Fitbit has been sued by disgruntled customers, since it appears that its fitness trackers actually provide faulty heart rate readings.
The representative action lawsuit has been filed on behalf of several Fitbit clients from the states of Wisconsin, California and Colorado.
The offending health monitoring devices, whose precision is now being called into question, are the Fitbit Surge Fitness Super Watch (priced at $250) and the Fitbit Charge HR Wireless Heart Rate and Activity Wristband (costing around $150).
Both of these wearables had been unveiled in 2015, and now users allege that the marketing behind these gadgets is based on false advertising, centered around the unfulfilled motto “every beat counts”.
Right from their launch, the selling point of these fitness trackers has always been the exactness of their heart rate monitors, but now a group of claimants is suggesting that this feature is in fact the gadgets’ Achilles heel.
More exactly, the pulse rate tracked by Charge HR and Surge is allegedly completely inaccurate, heart beats being much more frequent in reality than these devices estimate, especially during strenuous physical activity.
Colorado resident Teresa Black, who is one of the people behind the class action lawsuit, has recounted that she has discovered on numerous occasions that her Charge HR band is grossly unreliable and unsound when it comes to measuring her pulse during her fitness routine.
The device had severely underestimated the frequency of her heart beats, measuring it at 82 instead of 160, which could’ve have had fatal consequences if the sports enthusiast had continued to overexert herself.
However, despite receiving the client’s formal complaint regarding the product’s failings, the tech company based in San Francisco, California has been uncooperative in providing the woman with a refund or another type of compensation.
Similar troubles were also experienced by David Urban from Wisconsin, whose Surge device never showed values surpassing 125 beats per minute, and miscalculated his pulse by around 15 to 25 units.
This was even supported by a cardiologist, who confirmed that the fitness trackers underreport heart rates by around 25 beats per minute, especially when pulse exceeds 110; in some cases readings are actually wrong by up to 75 beats per minute.
Now the plaintiffs are hoping that the final verdict of the just-launched trial will be in their favor, and that they will be granted injunctive relief, through which Fitbit will be forced to discontinue its misleading marketing practices, or even stop commercializing the two faulty products altogether.
The claimants are also seeking monetary damages, because they believe they were coaxed into purchasing these malfunctioning fitness trackers, and therefore the money they lost should be promptly returned.
Meanwhile, Fitbit representatives have rejected the accusations, stating that the technology behind the wearables’ heart monitoring feature, known as Pure Pulse, is in fact much more advanced that the one commonly incorporated into stationary bikes, elliptical machines, steppers, treadmills and other cardiovascular equipment found at the gym.
At the same time, as officials say, it is essential to keep in mind that the gadgets were designed strictly for fitness purposes, and aren’t supposed to meet the stringent standards imposed on actual medical devices intended to monitor heart rate.
This is actually not the first controversy affecting Fitbit in recent years: back in February 2014 the company was forced to recall its Fitbit Force trackers after several customers complained that the bracelet’s fabric had caused them blisters and irritations.
A month afterwards, a lawsuit was filed by a group of buyers seeking compensation following medical issues triggered by the rash-inducing bracelet.
The manufacturer eventually replaced the Fitbit Force devices with Fitbit Charge, and promised that this tracker was much safer and more hypoallergenic than its predecessor.
More recently, other problems have blighted the previously flourishing company. Its newest gadget, known as Fitbit Blaze, failed to benefit from a warm reception when it was previewed at CES 2016, mostly because it’s seen as an unworthy competitor for the Apple Watch.
For instance, Blaze only runs applications made available by Fitbit, whereas Apple Watch supports a much wider array of software.
On the other hand, Blaze does have the advantage that it can be paired with gadgets running various operating systems, while Apple’s smartwatch can only be synced with an iPhone.
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