I bought a Fitbit. And then I sent it back for a refund

A Fitbit is an Internet-connected pedometer. It’s a little gadget that looks like like a clothespin. You clip it to your belt, or to your bra (if you’re a woman, or a guy who’s fun at parties). It keeps track of the distance you’ve walked or run. At night, you attach it to a wristband and it’ll keep track of how long and how soundly you slept. It communicates that information to a number of Internet and iPhone-enabled fitness programs, including two that I use: Lose It and RunKeeper.

At least, that’s the way it’s supposed to work.

In reality, I found the device to be highly inaccurate. It told me I was burning hundreds of calories more every day than I was actually burning. If I’d eaten as much food as the Fitbit said I could, I would have put on weight.

I did several trials counting off 10 steps, and Fitbit counted an average 14 steps instead. I walked a measured quarter-mile several times, and Fitbit said that distance was a third of a mile. I walked the same route on different days, and Fitbit gave me different measurements, varying almost double.

One day when I wasn’t wearing the Fitbit at all, the device still measured 500 calories of activity.

Fitbit support seemed to be trying to be helpful, but they were slow, averaging three days between queries.

I enjoyed fooling around with the thing for a while, trying to see why it wasn’t working right, but it was coming up on the one-month period during which I could get a refund. So I decided to ship it back and get my $100 returned

I’m not going to tell you not to buy a Fitbit, because many people enjoy theirs. It’s possible I just got a bum unit. It’s also possible that people find Fitbit accurate enough for their purposes. And people seem to enjoy the social aspect; Fitbit lets you friend people and then share your exercise and fitness results with them.

But Fitbit isn’t right for me, and if you need accurate exercise information, I see no evidence that it’s right for you either.

2 Replies to “I bought a Fitbit. And then I sent it back for a refund”

  1. I have a pedometer at home that I am now inspired to dust off and give a whirl. On a different note, how do you like the Lose It app? I was thinking of joining Weight Watchers (I’ve never tracked my food in a journal or app in my life), but Lose It is free and appears to be the same idea.

  2. Did you set your stride length in the Fitbit settings?

    Sorry that it didn’t work better for you. My unit appears to work fine when I wear it in one of the recommended spots…. center of bra. My stride must be the default…

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