On November 11, 2011, I purchased a Star Trac Elite Total Body Trainer Elliptical from Fitness Equipment Depot Worldwide (FEDW) located in Bethpage, New York. I actually live locally, so I was able to visit the facility and personally meet with some key staff. I will leave their names anonymous as my experience may not be how this company conducts themselves on a regular basis. However, Im just saying that my experience should make any potential customer proceed with caution.
First, I am not sure what the legal company name is that sold me the elliptical. The receipt says Fitness Equipment Depot Worldwide, they are also known as Fitness Plus. According to the Better Business Bureau, they are otherwise ZKJ Fitness, Inc. More confusing is that their billing is through a company in Pittsburg, California known as KAC Fitness. Im just saying that in the end, I was not really sure who I was dealing with and this could be a cause for caution.
As stated above, on 11/11/2011 I purchased and paid in full for a Star Trac Elite Total Body Trainer. As is FEDWs standard lead time, I was told that my elliptical would be delivered to me sometime between 2 and 6 weeks from the date of purchase. My next contact with them was 12/2/2011 when I spoke with my Sales Representative who informed me that my delivery was scheduled for 12/7/2011, he was also nice enough to send me a picture of what appeared to be my completed unit. As I had not heard from them, I again contacted FEDW on 12/6/2011 and spoke with the same Sales Representative about my delivery. At this time, he informed me that the delivery was rescheduled until 12/16/2011. When I inquired as to the reason for the delay, I was told that they were waiting on a part and that 12/16 was still within the agreed upon 6 week time frame. Again, when the week of 12/16 arrived, I had to contact them in order to confirm delivery. I did just that on 12/15/2011 and was assured by FEDWs Shipping Manager that they would be at my home with the elliptical on 12/16/2011. Im just saying that these people dont seem to feel that it is important to initiate proper and professional communications with their customer.
The morning of 12/16/2011 had arrived. I was excited about my new elliptical being delivered and stayed home from work. To my surprise, on this very same morning FEDWs Shipping Manager called me at about 9:45am asking me if I had received his email which was sent only 2 hours earlier then his phone call. I informed him that I had not seen his correspondence. He then communicated to me that there would not be a delivery today as their only truck had not one, but two flat tires. I must say that I found this extremely difficult to believe. I asked him why he could not have the truck repaired and still make the delivery this same afternoon. He stated that he would see what he could do and call me back in hour. Of course, he never called. So, I called him at 2:30pm and he said that he had not gotten any word yet and would call me right back. You guessed it, he did not call. When I called at around 4:15pm, I was informed that he had left for the day. Being that this was a Friday, I was left hanging not knowing when my elliptical would now be delivered. With that, I reached out to the Head of Sales who made arrangements for the delivery on the following Monday, 12/19/2011.
Monday morning 12/19/2011 arrives and I again stay home from work in order to accept delivery of my new elliptical. On this day, the truck actually did show up to my home. First thing upon greeting the driver, I asked How are the new tires on the truck? The driver looked at me as if I were nuts and answered, what new tires, this truck does not have any new tires on it. Of course when I questioned the Shipping Manager he just acted annoyed and stated that the driver was not aware of the flats on the only truck we have. You may choose to believe the Manager, but Im just saying that I find that near impossible to believe. Anyway, we now must get the elliptical into my house. Although both the driver and his assistant were very nice, professional young men, collectively they weighed 300 pounds soaking wet. This Star Trac Elliptical weighs 451 pounds. One guess who had to provide a significant amount of the labor, thats correct, I did.
I paid for a fully refurbished piece of equipment that I was told would be like brand new when delivered. Now that we had the unit in the house, Im just saying that in my opinion it was far from like new. In order to get the unit into the house some pieces needed to be removed. To my amazement what I saw was some rusted parts, old hardware, as well as what looked like years of caked on dirt and grime. Even some of the exterior parts had years of dust and dirt built up that I had to clean. And, some of the covers were clearly well used and not anywhere in like new condition. However, upon testing the unit it seemed to be in proper working order.
Here is where the situation really goes down hill. That very first evening when using my new elliptical I noticed that not all of the features were available on the Control Panel of the unit. My initial thought was that FEDW had mistakenly put the wrong Control Module onto my elliptical. Star Trac makes 2 similar models, the Total Body Trainer Pro and the Total Body Trainer Elite. I had contracted and paid for the Elite, which is a higher end unit with more features then the Pro, as well it cost considerably more. All of the covers and manufacturer stickers on my elliptical clearly indicated that this unit was an Elite. This is in fact why I thought the wrong Module was on it, because when referring to the Owners Manual, it was clear that the Control Module was from the Pro model. I am not just saying, at this point I knew something was very wrong.
The very next morning, 12/20/2011, I contacted FEDW and was referred to their Head of Operations Manager. This gentleman was very helpful and professional. He found my story hard to believe. I told him probably not as difficult as I do. He requested that I provide him with the Manufacturers Serial Number off the unit. I actually took a picture of the same and sent it to him. While he did his research, I took it upon myself to call the manufacturer. I provided Star Trac with the Serial Number. Turns out, my elliptical did not have the wrong Control Module on it after all. Star Trac informed me that the elliptical that I was in possession of was in fact not the Elite model that I paid for, but it was the lower, less expensive Pro model. When I explained to them that my elliptical has all of the Elite Outer Casings and Labeling on it, they let me know that there was no way when that unit was new that it left their factory that way. When FEDWs Operations Manager got back to me, he agreed that the unit delivered to me was not what I had contracted and paid for, but was in fact the lower end Pro model. Of course he, along with every other staff member at FEDW that I spoke with had no idea how the Elite covers ended up on the Pro model and then the same delivered to their customer. Im just saying that even if this were not a deliberate Bait and Switch, I find it unbelievable that FEDW did not check out the Serial Number of a used piece of equipment before they purchased it. I am not sure what is worse, them portraying a lower end piece of equipment as something it is not or, the claim that they had no idea how this happened. Im just saying that the later would make me have to conclude that such a company knows very little about the business they are in. It took me all of five minutes to determine that the elliptical in question was not in fact an Elite model as it was depicted to be.
Immediately after gaining agreement that the elliptical that was now in my home was clearly labeled and sold as a Star Trac Elite but, in fact was not, I requested in writing to both the Operations and Sales Manager to refund me in full and come pick up your inferior elliptical. To my amazement it was not that simple. I was informed that no refund would be granted until after FEDW picked up their piece of equipment. Im just saying that in my opinion this is a very suspicious way to conduct business. FEDW now knows that they have a customer who can clearly prove a Bait and Switch occurred, whether deliberate or accidental, and they do not immediately do everything in their power to rectify this situation. After numerous more times of me having to call them, I am informed that the soonest they can come pick up their equipment is on 1/2/2012, some 2 additional weeks of hassle and stress.
The morning of 1/2/2012 arrives and I get a call from FEDWs Sales Manager that the truck will be at my home sometime between 1pm and 2pm. I will say that this gentleman was always professional and I got the impression that his decision making authority maybe handcuffed by ownership. I was outside with my children throwing the football while waiting for the truck. It was now a little after 1:30pm. I checked my cell phone and saw that the FEDW driver had left a voice message stating that they could not find my home. Im just saying that this is also extremely difficult to believe as they had already been to my home just a few short weeks ago and had no problem finding it. I immediately called them back some 12 minutes after their message and received no answer. I kept trying every 5 minutes or so until the driver finally picked up. It was now a total of about 25 minutes since their initial voice mail. Upon speaking with the driver he informed me that they were instructed by the Shipping Manager to return to the FEDW Warehouse and that they would not be doing the pick up today. I asked the driver to let me speak with this same manager, who then, I believe took the phone and deliberately hung up on me. Im just saying that is my opinion. Numerous attempts to call them back were unsuccessful. No real surprise there.
As every attempt to contact the Shipping Manager to once again reschedule this pick up was a failure, I instead contacted the Sales Manager. He again made arrangements to have FEDWs elliptical picked up on 1/6/2012. This is now the fourth day of work that I was forced to take off in order to convenience FEDWs schedule. Unbelievably, the pick up actually occurred on this day. Also unbelievable was that I still did not have my money returned to me. Although it was communicated to me numerous times by FEDWs management that a full refund had been processed, it was not until 1/12/2012 that their Book Keeper actually submitted the credit to my charge card. Im just saying that keeping my money for as long as they did, under what I feel was fraudulent terms, if not illegal, it should be.
Im just saying, what kind of company knows so little about their business that they could even mistakenly ship a customer such a piece of equipment as an elliptical with all the wrong casings and labeling? Of course, in this case the error was in the financial interest of the company and not the customer. Im just saying, do you really think that was a coincidence? What kind of a company claims that this was an honest mistake and then does not immediately refund the customer their money? Im just saying that I do not believe that their truck ever had any flat tires? What kind of company inconveniences their customer on numerous occasions by not showing up when they said they would and then feels no obligation to doing whats right. As compensation for all they put me through, FEDW did offer to give me an extra special deal on the next piece of equipment that I purchased from them. I actually found this to be amussing. Im just saying, why would I risk spending one dollar with them?
Perhaps my opinion is wrong and my experience was unique with Fitness Equipment Depot Worldwide or Fitness Depot or ZKJ Fitness Inc. or KAC Fitness, not sure of their legal name. Im just saying that I doubt it. Be cautious or you could be next.