back to article Lock up your Peloton smart treadmills, watchdog warns families following one death, numerous injuries

America's Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has urged owners of the hi-tech Peloton Tread+ treadmill to use caution after a child was killed by one of the machines last month. "CPSC is aware of 39 incidents including one death," the US government agency said in a statement on Saturday. "CPSC staff believes the Peloton …

  1. JDPower666

    How about "Don't let your kids play on exercise equipment, it's not a toy!"

    File it just below "don't let them play with knives, bleach or arc welders" in the book of 'not so common sense'

    1. Andrew Hodgkinson

      I think it's more a design issue

      Many treadmills have the rollers and tread on a bed that is pretty close to the ground. It is very hard to get underneath it. The belt is often, though not always hidden underneath behind a cheap plastic bottom cover plate, mitigating a potential "on deep pile carpet" issue if used in the home. See e.g.:

      https://d3fa68hw0m2vcc.cloudfront.net/01e/238032918.jpeg

      ...noting the plastic guard along the rear roller/base (to which a carry handle is attached, but that's incidental) and fairing around the roller edges.

      The Pelotron units look different - the belt is fully exposed on all sides and around the rollers, and they have riser feet that bring the whole assembly some distance off the ground. These feet are *not* positioned at the far corners of the base, but inset and, further, there is no kind of guard bar or any other piece of plastic or other super-cheap stuff to guard the end of the roller. It's fully exposed (and has quite a large diameter).

      https://media.self.com/photos/607dbcbfccaa575c60969918/4:3/w_2560%2Cc_limit/peloton-tread.jpg

      This doubtless looks good in Photoshop and is doubtless cheaper than anything incorporating additional fairing or guards - and I Am Not An Industrial Designer - but I would wager that if Mittens The Cat, Fido The Dog or Mary Your Small Child happen to come running in (someone opens the door and they squeeze in quickly, dog, cat or child can open doors with latch handles, etc.etc.), one's view of the safety of the chosen product might change somewhat as Mittens, Fido or Mary brush inadvertently against that rear roller.

      Some kind of cheap clip-on plastic guard, or even just a tray, that could live under the machine and rose up just enough to guard that rear roller might help, but Pelotron argue that it's all fine & nothing is wrong & everyone who's been injured must be holding it wrong.

      1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

        Re: I think it's more a design issue

        Also consider an off switch under the rear roller.

      2. JDPower666

        Re: I think it's more a design issue

        All very interesting. And irrelevant. Children aren't supposed to be playing with it, or any other exercise equipment. Your solution is the equivalent to removing the blades from knives in case kids play with them. If you're gonna allow your kids to play with something that is inherently dangerous, and comes with warnings against it, the issue is not the equipment, it's the parent.

        1. chuBb. Silver badge

          Re: I think it's more a design issue

          Evertried heading cats or looked at how well prohibition worked in America?

          If this was code this would be like accepting unvalidated data input, then blaming the user for sql injection, because its their fault I didn't paramaterise the dB query and provide some sanitisation of input and it was their fault they typed ';drop table customers because I put a label on the ui saying be careful..

          Nope if a treadmill can kill through use (ignoring heart attacks, if your dumb enough to jog...) and not from toppling then it's got a major design flaw. Any other product would be recalled, but being iot vc funded I expect there is glaring omissions in current consumer protection legislation they can try and absolve responsibility behind.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: I think it's more a design issue

            "Evertried heading cats"

            Quite honestly; no, I haven't. Have you? Did you keep your eyes/ears/nose/tongue? How long was the healing process?

            1. chuBb. Silver badge

              Re: I think it's more a design issue

              Damn you autocorrect!

              The heading isn't the problem, it's getting the angle right so the claws retract and you don't end up ripping your face off by whipping the moggy down with claws embedded...

              1. Arthur the cat Silver badge
                Joke

                Re: I think it's more a design issue

                The heading isn't the problem

                Isn't there some evidence that heading cats causes concussion? Mainly when the vengeful cat ambushes you at the top of the stairs and makes you fall down them.

                1. chuBb. Silver badge

                  Re: I think it's more a design issue

                  Yes i believe there is a direct correlation, same as the proven link between hestitation in feeding and being tripped down the stairs

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: I think it's more a design issue

            5 pedestrians a day are killed in the UK. Ban cars, vans and lorries now.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: I think it's more a design issue

              Cite? According to:

              https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/848485/road-casualties-year-ending-june-2019.pdf

              published by the Dept. for Transport, in the year ending June 2019 (so with no influence from the vastly changed road-usage patterns due to COVID), the total number of road deaths was 1,870. The number of deaths was not broken down by type of road user, but the number of those killed or seriously injured (KSI) was given. Pedestrians represented 14% of the total (chart 3), a drop of 3% from the previous year. It is unclear (to me) whether the separate figure for child pedestrians (3% of total) is included in the above figure, or in addition. For reference, 17% of 1,870 is 318.

              For your figures to be correct, all deaths on the roads between July 2018 and June 2019 would have to be of pedestrians. I don't think that is correct, and that the true figure for pre-COVID times was "less than 1 per day".

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: I think it's more a design issue

                It doesn’t matter what the numbers are, the point I was making was that telling people to stop doing something because one person died is dumb.

        2. Mike 137 Silver badge

          Re: I think it's more a design issue

          I think Flocke Kroes' point was that it doesn't necessarily have to be dangerous in that way. Having a gap under the belt big enough to get dragged under is not an essential characteristic of an exercise treadmill, and the absence of guards is generally considered to be bad practice. As an engineer I entirely agree.

          Removing the blades from knives is quite different, as it directly affects their utility. There are, however, numerous specialist knife types designed to make otherwise hazardous cutting operations safer (e.g. the pallet strapping cutter with its entirely enclosed blade or the hooked lino knife that reduces the possibility of it skidding from the cut towards the operator).

          1. Red Ted Silver badge
            FAIL

            Looks like a 15th century tread mill

            ...and seems to be about as safe as one.

            (Yes, I know, the big LCD screen aside, but that is just a modern version of the carrot on a stick.)

        3. AMBxx Silver badge
          Thumb Down

          Re: I think it's more a design issue

          That's why knives are stored in a drawer well away from children. You don't have to lock the kitchen door to keep your kids safe.

          To say that your exercise gear needs to be kept in a locked room is disingenuous at best.

        4. Claverhouse Silver badge

          Re: I think it's more a design issue

          Children aren't supposed to be playing with it, or any other exercise equipment. Your solution is the equivalent to removing the blades from knives in case kids play with them.

          .

          Weirdly one has to consider the fact children don't always obey commands in these degenerate days; and that one has a duty not to leave anything that can cause injury around for others to handle.

          Had I a gun I would certainly remove all bullets before putting it down.

      3. Fursty Ferret

        Re: I think it's more a design issue

        Missing guards and raised rollers are possibly forgivable in, for example, a gym, but this is worse since it's specifically designed and advertised to go in the home.

      4. hoola Silver badge

        Re: I think it's more a design issue

        One would have thought that in this "safety obsessed" world we live in where so many things are stopped because of some infinitesimally small risk to someone that there would be standards for these things.

        I don't know what the circumstances are around the injuries and tragic death but as ever there are always two sides to every story. This format of machine has been around for years so maybe it is that the design of these is crucially different that is the issue.

        I am surprised that these has not been a recall.

        1. chuBb. Silver badge

          Re: I think it's more a design issue

          Why surprised it would kill the company.

          Everyone is sick of the blanket advertising already, all they have is selling to those who bought in already (frequency of ads makes me think on downward slope of the bell curve) , and a widespread tabloid headlines of "killer workout" etc would put any one who was on fence off, especially when amazon or Netflix (insert streamer of choice) start offering health add in subscriptions and then who would pay over odds for a middle of range tablet and middle of range treadmill with subs on top when a 15quid handlebar tablet mount would do same thing on any bike or treadmill. My point is I reckon peleton have 18months of existance left at best without a major product recall, with one, well I expect the c levels to scarper with as much cash as they can get away with and lots of people stuck paying hire purchase on a bricked service to who ever provides the finance for them.

          End of the day there are only so many "should use more" subscriptions people can afford, and paying less for real gym fees (to not use but doesn't take up any space at home either other than the card in my wallet I use to de-ice windscreen with) at least snags use of sauna or hot tubs and pools too. Post lock down peletons prospects look grim, would not be surprised if renewels come with a real gym membership too anything to make it look like there is some value to be had from them.

      5. Teejay

        Re: I think it's more a design issue

        I totally agree with the analysis. I have not, and will not, look at that video, but for me that machine looks like a serious accident waiting to happen. The motor-powered endless belt seems to run along the underside of the machine without any meaningful mechanical shielding. This is absolute madness. Did no-one who worked on this design think of animals or children? And, no, kitchen knives do not lie on the floor in a living room.

    2. Sprial4597528

      Understandable opinion but not a Safety One

      Understand your point but it's not a good idea. I sometimes wish I could just write in the manual not to be used by idiots when working through safety cases during product design.

      But you expect products you use to be inherently safe and have protection where it is dangerous (bleach bottle tops) or failing that at least clear where the danger is (knives and arc welders) so you can take appropriate action. The issue with the treadmill is its not clear where the danger comes from, I found it horrific watching the video the machine could spin and eat the kid underneath it without some kind of guard and safety detection.

      That exposed belt at the rear is not just a danger to kids but users, could turn a small accident into a big one. If you fall whilst running on it a limb could go under without it switching off.

      Sure kids should be supervised in a gym, sure idiots in teslas shouldn't sit in passengers seats and let the car drive but if your design hasn't thought about mitigating the big failures does not give me much hope they've thought about the marginal ones too.

  2. John Doe 12

    Rebrand?

    Maybe it's time for Peloton to be rebranded as Pelokas :-D

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Devil

      Re: Rebrand?

      Instead of Peloton - why not Pelotunder?

  3. ST Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Ahem ...

    CEO John Foley sent out an email to subscribers on March 18 warning them to keep pets and children away from the internet-connected smart machines [ ... ]

    While I am very happy to learn that Peloton's treadmills are connected to the Internet, keep children and pets away from it and lock it up when not in use does not sound like a functional description of fault-proof safety. At least not to me.

    If your fluffy kitty can commit suicide by accidentally switching the thing on - how is that even possible - I think it's safe to say that there are some product design and safety issues that might need to be addressed.

  4. jake Silver badge

    Never trust a company ...

    ... that calls it's customers "subscribers".

  5. chuBb. Silver badge

    Oh no, Internet of tatt peddler fears profit maybe hurt and people might go outside to trigger massive heart attacks and destroy their hip and knee joints.

    Can't see this ending well for them IKEA got dragged over the coals for not very freestanding drawers toppling and splatting sprogs, inspite of safety warnings and user error being cause (not attaching included tether). This seems to be a basic failing of product design, and lack of realisation that most of the subscription overflow wardrobes don't live in minimalist exercise pods, but crammed into what ever space is available. Nevermind fact exercise equipment and tablets are irresistible fiddle magnets to kids, combine the two and you have no chance of keeping them away from it.

    1. Frank Marsh

      "subscription overflow wardrobes"

      I don't know if you coined this term, but it's brilliant.

  6. IGotOut Silver badge

    Try this highly technical advice.

    Ready.

    Its hard, so get a notepad.

    Wait for it.

    Unplug when not in use.Yup i know, a tough one to master, but give it a go.

  7. JakeMS
    Thumb Down

    Prime Example

    These machines are actually a prime example of exploiting your customers for every penny.

    First, they must pay for these machines - okay that's fine, it costs something to manufacture and produce them too - but then after the transaction is complete, you tell the person "well, you have the machine and all, but if you want to use most of the features you saw in the ad you need this monthly subscription".

    Effectively they are double-charging the customer and continuing to do so. It's crazy in my mind that people would agree to pay for this. It should be one or the other, either pay a rent/subscription fee or pay a large initial sum.

    Not both. Having both is just straight up customer exploitation.

    I mean, let's look at the cost of their treatmill:

    https://www.onepeloton.co.uk/tread

    At the top it says:

    From £2,295 or £59/mo¹ for 39 mos at 0% APR

    All-Access Membership Separate

    So, not only do you have to pay £2,295 for this machine, but on top of that if you want the smart features and membership you need to pay a separate all access membership fee.

    How much is the fee?

    According to them, the all access fee is £39/mo.

    So let's do some math. They're 12 months in a year, so that's an additional £468 per annum you're paying for this machine.

    So your machines price just jumped from £2,295 to £2,763 for your first year. Let's say you want to workout for 5 years. That's £2,340 worth of membership fees.

    So for a 5 year workout plan with this machine you've paid £2,295 for the machine and £2,340 worth of membership fees, totalling £4,635.

    I understand it costs money to produce the classes and such, but they could easily factor this into the cost of the machine itself, if they continued selling enough units with enough profit (and there's tons of profit in exercise equipment) then the cost of producing additional content could easily be covered. Let us not forget the price is already artificially inflated for simply having the smart features.

    A regular treadmill at Argos, for example the "Reebok Jet 300" - will set you back £849 and includes the usual info about how many calories burned, mp3 connectivity, built in speakers etc etc. That's with no monthly subscription fees, so your 5 year workout plan with this machine would cost £849.

    Instead this company are forcing customers to pay an inflated fee for the machine and then topping that off with a monthly fee. Thus they force paying customers to keep paying more.

    So.. yup it's a no from me. I'd rather get a "dumb" treadmill which would do pretty much the same thing minus the classes.

    But ofc, all this is just my personal opinion based on early morning first coffee research.

    1. GlenP Silver badge

      Re: Prime Example

      First, they must pay for these machines - okay that's fine, it costs something to manufacture and produce them too

      I looked at their exercise bikes. I believe the product cost has been hyped considerably before you even pay the subscription. Definitely not for me.

      1. Warm Braw Silver badge

        Re: Prime Example

        Definitely not for me

        If you can get people to cough up around £2K for a bike that goes nowhere and charge them more to use it, you have to admit that's smart peddling.

        1. Danny 14 Silver badge

          Re: Prime Example

          Im sure the treadmills run up a decent profit.

          1. JakeMS
            Trollface

            Re: Prime Example

            It's a great way to gain a profit without breaking a sweat.

    2. ibmalone Silver badge

      Re: Prime Example

      I can sort of understand the model, since the ongoing classes are a service, but they cost more than what my gym membership costs, which gets me access to equipment and some free classes. There is quite a big range in treadmill quality, smallish home ones don't really compare to the heavy duty ones many gyms use, not sure where the tread+ sits in that range. (Though I do remember the council gym back home where the max speed was 16km/h and it would overheat and have to cool down if you went above about 12km/h for a few minutes.)

    3. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Prime Example

      @JakeMS

      Based on the info in your post it is clear that much of the problem is due to the typical Peloton purchaser being a gullible moron.

      The fact that anyone would be willing to pay such hyped up prices for something that is not even well designed and then pay an overpriced subscription, should automatically disqualify them from being allowed near machinery or sharp things.

    4. Martin an gof Silver badge

      Re: Prime Example

      either pay a rent/subscription fee or pay a large initial sum.

      The problem with pay-up-front is that it turns into a huge Ponzi scheme. Unless you charge a huge amount and then somehow "invest" this money and effectively pay the ongoing costs from the interest on the investment, at some point any one individual's use of the system will outspend their initial payment.

      Once that happens you are relying on sales of new product to pay ongoing costs for all existing services.

      Here's a fairly recent example.

      So by offering a buy-plus-subscribe scheme you effectively offer the best of both worlds. The customer feels they have obtained an "asset" and you as a company secure your financial stability well into the future. The one thing that usually remains hidden is what happens when people stop paying subscriptions. Does the product continue to work, but with reduced function (in this case, does it essentially turn into an expensive but fairly standard treadmill) or does it stop working altogether?

      No, I don't think this particular device is value for money in any way, but obviously there are people who do; people who value having an impersonal "personal trainer" who can encourage them to keep going and motivate them in a way a "dumb" bike or treadmill in the corner of the room isn't going to.

      But you would have thought that a device costing three or four times as much as a bog standard dumb treadmill would have put a few cheap safety features in...

      M.

    5. The Pi Man

      Re: Prime Example

      “Forcing”. No one is being forced into anything.

      1. JakeMS
        Devil

        Re: Prime Example

        Technically, no not forced.

        However, you wouldn't buy one of these machines if you wanted a simple "dumb" treadmill which is no different than a much much much less expensive one.

        But, in order to enable the smart features, and use it as it is advertised (personal trainers, fitness tracking etc etc) you need the membership.

        As such, you must pay a subscription based membership if you want to take full advantage of your purchase.

    6. Teejay

      Re: Prime Example

      Well, middle class these days is not primarily defined by intelligence, but by re-routed taxpayer's money. So what's wrong with paying for something twice? The neighbours do it too, after all.

  8. chivo243 Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Peloton just like a Corvair?

    Unsafe at any speed? My dad had two of those back in the 60s.

    Where is the Ralph Nader icon?

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Peloton just like a Corvair?

      Except the Corvair was just as safe as any other comparable car of the era. Nader is an idiot.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Peloton just like a Corvair?

        >Except the Corvair was just as safe as any other comparable car of the era.

        Once it was modified.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Peloton just like a Corvair?

          "Once it was modified."

          Having owned a couple of bone-stock examples (a 1962 and a 1966), I disagree. But don't take my word for it, see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unsafe_at_Any_Speed#Criticisms_of_the_book

          In the March 1963 issue of Mechanix Illustrated, Tom McCahill tried to get a 1963 Corvair to roll, at one point sliding sideways into a street curb, but could not turn the vehicle over.

          The Texas Transportation Institute (TTl) Texas A&M University Research Foundation tested the car extensively and concluded "The 1960-1963 Corvair understeers in the same manner as conventional passenger cars up to about 0.4g lateral acceleration, makes a transition from understeer, through neutral steer, to oversteer in a range from about 0.4g to 0.5g lateral acceleration. This transition does not result in abnormal potential for loss of control. The limited accident data available indicates that the rollover rate of the 1960-1963 Corvair is comparable to other light domestic cars. The 1960-1963 Corvair compared favorably with the other contemporary vehicles used in the NHTSA Input Response Tests. The handling and stability performance of the 1960-1963 Corvair does not result in an abnormal potential for loss of control or rollover and it is at least as good as the performance of some contemporary vehicles both foreign and domestic.”

          Nader, who is not an engineer, nor did he have a driver's license at the time, had absolutely no idea what he was talking about. I personally have taken everything he says, about anything, with a grain of salt ever since. But I have to thank him for his hand in helping to create the skeptic that I am today.

          Don't tell me, show me.

          1. Roland6 Silver badge

            Re: Peloton just like a Corvair?

            My understanding is that it was only the first production run that had the stability issue being referred to.

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: Peloton just like a Corvair?

              The "first production run" were the '60-'63 swing-axle models examined in the study. My '62 was in that group, and as a youngster I threw it around with wild abandon. It was fairly easy to drift, because the window between understeer and oversteer was so wide. Steering with the throttle was easy. The vehicle had no evil handling characteristics to speak of, although it was underpowered. Fun, safe(ish) kid's car with excellent (for the day) fuel economy. Keeping the tires properly inflated was important ... lower in front, higher in the rear.

              If my granddaughter wants one as her first car, I'll be happy to help her find and restore a suitable example.

              Just don't put modern radials on one without some suspension tweaks!

              1. Roland6 Silver badge

                Re: Peloton just like a Corvair?

                >Just don't put modern radials on one without some suspension tweaks!

                I've had problems with a couple of more modern cars (ie. produced post 2000) that didn't like Vredestein tyres - too grippy for the suspension...

  9. wolfetone Silver badge
    Trollface

    Why are these clothes horses plugged in and internet ready anyway?

    1. chuBb. Silver badge

      To allow easier ebaying of unwanted clothes and to reorder smoothy pouches

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How else are they going to pay for all the TV advertising airtime?

    I bought a new TV not long ago, with a lot more than 57 channels, and all that most of them seem to have on is Peloton adverts. Must cost a fortune.

  11. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    There are bigger risks

    The gamification inherent in the business model of Peloton et al. is know to encourage customers to overdo their training regimes, which can easily endanger their health. A good training regime should be close to a person's limit so that the body works harder to increase those same limits.

  12. Cuddles Silver badge

    The winning formula

    "Its winning formula involved sticking a large iPad-like touchscreen to a standard treadmill or exercise bike, and serving from this built-in display exercise videos and group training sessions paid for via a subscription."

    It's worth bearing in mind that this has been standard in gym equipment for quite a while now. Peleton's winning formula wasn't to simply copy what everyone else was already doing, it was to throw a ton of money into marketing aimed at home consumers while doing so.

    1. hoola Silver badge

      Re: The winning formula

      And as far as I can see do it in a period when gyms are closed and their target market has spare cash.

  13. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

    Disruptive

    ="rules don't apply" .... including basic product safety.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    US: full recall announced, for full refund.

    This just in:

    https://www.cnbc.com/2021/05/05/peloton-recalling-all-treadmills-after-reports-of-injuries-one-death.html (and similar elsewhere. Original CPSC/Peloton press release is at

    https://www.cpsc.gov/Newsroom/News-Releases/2021/CPSC-and-Peloton-Announce-Recall-of-Tread-Plus-Treadmills-After-One-Child-Death-and-70-Incidents-Recall-of-Tread-Treadmills-Due-to-Risk-of-Injury )

    From CNBC:

    "Peloton announced Wednesday voluntary recalls of both its treadmill machines over safety concerns.

    The announcement marked a major reversal of Peloton’s initial reaction and comes after weeks of discussions with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

    In a statement, Peloton apologized for not acting more quickly to resolve the issue after reports of one death and dozens of injuries.

    [...]

    Peloton shares tumbled more than 9% on the news.

    The company is advising customers who already have either the Tread or Tread+ products to immediately stop using the equipment and contact Peloton for a full refund or other qualified remedies. It added that it is working on a repair that will be offered to treadmill owners in the coming weeks.

    The recall affects about 125,000 Tread+ machines and roughly 1,050 Tread products in the U.S.

    [continues]"

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021