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 5 or 10 cars a year. Not only is the lack of comprehensive coverage a major failure, it completely eliminates an 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. Just in the last year and a half we have made additional trips to Asia and to Europe to sharpen our focus on the overall world fitness market.
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 a few years ago, wrote a letter and said to compare reviews with many sources. What he didn't tell the public was that most of the treadmill and elliptical 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 Treadmill Doctor does 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, About.com, and Consumer Reports.
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 5 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 some of the new NordicTracks and other new models. One interesting note for recent review is that they apparently had picked a treadmill from a company (Keys) that went out of business and had to make a last minute change. A prime example of their usual missteps is in a past rating 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 made 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- NOW AN AFFILIATE SITE! They used our help in picking models in the past but we stopped helping several years ago. Runner’s World claims that their new status as an affiliate has no bearing on their ratings of machines but you have to wonder, since they have a financial incentive to recommend a product that will result in Runner’s World getting paid, are they going to rate their affiliate partners poorly?
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 or ellipticals controls the reviews so you would expect their treadmills and ellipticals 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 Icon, 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 Utah 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.