Ohiyo!

Just a quick break in my current reviews of the 2008 treadmills and ellipticals coming out of Sole Fitness. For the past month or so we’ve been getting in a large number of reader emails here at the DOJO talking about a problem that has been popping up with some of the retailers who are selling Sole treadmills and Sole ellipticals online. Before anyone freaks out, the problem is from no fault of Sole Fitness and they may or may not even know it’s been happening.

Shady Gray Market Retailers

The problem that a lot of readers have been running in to has been from retailers who advertise an unbelievably low price for all their Sole equipment but, when a customer tries to buy a Sole unit the semi-shady sales people attempt to bait-and-switch them into another piece of equipment (generally a slightly lower-spec’d, higher priced unit from Spirit Fitness). We’ve gotten even more startling word that some buyers have been sent a Spirit model INSTEAD of the Sole unit they had intended to purchase. When attempting to return the units, the customers are told they signed a consent form stating that a Spirit model may be substituted for a Sole unit if it is “out of stock.” Well, unfortunately for the customers, these retailers almost never really have a Sole unit in stock!

If you do decide to take a chance on buying a Sole treadmill or elliptical from one of the gray market dealers for a lower price (which may result in a voided warranty, so be careful), then make sure never to sign any sales receipts or confirmations. When buying with your credit online you absolutely shouldn’t have to sign anything and a company that asks for something like that is probably trying to sneak something past you. If you sign a sales order or sales confirmation then you may be giving up your rights to cancel an order (even if it hasn’t shipped or been processed yet!), and you may just wind up with a $1000+ piece of equipment you didn’t order.

If you’re looking for a Sole treadmill or elliptical online, there really are only three places to buy the equipment and still guarantee your warranty and guarantee you’re going to get exactly what you ordered. Three authorized websites that we are aware of are:

AUTHORIZED SOLE DEALERS:

The Sole Fitness Official Website: That’s right, Sole is online and does sell its units direct. The only downside is they are generally a few dollars more expensive than the other two locations. The upside is that you’re ordering direct from the manufacturer and they will be able to handle any questions or issues you might run in to. Plus, Sole’s customer support is top notch and award winning.

Amazon.com: That’s right, the largest online retailer in the world is also able to sell Sole products direct (as well as having a number of authorized third-party Sole vendors). Amazon generally has the lowest prices for Sole equipment and you, as a buyer, are supported by Amazon’s buyer protection policy. You are never charged until your item has shipped and you’re never asked to sign a shady sales “confirmation” and give up all of your rights. Amazon’s buyer protection policy is one of the best on the internet and they will make sure you get what you ordered and in a reasonable amount of time.

If you’re out on the market for Sole equipment (still some of the best treadmills and ellipticals around for the mid-range price arena), then make sure to be careful and purchase from one of the authorized dealers. Getting caught buying from a gray market dealer who tries to bait-and-switch you in to another unit might just result in you losing your money.

Oh, and if you run in to this problem with a shady retailer, send us a note here at the DOJO and we’ll run your letter to help other buyers watch out.

UPDATE: Since this posting went live we have received a flood of emails from readers with complaints from various dubious online retailers. I’ll be posting those emails here as soon as I get permission from the readers who wrote them. In the meantime, here is the first warning email from a loyal reader who has had problems with a retailer. This one comes from Bruce L in Maine. Take it away, Bruce.

I researched treadmills on your site and others (especially treadmilldoctor) and decided to purchase a Sole F63.

I thought you would like to know that they do not honor your discount, so you might not want to advertise it in future.

I also had many hassles completing the purchase under their terms and conditions. I had to email/scan/fax and call them directly more than once to complete it. If I were going to purchase again, I would purchase directly from Sole and will recommend that potential purchasers deal directly with Sole rather than dealing with all these third party hassles.

I will note that the treadmill has been working fine (I use it daily for an hour of walking) for 6 weeks or so except for one issue. The spring connected to the yellow lock release handle slipped off the handle a couple of times. I had to fish it out and reconnect it. At this point, I leave the treadmill down to avoid this problem. I am not sure if this is a common problem, but thought you would like to know. I am also reporting this to the treadmilldoctor for his reviews. -Bruce L. from Maine

Bruce:

Thanks for your note and information on the problems you encountered while ordering your treadmill. It sounds like you went through a bit of hell. Not that it helps your situation, but we have recently removed the links from a couple of retailers we have been getting numerous complaints about. I would say that I’d be concerned about any company that sent you one treadmill when you ordered another, especially if you went through as many hoops as it sounds like you did.

It sounds like you received a 2006 Spirit Z88. Unfortunately, that’s not a problem that was fixed on the Z88 or any of the current Spirit Treadmills, but the 2008 Sole F63 is, luckily, free of that issue. It’s good to hear that, otherwise, the treadmill has been performing well for you. At least your story had a happy ending. Thanks for the note, Bruce, and take care.

-The Treadmill Sensei
http://www.treadmillsensei.com