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Is Peloton safe? Company recall treadmills after child dies

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A Peloton treadmill (Getty Images)
A Peloton treadmill (Getty Images)

Cult fitness brand Peloton has issued separate recalls for both its treadmills, the Tread and Tread Plus, after the machines were involved in the death of a six-year-old child and numerous complaints.

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) had previously warned consumers about the Tread Plus treadmill in April following the death of a child who was pulled under the rear of the machine in March, and called on the company to recall the product.

But Peloton pushed back against the recall suggestions, calling the CPSC’s reports “inaccurate” and “misleading”.

Peloton’s CEO John Foley said the death was a “terrible tragedy”, but told customers to keep children and pets away from the machines and insisted they were safe to use as long as safety measures were followed.

However, in the recall announcement on Wednesday, Mr Foley admitted the company had “made a mistake” in its initial response to the CPSC’s report and apologised to consumers.

What was wrong with the Tread Plus?

The CPSC said that in addition to the death, Peloton received “72 reports of adult users, children, pets and/or objects being pulled under the rear of the treadmill, including 29 reports of injuries to children such as second- and third-degree abrasions, broken bones, and laceration”.

The regulator said Peloton’s treadmills feature “an unusual belt design that uses individual rigid rubberised slats or treads that are interlocked and ride on a rail” instead of a thin, continuous belt similar to other treadmill models.

The Tread Plus also has a large gap between the floor and the belt, which means there is room for people, pets and objects to get sucked underneath the machine.

Customers are advised to stop using the $4,300 (approximately £3,100) machines immediately and to return them for a full refund by 6 November 2021.

Peloton said it is working to “develop additional modifications to the recalled Tread Plus that will address the hazard of adult users, children and pets being pulled below the Treadmill and suffering serious injury or death”.

“These modifications will be incorporated and presented to CPSC and if approved, will be introduced into the product before Peloton resumes sales,” it added.

“We do not have any additional information about the modifications or any proposed timeline right now.”

What about the Tread?

The Tread is the smaller, cheaper model of the Tread Plus and sells for about $2,495 (approximately £1,800).

According to the CPSC, the equipment is being recalled due to reports of the touchscreen detaching and falling. Of the 18 reports made, some have resulted in minor injuries such as abrasions, minor cuts and bruises in Canada and the UK.

Peloton said it is developing a repair which will be available soon.

In the meantime, UK customers can return the Tread for a full return or wait for a full repair, which will be free of charge. Peloton warns customers not to use the Tread until it has been repaired.

What can I do if I don’t want to return my Tread Plus?

As the Tread Plus is only available in the US, the recall for this model only applies to US customers. Customers who don’t want to return their Tread Plus for a refund can have their machine moved by Peloton free of charge into a room where children or pets cannot access the treadmill.

Peloton is also rolling out software improvements to the product that will automatically lock it after each use and prevent unauthorised access by assigning a four-digit passcode that will be required to unlock the Tread Plus.

Richard Blumenthal, chair of the US government’s subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Data Security, told CNBC: “This recall is the right step, though dangerously delayed.

“Peloton unacceptably put consumers at risk, obstructed the CPSC’s investigation and its consumer warnings.”

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