LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A Southern California woman who is part of a class-action against Fitbit Inc. is sharing her concern over the fitness tracker she alleges failed to accurately measure her heart rate.
“Don’t tell people that every beat counts because it’s not counting every beat,” said fitness enthusiast Kate McLellan from Murrieta.
She spent $150 on a Fitbit Charge HR, a model that costs $50 more than other Fitbit devices, but includes an additional feature to monitor the user’s heart rate.
“The important thing with calculating calories is to know what your heart rate is because that’s a big component and if your heart rate is off, then your calories are off and that can really make or break you if you’re being very specific about your fitness goals,” she said.
And she is.
That’s why she noticed something was off with her Fitbit’s results.
“So, I was doing cardio one day and I was looking at my Fitbit and it said my heart rate was 125, which was kind of low for how hard I was working,” she said. “And so I grabbed the heart rate sensors, the handles on the stair machine, and it said my heart rate was 165, which there is a huge difference between 125 and 165.”
McLellan says she put the device to the test several times before contacting Fitbit’s customer service but says that she was denied a refund.
“They tried to put the blame on me, that I didn’t know how to wear it, and then, ‘Well, it’s not our fault. It’s not meant to be accurate,’ ” she said. “Then what’s it meant to do?”
More importantly, she wants to know, what if she had relied on the heart monitor for a health condition?
“Had I had a heart problem or a history of an aneurysm or a stroke or something like that, that would be very, very dangerous,” she said.
Since McLellan first came forward, so have others around the country.
Today, they are plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit alleging the Fitbit HR and Fitbit Surge fail to accurately measure user heart rates.
“They claim that they can make every beat count, but of course, it doesn’t count every beat,” said Attorney Kevin Budner. “And when you say a product will do something that it doesn’t do, that’s classic fraud.”
Dissatisfied Fitbit customers are also learning they signed their legal rights away when they originally registered their Fitbit device online, a necessary step to initiate the Fitbit tracking system.
“I just wanted to get my device to sync to my phone and I just wanted to be able to start using it as quickly as possible so you just kinda, click click click, ‘Done. Thank you very much and Here’s your activation code,’ ” she said.
Fitbit told CBS2 News in a statement:
“Fitbit is committed to making the best clip and wrist-based activity trackers on the market. Our team performs a rigorous set of internal studies to test our products. Fitbit trackers are designed to provide meaningful data to our users to help them reach their health and fitness goals, and are not intended to be scientific or medical devices. Overall, the success of Fitbit products comes from empowering people to see their overall health and fitness trends over time — it’s these trends that matter most in achieving their goals.”
Fitbit goes on to say:
“While the Consumer Reports analysis of our heart rate tracking technology was conducted independently of Fitbit, we’re happy to see that Consumer Reports gives an ‘excellent’ rating to Fitbit Charge HR and Fitbit Surge with PurePulse heart rate tracking.
“Also, please find a link to Fitbit’s warranty and return policy.
“Finally, while these are not medical devices, I’d also like to offer a few very real examples of just how powerful the trend data from our devices can be:
“An 18 year old UK woman was studying for her exams at her university residence when her tracker revealed that her resting heart rate had increased from 84 bpm to 210 bpm. She was rushed into hospital, where tests revealed she had an undetected heart condition involving a ‘misfiring chamber.’ Medics said if the Southport teen hadn’t called for help, she could have died.
“We saw a similar story that made national news in Australia, where a gentleman noticed the readings on his Fitbit showed his heart lurching between 47 beats per minute and a staggering 218 beats per minute. He was rushed to the hospital where he was diagnosed with a life-threatening arrhythmia.
“Lastly, you may have seen the Reddit story a couple weeks ago about the couple who happily learned they were expecting because the woman’s Fitbit detected an elevated resting heart rate.”
As for McLellan, she no longer relies on her Fitbit HR and says the only thing it’s measuring is the darkness inside the kitchen drawer.
“It doesn’t track your heart rate, so don’t tell people that it tracks your heart rate,” she said.
For more information on the class-action lawsuit, click here.