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Fitbit forced to offer two-year warranty

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LEADING wearable technology maker Fitbit has been slapped on the wrist by Australia’s competition watchdog following more than 100 complaints that it was unfairly refusing to fix faulty fitness trackers.

Representatives for the San Francisco-based company had turned away consumers complaining of faulty Fitbits if their product malfunctioned after one year, and only offered to replace malfunctioning devices for a period as short as 30 days after purchase.

But the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said the company’s actions and limited warranty broke Australian laws stating that consumers were “entitled to remedies which include repair, replacements, or refund” if a product was found to be defective.

ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court said these warranty rights were “automatic” and Fitbit could not unilaterally modify them to short-change consumers.

“Fitbit has acknowledged that it may have breached the law by misrepresenting what customers were entitled to for faulty products,” she said.

“If a business offers its own limited express warranty, they must make it clear that the warranty is in addition to the remedies available under the Australian Consumer Law consumer guarantees, not instead of them.”

Fitbit will now extend its “express manufacturer’s warranty” from one to two years in Australia, in a court-enforced undertaking, and will change packaging on its fitness trackers to make its warranty obligations clear.

The company will also retrain customer service staff and provide contact details on its website for Fitbit users who wish to report faulty products.

In a statement, Fitbit said it was “proud of our high standard of customer service” and co-operated with Australian authorities following the complaints.

“Fitbit has worked closely with the ACCC and voluntarily increased our warranty period in Australia from one year to a minimum of two years, giving our customers even greater peace of mind,” it said.

The ACCC has previously taken Apple to court over similar warranty requirements, including a case in March 2013 that saw Apple extend its standard one-year warranty to cover products for two years.

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