Treadmill Doctor’s Treadmill & Elliptical Review Comparison for 2010
Comparison with Other Review Services
When we started reviews in 1999, we felt that the other options on the market were lacking. Most of the reviews we read would be like a car magazine like Car & Driver only giving opinions on about 10 or 20 cars a year. Not only is the lack of comprehensive coverage a major failure, it completely eliminates their ability to have perspective on the market as a whole. Additionally, we started doing extensive travel several years ago to visit as many factories as possible. We have traveled the world and visited all of the major treadmill and elliptical manufacturers and went back to Asia this past Spring 2009. This was a very revealing trip because we didn’t just visit many of the assembly factories, we also visited many of the component manufacturers that make the belts, decks, rollers, motors, electronics, plastic parts, etc. that go into all the machines. We have plans to go back to Asia again in 2010 just to make sure we cover all our bases and also plan to visit facilities in Europe.
We originally said that if the publications would get better, we would quit rating machines but since we are now the authority on reviews, it doesn’t make sense to stop doing them. Below you will find our comments on other ratings that are published either in print on online for the public. Read our history of reviews for more info on the progression of our reviews.
One president of a fitness company, who coincidentally lost his job last year, wrote a letter and said to compare reviews with many sources. What he didn't tell the public was that most of the treadmill review sites on the web are affiliate sites and that his company was paying most of the review sites affiliate fees...that means when you buy what they recommend, the review site gets paid. We have NEVER accepted any monetary inducements for ratings and we do NOT accept any affiliate compensation when you click from our site to any of the ads on our site. The ads we display are similar to the Google ads you are already familiar with. If you click on the ad, we get a small fee for the clickthrough, not the purchase. For more info on our ad program, click here. We would also encourage you to look at other sources but if you do, the best sources are Consumersearch.com, Consumer Reports, and Runner's World.
Consumer Reports- Considered the standard at the time we started reviewing machines, it quickly became apparent that their testing method did not have real-world application. CR has started to do a better job on their reviews but their perspective is still limited due to the small number of models. We understand that beginning 2 years ago, they sent out questionnaires to factories to make sure they didn’t buy a bunch of discontinued machines but that helped them miss several great new offerings like the NordicTrack at Costco and other new models. One interesting note for last year's review is that they apparently had picked a treadmill from a company that went out of business and had to make a last minute change. A prime example of their usual missteps is in recent year’s ratings where they have the Lifefitness Essential FT6 as a best buy pick when Life had been trying to get rid of them on ebay for about ½ price and one FT6 customer from Anchorage emailed us asking for help dealing with the company because they were having problems getting it fixed after a blue flame shot out of the motor area when first plugged in. Interestingly, this is the same problem many Diamondback customers experienced with the 1200T which was made by the same factory in Taiwan that makes Life’s Essential line. You would think someone reviewing treadmills would have known this. If you need another opinion, this is no longer a bad option. They are doing better than they did years ago but still have a long way to go.
Runner’s World- Their 2009 ratings were an improvement but they further reduced the number of models tested. It helped that they asked our help in picking models for the last few years but we would have liked to see them include more models. They asked that we help again for the 2010 reviews but with all the projects we had going on this year, we didn’t have time to help this year…maybe next year. The interesting component of their request for help was they wanted help with their model selection but refused help on their rating system which still needs some help. In the past, there were two interesting components to their reviews that stood out to us immediately. First was the use of acceleration as a method to help rate the machine. This was particularly amusing since anyone who knows treadmills knows that if you jump the speed input circuit on most machines, you can get the treadmill to full output and full belt speed in about a second or two. Acceleration is a component of software programming and many companies choose slow acceleration in order to keep the belt from knocking the user off the belt so it is a safety issue, not a quality issue. The other issue was the way they let people who use treadmills regularly be a key component of how a treadmill is rated. All of us here can change oil on a car and we all drive our cars every day, but many of us don’t know the first thing about the specific components of a car and how we should determine the quality of car componentry.
Consumer Guide- These are the kings of swallowing the line from any company. Based on inflated MSRP’s of one distribution company that was having their models made by one of the largest private-label manufacturers, their models rated as best buys from this publication when the actual selling price was retail for comparable models made under different brand names. Just a quick search of who actually made the machine would have resulted in finding that this was the case, even if they didn’t know the fitness business in general.
Epinions- This site is always one of constant amusement. In general, the ratings are from people who have just bought a machine and are trying to convince other people to buy the same machine for whatever reason- buyer’s remorse, need for confirmation, etc. We have seen other ratings on Epinions written by salespeople- some admit their jobs in the rating, and some people that we know have posted reviews extolling the merits of a treadmill that will simply put money into their pockets. This is an interesting concept but tread carefully there since there are some people who will say anything and the content is affected as a direct result.
Monster Ratings (and other treadmill sellers reviews)- We used to hear about these all the time but don’t hear about them hardly at all any longer. People have figured out that the company selling the treadmills controls the reviews so you would expect their treadmills to rate as the best, which they commonly do.
Affiliate and Blogger Sites- A rather wicked phenomenon has popped up in the last couple of years where sites write reviews but then get paid for their recommendations when the sale is made. We know it is a stretch but let’s think about this for a second…if a person is being paid only when a factory is making a sale, who do you think the reviewer is going to push? That’s why you see so many sites favorably review models from Smooth and Sole (from what we understand, they pay the most at around 8% of the sale- that’s $120 commission for an average sale). We wish the factories would stop this practice and just build a good machine. As with a better mousetrap, if you build a better one, the world will beat a path to your door. Fortunately, the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) recently ruled that these sources can be punished if they don’t disclose that they are making money off their recommendations- up to $11,000 per incident. If you feel you have been duped by an affiliate or blogger site, you can report this to the FTC at www.ftc.gov or by calling the FTC at 877-FTC-HELP. We actually had a blogger site attack us a few years ago and in our settlement, we took over the site and sold it to a guy in Atlanta that now has his affiliate site called www.treadmillsensei.com Fortunately, he is disclosing that he is an affiliate site and many of his links are clearly product advertisements. Obviously when you compare our reviews, we don’t agree with him all the time but at least he is telling the public that he gets paid for his opinions and that’s the way it should be.