I can just see the Harvard Business School case study: A company creates an online forum for its customers, aiming to pull buyers further in to the brand. But when a problem arises with the product, the online forum transmutes into a force that helps customers with complaints band together, share their woes and call for action. Ultimate outcome: a class-action lawsuit.
The Wall Street Journal has just reported that the company Fitbit faces a lawsuit in California over rashes that developed on customers who wore its Force fitness tracking bracelet. It "alleges the company misled consumers in promoting and advertising the Fitbit Force device."
The suit calls for Fitbit to notify every person who has bought the Fitbit Force device in the state of California, and to arrange to refund the $130 cost of the device, plus tax and any shipping fees. It also calls for Fitbit to provide a full disclosure of the cause of the wrist irritations.
...A Fitbit spokeswoman said the company didn’t have immediate comment.
Can we really connect the dots between the online forum and a class-action lawsuit? Perhaps we'll find out as the suit unfolds. Certainly, the Internet hive-mind makes it ever harder to keep hundreds of nasty rashes secret. Boston health care executive Alexandra Lucas wrote about her own Fitbit rash on CommonHealth here: Love That Fitbit Force Tracker, Don’t Love The Wretched Wrist Rash, and notes the apparent impact of social media on the Fitbit response here.