Peloton has had an interesting solution to its treadmill safety issues, which have been linked to the death of a child: Force owners of their Tread + $ 4,295 or to return the car for a refund or pay a monthly fee of $ 39 to adopt. Users are outraged, and some have even compared Peloton’s demand to ransomware.
It is a reminder that when you buy or use a product that access is controlled by another, that access can always be taken away from you. As more and more of the things we buy are connected to the Internet, live and die from software updates pushed by the manufacturer and on platforms that can be locked at any time, we have less and less control over them. Even if we pay a considerable amount of money for these devices, we can never get full ownership.
In this case, Peloton says the change was made for security reasons, and that forcing customers to become members was the only way to implement the update. Platoon recalled the May Tread +, after the death of a child which was pulled under a treadmill; reports of injuries to many other children, pets and adults; and a public sputum with the Commission for the Safety of Consumer Products (CPSC). The company stopped selling the Tread + and ordered Tread + owners to “immediately stop” using them and offer full refunds for devices returned before November. But Peloton didn’t completely discourage people from using the machine. In fact, he even offered to send the movers into the owners ’home to transfer their Tread + units to a space that children and pets could not access, free of charge.
Now, some Tread + owners will face an additional monthly charge than they had before. Platoon little informed they will soon no longer be able to use their machines, unless they also purchase an All-Access subscription for $ 39 a month. Peloton offers three months of free All-Access to make up for the inconvenience.
Peloton told Recode that the move was necessary to add a security feature called “Tread Lock” to the machines.
“In our ongoing work to ensure that our products are even more secure and as part of our voluntary relocation in collaboration with CPSC, we have released Tread Lock, a four-digit passcode to secure Tread + against unauthorized access. authorized, ”Peloton told Recode. “Unfortunately, due to current technical limitations, Tread Lock is not even available without a Platoon Member.”
Peloton told Recode that he is working to make Tread Lock available for free but would not say how long it would take to implement the change. If it takes less than three months, then Tread + users without membership (Peloton wouldn’t tell Recode how many of its users fall into this category) won’t end up paying anything more. They may even decide that they like the service so much that they will continue to use it, which is good for Peloton. If it takes more than the free period or doesn’t happen at all, then Tread + owners will have to decide if they want to keep the device and spend $ 39 a month or return it. If you’re a Tread + owner who doesn’t have children or pets and could argue that this safety measure (and expense) isn’t necessary, well, it’s too bad.
It should be noted that Tread + already comes with a security key which Peloton recommends users to remove and keep away from children when the machine is not in use. It is also worth noting, as the CPSC has, that not all of those injuries happened because a child turned on the car when no one was there. Some happened while a parent was using the machine, and all the security keys and Tread Locks in the world hadn’t stopped him.
While Peloton apparently has the ability to own their cars entirely, which would force owners to return them, it goes hand in hand with this compromise that is in Peloton’s favor. It is also part of their business model. The machine itself is a one-time purchase while subscriptions are a continuous source of revenue and what distinguishes Peloton from traditional machines. It’s not just exercise; it is Exercise as a Service. So Peloton wants as many of its customers as possible. A very cynical take on the situation would say that this is a way to do that.
The change only seems to affect Tread + machines and not the smaller and more economical Tread model, which is the subject to a separate recall due to reports of injuries from its touchscreen loosening and even falling.
While the specifics of this situation are unusual, the idea that you are not familiar with the things you buy today is not. Apple has made its devices more and more more difficult for anyone but Apple to access and repair – which also gives Apple the ability to set its own prices for that service – and John Deere similarly maintain tight control above the software that manages their machines. You technically does not possess music, videos, or books that you “buy” from Apple Music or Amazon Prime, and can be taken from you. Pebble smartwatches became mute when Fitbit acquired the company and shut down the platform (although there were fan-led efforts). keep the pebbles). And we’ve seen a bunch of conservative politicians and pundits complain that changes in social media service terms have made them shy away from platforms for speeches or actions that were acceptable.
Peloton has had immense success, in large part because of its “connected fitness” model that makes customers continue to pay each month to receive the full benefit of their machines. It also gives Peloton more continuous control over those machines than a traditional, unconnected treadmill or exercise bike company would ever have. And that control can be exercised however Peloton – or any other hardware manufacturer in the software and services companies – wants it to be.