Three people are suing Fitbit in a class action lawsuit, claiming the fitness company's monitors do not accurately record heart rates during intense physical activity despite marketing claims.
The complaint was filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in San Francisco.. The plaintiffs allege that Fitbit's Charge HR and Surge heart rate monitors under-recorded heart rates by as much as 78 beats per minute during strenuous physical activity when compared to monitoring methods such as chest strap heart rate monitors.
The suit also claims that because Fitbit products are sometimes used by consumers with medical or cardiac conditions, the glitch can be harmful.
The lawsuit against Fitbit comes at a time when physicians are encouraging patients to use self-monitoring technology like Fitbit heart rate monitors.
The plaintiffs are asking that the company cease “deceptive” marketing practices and provide refunds to unsatisfied customers, according to the lawsuit.
Fitbit did not return multiple requests for comment.
A court date has not yet been set and Fitbit has not responded to the suit, said Jonathan Selbin, a lawyer representing the plaintiffs.
None of the plaintiffs involved bought a Fitbit heart rate monitor on the recommendation of a physician, although one plaintiff claims his physician recommended he keep his heart rate below 160 beats per minute, motivating him to purchase a Fitbit product.
Spyros Kitsiou, an assistant professor in biomedical and health information sciences department at the University of Illinois at Chicago, said products like Fitbit aren't federally regulated because they aren't meant to diagnose a condition or provide treatment. But, Kitsiou cautions that since the products can impact health, the government should regulate them.
“Before these devices get out, we need to have validation tests,” Kitsiou said.
It hasn't been a good week for FitBit, which also saw its customers' accounts hacked. In an online post Thursday, Fitbit said fraudsters were using accounts to obtain replacement Fitbit products and then selling them. Fitbit said no company servers or systems were hacked. The company said they locked all compromised accounts and passwords were reset, minimizing the impact.
Fitbit went public in June and its stock was selling for $20.25 to $23.28 a share on Thursday. That's down from a high of $29.76 a share on Monday.