Fitbit Inc (NYSE:FIT) Faces Lawsuit Over Deceptive Heart Reading


Fitbit Inc (NYSE:FIT)’s reputation could be damaged if it is proven that its gadgets render deceptive heart readings. A lawsuit has been filed against the company by a group of customers who claim that Fitbit Charge HR and Surge wearables misread their heart rates. The plaintiffs claim that independent tests have shown the two fitness trackers missing heart readings by up to 75 beats per minute (bpm).

However, in what could complicate the picture for the plaintiffs, a recent survey by Consumer Reports showed that the two wearables work just fine in taking heart reading. Of course, Consumer Reports noted variations in the heart readings against a chest strap, but there was nothing alarming overall. Back in 2015, Consumer Reports also test Fitbit Charge HR and Surge to see if they deliver the promise and the test found gadgets to be accurate.

As for Fitbit Inc (NYSE:FIT), the claims of its wearables giving faulty heart readings can have serious implications on its business of selling fitness trackers. The company can only hope that the court will not side with the plaintiffs.

Although Consumer Reports findings seem to exonerate Fitbit from claims, its latest test was largely limited in scope and population. Consumer Reports tracked only two Fitbit users (male and female) over a few seasons of exercise.

Independent test

The claims by the plaintiffs that Fitbit Inc (NYSE:FIT)’s heart readers are inaccurate are backed by a test performed by a cardiologist. It turns out the cardiologist found Charge HR and Surge to miss heart rate readings by a margin of 24 to 75 bpm. The difference is not only huge, but Fitbit could be hard-pressed to explain it if the claims are proven.

Impact on business

Fitbit Inc (NYSE:FIT) is finding opportunity in selling its fitness trackers through corporate channels. Although the channel presently contributes just about 10% of total revenue, it is a huge growth opportunity in the long-term as enterprise wellness awareness increases. However, with claims that Fitbit Inc (NYSE:FIT)’s wearables are rendering wrong heart reading, some potential customers may be put off and existing ones may consider cutting ties with the Fitbit, thus derailing the company’s growth. That explains why Fitbit needs to handle the consumer claims with great care.