Not fit for purpose: Fitbit fined $11m for false claims

Tech giant Fitbit will have to pay an $11 million fine in Australia after misleading consumers about smartwatches and fitness trackers that were not fit for purpose. 

The Federal Court issued the penalty against the US firm on Tuesday after it admitted making false, misleading or deceptive claims to 58 customers between 2020 and 2022. 

In several cases, Fitbit representatives claimed customers only had 45 days in which to return a faulty device. 

The case is the second brought against Fitbit by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) after it raised concerns about warranties offered by the company in 2018.

The ACCC launched its latest case against the billion-dollar firm, now owned by Google, in October last year, saying it had misled customers about their rights under Australian Consumer Law. 

Acting ACCC chairwoman Catriona Lowe said all goods sold in Australia must be of acceptable quality and fit for purpose and retailers had to provide a repair, replacement or refund if this standard was not met.

"We took this action as a reminder to Fitbit and other businesses that they must honour their customers' consumer guarantee rights without restrictions and not mislead consumers about these rights," she said. 

"Consumers may have incurred additional expense and inconvenience paying for repairs or replacement products because they were told false and misleading information."

As part of the case, Fitbit admitted its staff told 18 customers they could not receive a refund unless they returned a faulty product within 45 days of its purchase. 

Another customer seeking a refund was told they could not receive one as they had not purchased the product directly from Fitbit's website. 

Fitbit staff also denied refunds to another 40 customers due to the expiry of a two-year warranty, even though 39 had contacted the company about problems with replacement products. 

Ms Lowe said she hoped the case served as an example for businesses and consumers.

"We are pleased Fitbit admitted its misconduct, especially since this is the second time we have had to respond to a company in the Fitbit Group with concerns about representations involving consumer guarantee rights," she said. 

In 2018, Fitbit agreed to extend warranties given to Australian consumers after it originally offered only one-year warranties on its products and as little as 30 days for the replacement of faulty products. 

Fitbit now offers a two-year manufacturer's warranty on its products in line with Australian law.

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