You may recall that nearly four years ago we covered the crowdfunding campaign of Breathometer, a startup that promised a keychain sized breathalyzer that plugged into your mobile phone to measure a user’s blood alcohol level (BAC).
While the device seemed like a great idea, even making an appearance on ABC’s Shark Tank, the FTC has ordered the company to offer refunds to folks who bought the device from 2013 to 2015. Breathometer says it stopped selling its breathalyzer products in early 2015, ahead of the FTC’s complaint.
In May 2016, Breathometer sent a letter to retailers and an email to registered users alerting them of the device inaccuracies, and in October last year the company disabled the breathlyzer feature altogether in its app.
When the device first hit Indiegogo, we said:
… Anything that can help keep drunk drivers off of the road to prevent them from hurting others and even themselves is a project that deserves funding.
Sadly, it turns out that, despite Breathometer’s claims it sold “law enforcement grade” breathalyzers, a user’s BAC reading would frequently be off. The FTC says that not only could the device’s results be lower than someone’s actual BAC level, but readings could also be affected by ambient humidity and temperature.
As a part of the settlement with the FTC, Breathometer has agreed to offer full refunds to users who request one. “We’re now working with [the FTC] to make sure claims are what they should be and to make sure our manufacturing is rock solid,” Yim told TechCrunch. “We didn’t have a great manufacturer and so that didn’t match up to the claims that we made.”
The refund claim forms will soon be available online at www.breathometer.com.