from me but not give a reason why, and then leave me hanging with the curiosity of the product they advertised but left without the product itself. It was perfect for Harmony to offer the DEALEXTENSION immediately afterwards. It’s not even the fact that I’m out $10 that makes me mad but the fact that Groupon never even hinted a reason as to why the deal didn’t work. It also worries me that these scam artists over at Pro Peptides in Richmond Hill, Ontario have all of our credit card info…

    “Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me”

    • Robert / Sep 29 2011

      It is funny if you go to balance bands website now they updated the website with the actual product they were selling, when they first launched they never had the product in stock and used some mockup photo that looks completely different then the actual images they have now.

  22. craig / Oct 25 2011

    In the old days the scammers would have to move their wagon to the next town to sell scam potions and elixirs. Now the use Groupon.

    It may not be the same company but another type of band has just been promoted here in the UK on Groupon and is approaching 2000 sales so far.

    So as well as selling invites to time-share sales pitches, sorry, bargain short breaks, Groupon has moved into scam promotion.

    There are too many ‘if it is on Groupon it must be a bargain’ disciples already.

  23. Dalia / Jan 4 2012

    Groupon is a major scam with disastrous customer service and no recourse if the product is damaged prior to delivery! Do not use

    • Maz Har / Feb 15 2012

      I’m with you there!

  24. Suzy Pollock / Jan 27 2012

    Groupon in South Africa is scamming us regularly with fake products.

    Have to read to believe:

  25. Maz Har / Feb 15 2012

    I purchased 2 Magna Mesh Magnetic Fly Screens from Groupon Australia in Jan 2012. I made the payment and it said that I will receive a voucher that I need to redeem. I received the voucher and I followed the procedure. I received only 1 of them today so I contacted Groupon. After a 40 minute wait, I was told that I had to redeem 2 vouchers and that the deal has ended and I will not be able to get a refund. Funny enough the money for the Magna Mesh x 2 was deducted from my account as one purchase not two. I called Groupon Australia and got nowhere fast.

    What a rip off, how many people are they doing this to? One purchase = one voucher OR else they should specify that when the purchase is made. I hope that there are other sites I can put this on because I will.

    It seems that these companies have the licence to be criminals.

  26. Jolita / Feb 28 2012

    SCAM! SCAM! SCAM! SCAM! 1 second ago

    Groupon are a scam!! They are offering IPL laser hair removalyesterday and today the same deal, 6 sessions for £99 instead of £350, thats £251 saving 72% discount. WRONG!!! I could have got this deal even if Groupon didn’t offer this on their site and sometime ago and even TODAY!

    Having researched the company, EUROLASE, offering it, I came across a GUMTREE AD, from EUROLASE offering the same!! So how on earth can Groupon say they are giving us the customer a discount when there’s no discount there????? It’s a scam!!!!! I even called the company and some woman who can’t even speak clear and concise english was happy to offer me the deal on Gumtree!!!! Groupon are not saving us money with back street companies like EUROLASE!!!!!!!! Why would any company post an AD on Gumtree unless its a back street one?!?!? This has definitely opened my eyes and I will definitely be doing my research before I buy any offers!!!

    Oh and 1 last thing this same company offered the same deal Groupon has at the moment for £59 with KGB last week, Yet AGAIN it wasn’t a 80% or 90% discount they were saying because I could have got it for £99!!!! They are all scammers!!!!!!

    • Dan DeFelippi / Feb 28 2012

      That is not a scam Jolita, it’s an underhanded marketing tactic that many businesses use. A scam would be selling a product that doesn’t work (like the original post), misrepresenting what a product is, or selling something and not providing it.

      Many stores use the tactic of pricing a product high and then offering it at a much lower “sale” price all the time. It’s sleazy but common and certainly not a scam.

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