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Peloton strikes deal to recall treadmills tied to one death, many injuries

The Peloton Tread on display at CES, an annual trade show organized by the Consumer Technology Association, in Las Vegas in 2018. Peloton is recalling its Tread+ and Tread treadmills, the at-home fitness company said on Wednesday.
The Peloton Tread on display at CES, an annual trade show organized by the Consumer Technology Association, in Las Vegas in 2018. Peloton is recalling its Tread+ and Tread treadmills, the at-home fitness company said on Wednesday.ROGER KISBY/New York Times/File 2018

Peloton agreed to recall its Tread Plus treadmills from the US market in a deal struck Wednesday morning with federal safety regulators, a stunning reversal for the home exercise company after it spent weeks denying its treadmills were to blame for accidents tied to one child’s death and injuries to 29 other children.

The voluntary agreement with the Consumer Product Safety Commission — which includes a full refund for consumers who purchased the $4,300 machines — comes after the company spent weeks fighting against a potential recall.

The deal represents an abrupt change in tone for Peloton, whose chief executive John Foley told consumers just last month that the company had “no intention” of recalling the treadmills.

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But Peloton’s stance proved untenable. Public backlash over the accidents grew. Its stock price fell about 16 percent in the three weeks since its battle with safety regulators was revealed last month. Peloton’s stock was down 14.56 percent Wednesday, to close at $82.62.

A Washington Post report last month detailed how Peloton declined to voluntarily recall the treadmill and clashed with the CPSC over the wording of a proposed safety notice.

The next day, the CPSC posted a strongly worded notice warning consumers to stop using the treadmills because of the risk of getting pulled under the treadmills by the rotating, slatted running surface.

Peloton responded with a statement calling those claims “misleading” and “inaccurate.”

The CPSC’s recall notice said the agency was aware of more than 70 incidents with the Tread Plus, including the death of a 6-year-old child and injuries to other children that included broken bones, cuts, and third-degree abrasions.

In the days before the recall, the two sides appeared to be at a stalemate.

The CPSC needs a company’s cooperation to recall a product. Almost all recalls are voluntary, except in rare cases where the agency sues to force the issue.

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The agency was preparing to file a lawsuit to compel Peloton to take action when the company approached the agency to work out the details of a recall, according to an official familiar with the incident.

The recall applies to 125,000 Peloton Tread+ machines. The company is offering a full refund through Nov. 6, 2022. Peloton is also offering customers who still want to keep their treadmills the option of software safety improvements.

The CPSC’s announcement of a recall also included an apology from Foley.

“I want to be clear, Peloton made a mistake in our initial response to the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s request that we recall the Tread+,” Foley said in the statement. “We should have engaged more productively with them from the outset. For that, I apologize.”

The CPSC also on Wednesday announced a recall of Peloton’s newest treadmill, called the Peloton Tread. There are only 1,050 of this model. The large touch-screen monitor on the treadmills can detach and fall, according to the CPSC.

Peloton is offering a full refund or free repairs.