As the holiday season has passed and the New Year has begun, one of the most popular gifts given to encourage fitness and health is coming under fire. Fitbits have gained a lot of attention and notoriety in the past few months as a way to monitor one’s heart rate during workouts, but according to some customers, the heart rate monitor gives inaccurate readings.
Kate McLellan is one of three plaintiffs in California who have filed a class action lawsuit against Fitbit. McLellan alleges the heart rate her Fitbit was telling her was significantly lower then what it really was, thus making the reading inaccurate. McLellan compared the Fitbit heart rate monitor to those at her gym, which she says helped prove her theory true. In McLellan’s lawsuit she alleges the Fitbit monitors not only don’t work, but the company’s ads stating, “every beat counts” are misleading.
The class action lawsuit may or may not stand as Fitbit customers, including the plaintiffs, agreed to arbitration clauses taking away their right to file a lawsuit in court as well as taking away their right to bring or join in any class action lawsuits against Fitbit. The plaintiffs’ lawyers, however, argue the customers were treated unfairly by Fitbit regarding these contracts. After purchasing a Fitbit you must register it online on their website before the product can be used. According to the lawsuit, the watch feature of the device cannot even be used until the product is registered on Fitbit’s website. There, customers were forced to agree to these terms before even using the product. The registration process included an agreement, likely called an arbitration agreement, preventing consumers from taking legal action against Fitbit. Because the acceptance of these contracts terms were required to register and use the Fitbit, they were forced upon consumers and would likely be found unenforceable by the court. Unfortunately, in most contracts, whether on paper or clicked through online, these terms are agreed to by consumers who, like most lay people, do not understand the terms and are forced by companies to agree to them.
Fitbit is standing behind their product and heart rate technology disagreeing with the statements made against their company. They have replied to the complaints by saying that Fitbit trackers are designed for data uses to help users reach their fitness goals and not for scientific or medical purposes. Fitbit claims that its agreement has been previously upheld in a California court and that customers even have 30 days to opt out of the arbitration agreement. The judge will have to determine whether the agreement between Fitbit and its customers was forced and/or is unconscionable.
If you have been affected by any of these issues or other products please contact the Poppe Law Firm at (502) 895-3400.