Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Peloton, Reverses Decision, Agrees To Safety Recall Of Treadmills


Peloton, the company known for its stationary bikes, has told customers to stop using its treadmills immediately. The company first resisted pressure from the Consumer Product Safety Commission for a few weeks despite reports of injuries and, in one instance, the death of a 6-year-old child. Bethany Biron has been reporting on this story for Insider. Good morning, Bethany.

BETHANY BIRON: Good morning. Thanks for having me.

KING: We're happy to have you. What is happening with Peloton treadmills, exactly? How are people being injured and killed?

BIRON: Yeah. So these treadmills and, you know, now, at least 38 reported incidents have, essentially, sucked in small children, pets using the sheer force and size of this machine. There are a few reasons that it's different than the traditional treadmill - that it's just extremely large. The distance from the ground to the base of the treadmill is a little bit higher than average. And the way the track is actually laid is different. So the Consumer Product Safety Commission found that there were several issues with the treadmill that needed to be reviewed.

KING: Do you have an understanding of why, knowing that these - knowing that this was going on, Peloton wouldn't just immediately say stop using them? Why did they wait for weeks?

BIRON: Yeah, that's - I think that's a great question and the question that everyone's wondering. You know, I spoke with an analyst yesterday who said there were several reasons why companies drag their feet with this type of recall. You know, it could be company culture that, you know, isn't prone to admit failure, you know, not being willing to swallow the costs. Though, in this case, you know, Peloton had a huge year, huge 2020 during the pandemic. Their total revenue was $1.8 billion. They're projected to hit 4 million in 2021. So yeah, it's - you know, it's a great question. I'm not totally sure. I think most people and experts would say that they should have immediately recalled the machine and worked with the CPSC. But, yeah, we'll find out more of that to come.

KING: Peloton has marketed itself as more than just a fitness company. I've seen the commercials. It's a lot. But their customers are very loyal. What does this mean for the company's image, do you think?

BIRON: Yeah. Peloton has a really intense, devoted following. I think that's something that's really continued to almost surprise me during the reporting process - even talking to people who've been injured by the treadmill...

KING: Really?

BIRON: You know, a few of - yeah. One of the women I spoke with who was, actually, severely injured, at the end of the day, was like, I still - you know, I love my treadmill. I don't want it to be recalled. When I spoke with her yesterday, she told me she was disappointed. So - you know, she's obviously not every case here. But they do have a very, very devoted and loyal fan following. With the case of the treadmill, the treadmill really only constitutes about 2% of their total sales. Most of their sales still come from the stationary bike, which I believe is around 78%. So in the long run, the treadmill issue is not - analysts say it's probably not going to be a huge hit to their business. But the reputational impact of this, I think, is definitely going to be, at least in the short term, quite large.

KING: Bethany Biron, a reporter for Insider. Thank you, Bethany, for joining us. We appreciate it.

BIRON: Thank you so much.

(SOUNDBITE OF FRAMEWORKS' "ALL DAY") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.