NordicTrack Exercise Equipment - Just say NO!!!
by Brad Juhasz
For all those who might be considering some home exercise equipment I thought I might share my experience. If it helps even one person avoid buying a bad product (in my case a NordicTrack eliptical) from a company I'm not very happy with (ICON Fitness), it will be worth the time for me to write this all down.
So here's the story:
Last fall, my wife & I decided that we were going to invest in some exercise equipment for the house. We weren't making it to the gym enough to justify our memberships and the thought was that if we had some equipment at home, we would use it. So we looked around at the brands we knew from the gym (Precor and another premium brand) and found out that those products were really expensive.
Now we knew we didn't want one of the ultra cheap ones because neither of us believed that they would last, so instead we decided that we would go for a nice high end model from our local sporting goods store.
Ultimately, we tried out a few and opted for the NordicTrack 990 AudioStrider. It had the functionality that we wanted, had a variety of programs, and was in our price range of $1,000 - $1,250. We thought we were thinking ahead when we even spent the extra $125 on a 3 year extended warranty.
So we got home with the machine and I set it up in our exercise room, and needless to say we were pretty excited and started to use it immediately. Over the next few weeks, both my wife and I worked up to using it at least 5 days a week for about 30 minutes a session. Over the course of those first weeks we started to hear a few clacks, squeaks and mild scraping noises which we didn't pay too much attention to - they didn't seem to affect the operation.
However, about the same time we started to notice that the front ramp wasn't working like it was supposed to. While the ramp would go up and down as commanded, when ever it was in the 'up' position, the ramp would slowly lower of its own accord over the course of the next 2-3 minutes until it was in the lowest possible position. We could reset it back to its top position with the controls, but it would always slowly slip back down to the lowest incline.
This was a nuisance that we put up with because we were both busy during the days with work and didn't have the time to be at home to meet a repairman.
Round about 3 months in, the vibrations started to get really bad and so I broke down and called NordicTrack customer support. During that first conversation I told the (very nice) woman about the issue with the excessive vibrations and the incline ramp and she said, "Oh that sounds like a bearing problem."
I didn't know anything about the engineering of the machine so I assumed that this was the problem. The customer service representative then said that she would send out the appropriate parts and when they arrived that I should contact their local customer support partner to schedule a repair. I should have seen the alarms going off at this point: NordicTrack had asked me to diagnose the problem with my own machine even though I knew nothing about it except how to use it!
When the parts arrived - 2 weeks later (!!!) - all that I received was a small plastic bag with axle grease, so I called customer service back and they said that the bearing was back-ordered and would be shipped within a few days. When I asked the customer service rep "What if that's not really the problem? My machine has already been out of commission for 3 weeks?" she responded that the parts were on the way and that we would be back up and running soon.
Another week later the parts arrived and another week later the service man finally came to fix the machine. What he found within 5 minutes was that the bearing was not the problem at all - it was the wheels that run up and down in the incline ramp which were completely disintegrated.
Literally the little plastic wheels had come off of their plastic hub. Of course, the repairman didn't have these parts with him, so he had to go back and order them and schedule a new time to repair the unit. This he did and another 2 weeks later we finally had the machine repaired.
All told, we had now owned the machine for about 4.5 months and fully 1/3 of that time it had been collecting dust and acting as a 200 lbs coat hanger.
About a month later, there were more clacking noises so thinking that I would get ahead of the game and call while the machine was still actually working I called to complain about the noise and reiterate that the incline ramp was still not working. Two weeks later some more parts arrived and I called out the service man to fix the machine.
This time, the service man took apart the incline ramp and discovered that the bottom frame of the machine (1/8" think steel) had a giant crack in it and was unrepairable. Needless to say we were very angry because now we had something that we couldn't use at all.
I waited a few days before calling customer support to allow the service tech to file all his paperwork. When I called they immediately started to give me the run around. I finally told them that I just wanted a refund and I'd be done with the whole experience.
I was told that they only provided replacements and not refunds on used equipment. When I pushed them on this, talking to various groups from customer support, billing, returns, management, etc, I got the same old answer: "we'll send you a new one." Of course, they didn't tell me that they were currently out of stock and wouldn't ship for a few weeks - I had to find that out when I called them back for the 3rd time to ask about removal of the broken machine and installation of the replacement.
When I asked about this last topic, they told me that I could "throw away the broken machine" but that I was going to have to "assemble the new one on my own because I didn't pay for the original one to be assembled." When I asked them where I was supposed to dispose of a 200 lb machine that is 6 feet long and not particularly mobile, their answer was: "Just put it out by the curb with a 'Free' sign on it." At this point I just about went ballistic but managed to maintain my cool.
And one more funny note to all this: I asked about the warranty on the new machine and they said that the warranty of the new machine is effective from the date of purchase of the original (broken) machine. Since the broken machine was bought nearly 8 months ago now, the new machine (whenever it eventually arrives) will only have maybe 3 months of warranty left on it!
And this was after the first machine was out of commission for nearly 4 of the 8 months of which we have owned it.
So that brings us up to today. I am now waiting for my new machine to be delivered and while I wait I have a 200 lb coat hanger in my exercise room. I will soon have a machine which the manufacturer will not even warranty and which I know will break down about every 2 months.
If I can say one thing about this whole experience it is this: please learn from my mistake and use extreme caution when thinking about buying exercise equipment like this.
The NordicTrack from ICON fitness that was sold to me is garbage, they don't support their customers and their customer service representatives and processes are purposefully designed to frustrate their customers and get them to the date when their product warranties expire.