Fitbits were one of the bestselling and most popular gifts of the holiday season. However, a would-be class action lawsuit filed on Tuesday claims Fitbit engages in unfair trade practices by selling “wildly inaccurate” pulse trackers and informing consumers of a lawsuit ban after they buy the product. The makers of the wearable fitness bracelet are under scrutiny for the accuracy how the device tracks heart rates during exercise and the way they easily trick their customer’s into agreements.
The plaintiffs in this case described that Fitbit underreported their heart rate when compared to readings by a personal trainer, a chest-strap triathlon monitor and an exercise machine. Compared to what the company advertises with such slogans as “Every Beat Counts” and “Know Your Heart”, a test by a cardiologist who compared the device with an electrocardiogram found that, for heart rates above 110 beats per minute, the Fitbits were off by an average of about 25 beats per minute, the suit alleges. In the suit, consumers from three different states, California, Colorado and Wisconsin allege that despite Fitbit’s high-visibility advertising campaign around the heart rate tracking in its product, the monitors don’t actually “count every beat”. As such a popular product to come under fire, the Fitbit has jolted fitness enthusiasts who want a reliable product for their health. Still, this is not the first time that the Fitbit has been sued .
The First Lawsuit
In the spring of 2014, consumers filed a suit alleging that the company misled them in the advertising of Fitbit Force wristband after many complained about skin rashes that where forming around the device. The Fitbit Force was then pulled from the market and later, the company reintroduced a similar product called the Charge. Apparently, this new device had new materials that underwent rigorous testing.
In a January 14, 2014 posting on the company’s website, the Chief Executive of Fitbit, James Park, said the cause of the irritation was most likely an allergic reaction to nickel, a component of the Fitbit Force which is also found in many everyday consumer products. Due to customer complaints and the pending lawsuit, the company began to offer refunds for dissatisfied customers. As more and more people came forward, James Park issued another statement on February 14, 2014 stating that the company’s continued investigation pointed to “allergic contact dermatitis”. About a week later, the company pulled the device form the market and issued a voluntary recall.
At the time of said recall, Fitbit reported to the Consumer Product Safety Commission that it knew of a little under 10,000 cases of consumers having a skin reaction after wearing the Force. As such, the CPSC said that there were one million unites subject to that recall .
Kate McLellan, one of the three plaintiffs in the California lawsuit told TODAY that, “My Fitbit was saying that [my heart rate] was at 114, which is really, really low.” After testing out her issues with the Fitbit, she found that the heart rate monitor, when compared to those on the equipment at her gym was way off. Upon discovery of the problem, she contacted Fitbit’s customer service and was eventually denied a refund for the product.
However, the company is stressing that Fitbit trackers are designed to provide meaningful data to help users reach health and fitness goals, and they are not intended to be scientific or medical devices.
Another issue with the company deals with unfair business practices. McLellan’s lawyers are seeking a class-action status for the lawsuit, saying that the company is treating its customers unfairly. In fact, in order to even use the device, you must log into the Fitbit’s website and register the heat rate monitor. This happens after you’ve already bought it. As such, customers sign into an agreement with an arbitration clause and a class-action band. And while customers have 30 days to opt out of the arbitration agreement, none of this is known until after the fact—if even at all. Therefore, the company unfairly tricks customers into buying the device by advertising that it’s vital in exercise and then forces said consumers into a contract by making it mandatory to sign up online for the device to work.
Although many stand behind the product, some are also not buying it—literally and mentally. This lawsuit is just another jab into the company’s reliability and effectiveness. The company’s stock also dropped 20 percent after their latest product, Fitbit Blaze, disappointed investors. After all is said and done, the company may have to put up a fight in court or pull another product from the market.
Dolman Law Group
The attorneys at Dolman Law Group take questionable devices and products on the market very seriously. When companies advertise that a product is supposed to do something and not only does it not perform its function, but it also binds people with unfair business practices, our lawyers are experienced enough to advocate for you. We also buy these products, hoping to achieve exactly what the product is invented to do. Don’t let popular businesses get away with deceitful practices.
If you or loved one has purchased a Fitbit or other product that is not functioning the way that it was advertised, please call the lawyers at Dolman Law Group to evaluate your claim. We the people have the authority to hold companies responsible for delivering faulty products to the masses. Help us to help you and in return, you could help all consumers. Contact us at (727) 853-6275 today for a free scheduled consultation and evaluation.
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