Aug 9, 2017

Tale of Two Fitbits

A few years ago, thanks to my previous employer's healthy lifestyle program, I got more active and started using a Fitbit Charge fitness tracker.  As a numbers person, I really enjoyed seeing my progress and stats.  Within a year, the band started coming apart at the seams and then one day the button control on the side fell out. 

It was still under warranty, so I contacted Fitbit and they sent me another one.  I thought.... Great customer service!

Again, less than a year later, the replacement Fitbit started having issues.  First, the band started coming apart at the seams (around the 9 month mark) and then a few weeks later, I was driving home from work and the band broke and fell off my arm!

This is just one side.  Both the top and bottom edges on the face of the tracker also came loose and there was bubbling under the band.

I went to the Fitbit website to communicate via chat with a customer service rep.  Word to the wise... the "year warranty" does not apply to a replacement Fitbit.  The warranty starts from the time you get the first Fitbit.  As such, the rep offered me a 25% discount to upgrade to a new Fitbit because I was past the one year warranty period.  WTH? If they send me a brand-spanking new Fitbit, it should have a warranty.  The rep wrote his offer with such enthusiasm!  I told him a product so expensive should not fall apart within a year, not once but twice and that there are hundreds of documented cases online.  He assured me he'd accelerate my "case" to a supervisor and follow up in an email with my 'options'.  I had an inkling of what was to come so I insisted on waiting for a supervisor answer.  After repeated attempts on my part, the rep told me no supervisor was available and he wasn't going to re-discuss it.  Really?

The next day, I received the email as promised... and as I thought, the email contained the 25% discount offer!  Peturbed at the run-around, I responded back: 

"As I stated in the chat I will NOT be spending money on another Fitbit replacement. This is a well known issue and a company such as Fitbit should stand behind their products especially since this has happened TWICE on two different devices.  To give me the run around in chat about how I was going to be offered 'options' in email is abhorrent customer service!  Valued Fitbit member indeed."

A few days later, I received another email from Fitbit.  Key points included:

•  Appreciation for speaking my mind (LOL)
•  Fitbit trackers are made to last (What?  A year?), especially the Charge model (which is why it is being replaced by another model)
•  When anomalies such as band peeling occurs, the engineering team is informed so that improvement can be made which is why we have launched new Fitbit models (Apparently, they missed the part where I said my band broke!)
•  They stand behind their product and want to keep me in the Fitbit family
•  After carefully reviewing my case, they will make an "exception" and send replacement 'options' (Isn't this what was offered in chat?) in another email.

True to their word, another email arrived with 'options'.  This time, the options included a 50% discount on a new Fitbit product -or- a replacement Fitbit Charge.  I'm torn between being pleased they upped their offer and irritated that I had to send an email stating my displeasure before they sent the latest offer.

Finally, I gave in and decided to get the replacement. Okay... if a company has access to your history (and yes, they do!), one would THINK they'd look to see what size I've had and check to see if they have THAT size.  I received a third email stating the Charge is being discontinued (I know!) and inventory is limited to size XL in three colors.  I'm not an XL.  ::sigh::  The other alternative is to be relegated to a Fitbit Alta.  Why not just send me the latest Charge 2?

I agreed to the Alta.  Two weeks went by and no confirmation of shipment, so I emailed them.  It does not surprise me that immediately after I contacted them, I received confirmation of shipment.  My guess is they probably hoped I'd disappeared.  I received the Alta in a padded envelope wrapped in bubble wrap. No other packaging, no instruction book.  ::sigh:

While I was going back and forth with Fitbit about the defective Charge,  I did some research regarding how I might fix it (in case Fitbit wasn't going to honor a warranty) and found a YouTube video... Yes, YouTube is my go to for fixing things!  For less than $3, I bought an Alta band and a Charge slipcover on eBay.  I removed the broken band from the Charge and put the other band and slipcover on.  It's not pretty.  It's not water-resistant.  But!  It works.

The silver square was covered with black paint.  In the short time I've had it, it has rubbed off.  Shipped from China -- Can't expect too much.

When the Charge finally stops working, I'll use the Alta.  Meantime, I'm doing research for a different brand of activity band.

Until next time...


Margie said...

I wear a Garmin vivoactive and I adore it. It's been reliable, has quite a bit more capabilities than a fitbit does and is slim on the arm. They go on sale frequently so don't ever pay full price for one.

valerie said...

I am also torn with FitBit. I've gone through a couple of fitbits and they have stopped working around the one year mark. I don't think they are really water resistant. I would shower with them on and then the latest one, I clipped it to my bra so I didn't shower with it on but the sweating probably wasn't great since I worked out with it on. I have a new one that was gifted to me in November. I take it off for showers, etc and am hoping it will pass the one year mark. I'd be curious what tracker you decide to try next...after FitBit.

rosek1870 said...

Please let us know if you find a reliable alternative to your on my second one and just waiting for it to die.

htimcj said...

You are not the first to have problems with fit bit. Everyone who had one at work had it break within a year, lousy service and soon enough replaced it with something else. One went with an Apple Watch and the other went with Garmin. I have a Garmin Viviactive and love it. Mine is the big clunky one ( they came out with a slimmer one about 3 months after I bought mine). It does a lot more than just count your steps but you also pay for those functions.

Vicky R said...

I received a replacement fitbit charge 2 in February and I have just noticed that the band is falling apart.
I am starting to look around for a replacement, but I enjoy challenging my friends on the fitbit app.

Anonymous said...

Wow - read your blog, Meari. What a disappointing experience you have had. You would think a company would stand behind their products better. I call that "Customer No-Service". Hope you have better luck with your new Fitbit.

Nampa, Idaho (for now)

Robin in Virginia said...

Thanks for sharing your experience with your Fitbit. I can't say I am surprised with the runaround that you received with them during your "chat".

Deb said...

Wow, thats really customer NO service..... YouTube is a great place to find solutions. Use them quite a bit, too. Its nice to see a video on things. And multiplt vids at that. So one can choose the best method.

Anonymous said...

That's terrible about your Fitbit, Meari! I have a Charge HR that's a bit over a year old, and it seems to be holding up. It's one that you can't replace the band on unless you follow YouTube videos and "hack" it apart, but I think that's my only complaint so far.

I'm with you on the customer service, too. I have a Roomba that's 7 years old, and I recently noticed that the top was getting warm as it ran. I assumed that meant that the battery was starting to fail, so I contacted Roomba. They said - no, you have to replace both the battery and the robot, not just the battery. Which implies that the motor is actually failing. Which is actually ok since it is so old. So then, because I'm a Valued Customer, they offered me a special price on a new robot. I told them I wanted to check things out online and decide what I wanted to buy. It turns out that my Special Price is for the lowest model they currently have available, and it's the Exact Same Price. that they show online for that particular model. Yay for being special? LOL I decided that the robot still works and I'll just run it when I'm in the house in case the overheating issue gets worse. Maybe I'll put a new robot on my Christmas list. :)


Faith... said...

WOW you have really gone around and around with these people. Not very good customer service especially from such a large company. Glad you got the old one to work temporarily, hope it lasts for a while!! Do you have a warranty with the new one (I hope) or is it still considered a replacement? Maybe it would be better to get one at Best Buy or some place so you can get that extended warranty they offer at the checkout!! My daughter and grandson use FitBits so I will be directing her to your blog so she can see what to expect ;)

Katie Haskins said...

My charge band also got wonky, but they sent me an alta as a replacement. I still ended up with a band that peeled a bit, but as the Alta is made with interchangeable bands I bought 4 3rd party including a leopard. The alta however does not automatically sync with the app.

Anonymous said...

Glad you got your fitbit sorted eventually. We had the same problem with a pump we had installed to increase water pressure a few years ago – the guarantee was from the date of original purchase. Have heard of that several times since on much larger (and more expensive) items.


CJ said...

Just bought a Fitbit Charge 2 for hubby, hope it last for at least a year or two. I bought it through he Military Exchange, so the price was reasonable compared to Amazon or Walmart.


Vickie said...

I have a garmin Vito-smart and love it!! It us waterproof so I can swim in it. I don't blame you for being upset! It shouldn't have to be replaced after a year