On Wed., May 5, 2021, Peloton® announced a voluntary recall of its treadmills — just two-and-a-half weeks after the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a warning for Tread+™ owners to stop using the machine due to a number of reported injuries and one child’s death.
Peloton®’s recall also came with an admission from CEO John Foley that the company could have and should have acted more quickly. Foley stated:
“I want to be clear, Peloton® made a mistake in our initial response to the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s request that we recall the Tread+™. We should have engaged more productively with them from the outset. For that, I apologize.”
The voluntary recall includes two Peloton® models:
Peloton®’s decision to recall its treadmills is a sharp reversal from its stance a little over two weeks ago, when the CPSC issued its “urgent” warning on April 17.
In response to the CPSC’s warning, Peloton® said there was no reason for users to stop using their machine. Instead, the company called the Commission’s warning “inaccurate and misleading.”
CPSC: At Least 72 Accident Reports and 1 Child’s Death
Peloton®’s workout-from-home cycle and treadmill machines gained widespread popularity over the course of 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic kept many traditional gym-goers at home. The company’s treadmills are equipped with 32-inch touch screens that allow users to attend online, virtual workout sessions with Peloton® instructors from around the world.
Despite its popularity and early success — the company is valued at $40 Billion — Peloton® has had its fair share of alleged issues. Some users of the treadmill have reported the monitor breaking loose from the machine.
Experts have also questioned the design of the treadmill, which CPSC says is built with “an unusual belt design that uses individual rigid rubberized slats or treads that are interlocked and ride on a rail.” In addition, compared to competitor treadmills, Peloton’s Tread+™ has a larger gap between the floor and the belt of the machine, which could make it easier for children and objects to slide under it.
According to a report by the New York Times, CPSC has received at least 72 reports of children, adults, pets, and objects being pulled underneath the rear rollers of the treadmill. Of these 72 events, 29 of them involved children. One child, who was 6-years-old, has died from such an incident.
In its April 17 warning, the CPSC staff identified what it believes to be serious and urgent threats to the safety of children, noting that the Peloton® Tread+™ poses “risks to children for abrasions, fractures, and death.” Multiple consumer reports have detailed scenarios where children had become entrapped, pinned, and pulled beneath the rear roller of the treadmill.
A video issued by the CPSC shows one such incident where a child gets pulled under the Peloton® treadmill while retrieving a ball that got stuck beneath the rear of the machine. The video, which has since gone viral, garnered more than 1.28 million views on YouTube.
Unsafe Products and Corporate Responsibility
As part of its recall, Peloton® is offering owners of its treadmills a full refund for the product, which retails at $4,295. The company is also working on repairs to the Tread™ and Tread+™ machines, which include software updates that would automatically lock the machine after use and require a 4-digit passcode for it to be unlocked.
It remains to be seen when such improvements will be rolled out to consumers. In the meantime, it seems the company’s decision to recall the treadmills — while late — was indeed the correct decision.
In his Wednesday statement, Peloton® CEO John Foley reiterated, “The decision to recall both products was the right thing to do for Peloton®’s members and their families.”