Peloton has fallen under scrutiny from both consumers and regulators following accident claims and warnings of the brand’s treadmill product by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Crisis experts say the fitness company’s response of publicly refuting the warning could be damaging to the brand.
Over the weekend, the CPSC issued a warning to consumers about the “danger” of using Peloton’s Tread+ exercise machine, a $4,200 product involved in 39 accidents including the death of a child. The commission, which has been investigating the product since Peloton released news of the child’s death last month, urges consumers with children or pets at home to stop using the treadmill.
In response, New York-based Peloton published a statement refuting the safety agency’s claims, calling them “inaccurate and misleading” and noting that there is “no reason to stop using the Tread+, as long as all warnings and safety instructions are followed.” Peloton also said it is open to working with the CPSC and suggested ways its customers say they keep children safe during home workouts, such as scheduling workouts during naps or at night when children are sleeping; using a baby gate; or having a spouse or partner watch children in another room.
A Peloton spokeswoman did not respond to a request for further comment.
While Peloton was already popular before the pandemic, its sales rose even more as exercise-hungry consumers turned to bikes and treadmills to get them through COVID lockdowns and other restrictions. To continue the momentum, at a time when recently reopened gyms are trying to lure back members, Peloton last week debuted an Olympics-themed campaign starring several well-known athletes including Usain Bolt and Allyson Felix.
Yet the recent treadmill controversy could already be damaging the brand. On Monday morning, Peloton’s stock was down 9% to near $105.