There have been several products introduced on the market recently that in some way serve to track activity, calories burned, and help create a sort of virtual fitness assistant – helping you keep track of what you do, how intensely you work while doing it, and how often such activity occurs.
As a show of support and wanting to make my life a bit more organized, my partner bought me one of these aforementioned products as a gift last Christmas. I was the excited recipient of a Fitbit Ultra. The Fitbit Ultra, in theory, would make the logging and activity tracking part of my life a bit easier, plus it brought with it a couple of added extra features that I thought of as perks.
Here is a summary what I thought I was getting:
- A slim, compact device that would easily clip onto my clothing to track:
- My daily total steps taken, mileage traveled, elevation climbed, and calories burned
- The ability to track all of the above data for specific activities and sets of time, by starting a special ‘activity’ function (i.e. you start the function and until you tell it to stop, it will track data specific to that activity, which will then be added into your overall daily info as a distinct, focused activity – such as running)
- Access to the interactive website that the device syncs with which would:
- Allow me to log my food intake each day and track nutritional data
- Allow me to log activities that wouldn’t be accurately measured by my step tracker (i.e. circuit training, yoga, strength training, etc)
- Allow me to record and chart out fitness goals
- Additional features such as:
- A USB base for the Fitbit which serves as a charging station and place to re-set the device if needed
- Automatic syncing between my Fitbit and my computer to upload data onto the website
- A function that would track my sleep cycle and quality
- Access to the online food database to help with logging meals
- Technical support via online forums and contact info to the company if problems should arise
Here is a summary of what I actually got:
- A few weeks of excitement over a useful new device, followed by frustration and disappointment when it broke
- Repeat above.
- Repeat again.
Let’s discuss this unfortunate product further, shall we?
The first device that I received originally as a gift worked great – for about 6 weeks. For that short time, I had no problems with it. I used it daily, charged it every few days when the battery signal was starting to get low, and all was well. Then one day, without warning, the screen stopped working. You see there is a button on the device that you can push to get a quick snapshot of your daily data. One day the screen was just black. Then, curiously, the ‘activity mode’ kept starting and stopping on its own. So when I looked at my data online, it showed that I had logged activities for a few seconds or minutes at a time, multiple times a day. Clearly, something was wrong.
My Fitbit had gone mad.
I perused the technical support information provided by the company online and found instructions that indicated I should re-set my device. I followed the instructions precisely, and . . . . it stopped working entirely! Nothing. It was dead. Since it was only 6 weeks in, my partner and I decided to take it back to the store where it was purchased and request a new product. They complied.
Now, I know that sometimes things just go wrong. Random products can be faulty and it doesn’t necessarily speak to the line of products as a whole. So, I was feeling ok when the store replaced the item and I was once again good to go with my Fitbit.
Things were back to normal – track, log, sync, charge, et cetera.
For about 7 or 8 weeks.
The same symptoms showed up again. The screen went black, the activity mode function started freaking out. The Fitbit was in chaos. I contacted customer service (via email, as that is their only tech support option). They stated I needed to re-set the advice.
I tried re-setting the device – with their specific instructions. It died.
This time, the customer service department themselves offered to replace the device. I kindly thanked them for doing so, while also saying that having two products malfunction and break in the same way was extremely frustrating and I really only wanted another replacement if they could stand by the quality of what they would send.
The customer service representative did not respond directly to the content of what I said, other than to notify me that the replacement was in the mail.
Enter the THIRD Fitbit device. Needless to say, the story is the same for number 3. Track, log, charge, sync . . . . die.
This last model broke this past Sunday. I emailed the company on Monday to report my story, to tell them that I do not want a replacement, that I am extremely disappointed with the product, and would graciously accept a refund.
They have not yet even bothered to respond.
So, my fitness friends, I don’t enjoy trashing a product or company, but I think this tale speaks for itself. If you are considering purchasing such a device – I strongly recommend looking into other brands and options. The Fitbit is most definitely not recommended by this consumer.