Sun | Jun 13, 2021

Peloton recalls treadmills, halts sales after child dies

Published:Thursday | May 6, 2021 | 12:13 AM

Peloton is recalling about 125,000 of its treadmills, less than a month after denying they were dangerous and saying it would not pull them from the market, even though they were linked to the death of a child and injuries of 29 others.

The company said Wednesday that it will now offer full refunds for the Peloton Tread+ treadmills, which cost more than US$4,200. It will also stop selling them.

The recall comes after the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission warned on April 17 that people with children and pets should immediately stop using the Tread+ treadmill after a child was pulled under it and died.

At the time, Peloton pushed back against the safety commission, saying the warning was “inaccurate and misleading”, and that there was no reason to stop using the machines. CEO John Foley also said he had “no intention” of recalling the treadmills.

In a statement Wednesday, Foley apologised and said the company “made a mistake” in its initial response to the safety commission.

Shares of New York-based Peloton Interactive Inc sunk nearly 14 per cent to US$83.39 after the recall was announced Wednesday, its second biggest percentage decline.

Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut who is chair of the consumer safety committee, said the recall was dangerously delayed.

“Peloton unacceptably put consumers at risk,” Blumenthal said in a statement, adding that he would work to strengthen the safety commission so that “companies like Peloton no longer get to call the shots on consumer safety”.

Under current laws, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has to negotiate with companies in order to release warnings about a product’s hazards.

Peloton is best known for its stationary bikes, but it introduced treadmills about three years ago. Sales of Peloton equipment have soared during the pandemic as virus-wary people avoid gyms and workout at home. In the last three months of 2020, the company brought in US$1 billion in revenue, more than double what it made the year before.

In all, Peloton said it received 72 reports of adults, kids, pets or other items, such as exercise balls, being pulled under the rear of the treadmill. Of those reports, 29 were of children who suffered injuries, including broken bones and cuts. One child, who was six years old, died.

Joseph Martyak, a spokesman at the Consumer Product Safety Commission, said the agency is still testing the treadmills, but it appears the design of the Peloton Tread+, including its belt and its height off the floor, could make it more likely to pull people, pets and items under the machine than other brands of treadmills.

Those who own the Tread+ treadmill have until November 6, 2022, to get a full refund from Peloton. The safety commission still recommends that people stop using the treadmill, but for those that want to keep it, Peloton said it will move it free of charge to a room where children or pets cannot access it and update the software so a passcode is required to unlock it.

AP