Fitbits anything but, says Consumer NZ

Consumer NZ scrutinises reliability of electronic devices

Consumer NZ’s survey of consumer electronic devices has found a quarter of Fitbit fitness trackers bought in the past three years needing repair or replacement.

“Of almost 800 Fitbits purchased by Consumer NZ members, 16 percent had faulty construction and a further 10 percent had battery, charging or connection problems,” Consumer NZ said.

Consumer NZ head of testing Dr Paul Smith said the Fitbit result was disappointing. “Fitbits generally do well in our fitness tracker testing and we’d expect more from such a well-known brand. But the reliability of these products means we’ll no longer be recommending them.”

Smith said only half of Fitbit owners were ”very satisfied” with the product and just 40 percent were ”very likely” to repurchase the brand.

Fitbit told Computerworld that the company took customer satisfaction and the findings of the Consumer NZ report very seriously.

“The quality of Fitbit products is a top priority for our customers. We conduct extensive testing and consult with top industry experts to develop stringent standards so that users can reliably wear and enjoy our products,” the company said.

“We are committed to delivering a superior customer experience. We respond quickly when customers report issues and strive to work closely with them through our customer service channels to ensure their satisfaction. If consumers have any questions or concerns, they can contact us at help.fitbit.com.”

Consumer NZ said the Fitbit results were in sharp contrast to those for other wearable devices. “Apple smart watches led for reliability with just three percent needing repair and four in five owners ‘very satisfied’ with the product,” it said.

It added: “The next most popular fitness tracker brand in the survey, Garmin, also scored higher than average reliability,” but waited to specify exactly what constituted “average reliability”.

Almost 7000 Consumer NZ members participated in the survey, reporting on more than 15,000 products, including almost 8000 TVs and mobile phones.

The big four TV brands — LG, Panasonic, Samsung and Sony — all scored at least 94 percent reliability with 81 to 83 percent of owners “very satisfied”. The Warehouse brand Veon was not far behind, rating average for reliability. While owner satisfaction was lower, Veon was the top TV brand for value for money.

Smith said: “Veon TVs in the survey were more likely to be smaller HD sets. In general, we found owners of larger UHD TVs were more likely to be ‘very satisfied’ with their telly.”

Four in every five phones purchased by users surveyed came from Apple or Samsung. “This popularity looks set to continue – they also scored the highest ratings for loyalty: 84 percent of Apple owners and 81 percent of Samsung owners were ‘very likely’ to buy the brand again,” Consumer NZ said.

Consumer NZ members reported new purchases made since 1 January 2013 of TVs, sound bars, home theatre systems, mobile phones, tablets, wireless speakers, headphones and wearable devices. They were asked for the brand, the year it was bought and whether it had ever needed repair. They were also asked to rate their satisfaction with the product, whether they thought it offered value for money and if they would buy it again.

Only brands that got more than 30 responses in a category were analysed. For each brand, the reliability score was calculated as the percentage of products that had not needed repair. Satisfaction was rated on a 0 to 10 scale, where a score of 8, 9 or 10 reflected “very satisfied”, “excellent value” or “very likely to repurchase”.

Updated with comments from Fitbit.

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