Fitbit misled customers about faulty product warranties

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If you’re building your summer body this winter, you may have warranty grounds on that faulty Fitbit that’s been sitting in your drawer.

Australia’s consumer watchdog has reported that between November 2016 and March 2017, Fitbit told customers that its warranty against faulty products was only available for one year.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) also said that Fitbit told customers that its products would only be replaced for the remainder of the calendar year or 30 days – whichever was longer.

Under Australian Consumer Law (ACL), retailers must provide a remedy for all faulty goods under the consumer guarantee obligations. The ACCC fielded over 100 complaints about Fitbit’s representations.

“Fitbit has acknowledged that it may have breached the law by misrepresenting what customers were entitled to for faulty products,” ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court said.

“If a business offers its own limited express warranty, they must make it clear that the warranty is in addition to the remedies available under the Australian Consumer Law consumer guarantees, not instead of them.

“The Australian Consumer Law provides automatic rights that cannot be excluded, restricted or modified.

“If goods you purchase fail to meet a consumer guarantee, you are entitled to remedies which include repair, replacement or refund depending on the circumstances.”

Fitbit has cooperated with the ACCC and has extended its express manufacturer’s warranty from one year to two years for Australian consumers.

Fitbit will also make amendments to product packaging, making it clearer about the additional express warranties offered in addition to ACL.

The company has also started to provide contact details on its website for consumers to seek remedies if they experiencing issues with their Fitbits, and to train customer service staff about consumers’ rights.

“The quality of Fitbit products and customer satisfaction are our top priorities,” a representative for Fitbit said. “We are proud of our high standard of customer service and work to ensure that customer complaints are resolved quickly and to the utmost satisfaction of our customers.”

ACCC’s undertaking also requires Fitbit to amend the terms of ‘Fitbit Premium’ to ensure notice is given to consumers before premium service fees are automatically renewed.

Fitbit customers are urged to contact Fitbit at help.fitbit.com if they have any questions or concerns.

Fitbit is headquartered in San Francisco, and in Australia offers smart watches and fitness trackers from $79.95.

Fitbit history of consumer bugbears

Fitbit’s misleading warranty claims is not the first set of issues that have plagued the company. In March 2014, Fitbit announced a refund program for the ‘Force’ model.

The company recalled this model due to complaints about the wristband causing skin irritations. Users reportedly developed allergic reactions to the stainless steel casing, materials used in the strap and/or the adhesives used to assemble the product.

Nearly 10,000 customers reported reactions that developed redness or rashes, and about 250 reported blistering after coming into contact with the wristbands.

The recall affected one million US consumers and around 28,000 in Canada.

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