Ron Miller’s review on NordicTrack Elite 9500

Today we share with you Ron Miller’s undesirable experience, owner of a NordicTrack Elite 9500 treadmill. If you have a good or bad treadmill story you would like to share and help us and our readers make the wisest treadmill choices, please review these guidelines.

I ordered a Nordictrack Elite 9500 Pro treadmill from Sears on Jan 25, 2012 and it was delivered sometime around Feb 2nd. This treadmill is incredibly heavy, and it had some very minor damage to the box when it was delivered. When I opened the box, I noticed that the plastic panels (top and bottom) of the treadmill at the front had some minor damage (holes, cracks, and they were out of alignment).

It looked like it might be just cosmetic damage, but I called up Icon Fitness customer support anyway. The person I talked to was very friendly and seemed very knowledgeable, and he recommended that I have the panels replaced. He placed an order for me (all covered by warranty), and the parts shipped promptly.

A few days later (after I was able to get some help to move the treadmill to where I wanted it installed), I put the machine together, carefully following the instructions in the instruction manual. After I had it assembled, I followed instructions and tried to calibrate the incline. The machine jiggled a little bit for a few minutes, then did nothing for a while, and after that it said that the calibration failed. After calibration failed, nothing worked any more (I couldn’t start the treadmill or get it to do anything other than just play around with the touch screen).

At this point, the plastic panels had not arrived yet, so I called up customer service to let them know, and they added an note to the work order request for the technician to check out the incline. At this point, I was disappointed, but you have to expect things like this to happen sometimes.

The new panels for the treadmill arrived shortly afterwards, and I had been told to call up the repair company that would be doing the repairs. I tried calling a half dozen times during the day, and always just received an answering message. I finally gave up figuring that they didn’t actually answer their phones and expected me to leave a message. I left a message saying the parts were here, and could they please schedule someone to come and take a look at the machine.

About a week later, the contractor finally got back to me and asked me if the parts had arrived yet (obviously they never listened to my message). This was the first time that I started to get a little annoyed, but there wasn’t much I could do about it. I scheduled an appointment for the next week (by the time the technician even showed up at my house, it was about three weeks after I had first contacted Icon Fitness).

The technician showed up on time, and rather than investigate the reason for the unit not working, he proceeded to take the unit apart so he could replace the plastic panels. He disconnected many of the wires, removed a few major internal pieces, and started complaining about how difficult it was to replace the panels. After an hour or so, he told me that there were major bent pieces inside and that the frame must have been dropped. He said there wasn’t any point continuing with the installation until ordering those pieces, and so he said he would order them and that he would come back with a helper to make installation easier.

I waited for about 5 days, and then called Icon Fitness customer service to see what the status was. The person I talked to said that the replacement items had been “noted”, but that the order had not been placed. The Icon Fitness representative said he would take care of it, and I received an order status later that day, and the items shipped soon afterwards.

As soon as I received the tracking number for the parts, I called up the technician directly to see if we could schedule an appointment. The technician said he was booked for several weeks, and that I would need to wait for his “scheduler” to get back to me (at some unknown point in the future). This was very frustrating to me (and I never had a good impression of this technician anyway), so I called up Icon Fitness to see if they could send someone else.

Again, Icon Fitness handled my call very professionally, and two days later I was called by another repair company and they scheduled an appointment for about a week later. The person who came this time seemed much more knowledgeable. He looked at my treadmill with horror, and asked who had left the unit completely disassembled. He said he couldn’t put it together without a wiring diagram.

In addition, he said that if the incline was not working, they needed to either replace the incline motor or the main control board. He also looked at the new parts that the previous technician had ordered, and said that there was nothing wrong with the supposed “bent pieces” and suggested that the previous technician probably just ordered them so he could get out of working on my job and move on to his next appointment. This thought hadn’t occurred to me, but did seem very consistent with how the previous technician had been acting. The previous technician had also continuously mentioned that he wanted extra help, so that may have been on his mind as well. So, the second technician ordered yet more parts, and then left without being able to work on my treadmill at all. A few days later, new parts arrived and a new technician called up to schedule an appointment (same company this time, but just a different technician). He tried to schedule an appointment while I was away on spring break, and at my request, the appointment was moved a week later. This time, the technician that arrived seemed very competent and a hard worker.

I had called up Icon Fitness support to get the wiring diagram, and after printing it out and giving it to him, he went about putting my treadmill together. He worked for about 2-3 hours before finally getting everything together and replacing the panels and the parts associated with the incline function. He tried to start the treadmill to see if he could calibrate it, but nothing worked at all. The touch screen operated, but didn’t seem to be talking to the rest of the treadmill.

So, the technician called Icon Fitness and after about 15 minutes of debugging, they decided the unit needed a new console. So the new console was ordered two days ago, and today I received an email saying that the console is out of stock. At this point, who knows when they will have the parts and be able to schedule another appointment.

It is really hard to imagine that after more than two months of having this treadmill, it has not worked once, and I don’t know when it will ever work.

I had considered returning it, and called up Sears (who I had ordered it from). They said I could return it and they would send me a UPS tag. The treadmill weights about 375 poinds, so I doubt that UPS would ever have picked it up. Besides, I had arranged things and bought floor mats for the treadmill, and I really did want to see it get working. I explained this to Sears, and they said they could make arrangements, or they could give me a 10% rebate for my troubles. I decided to take the money and work with Icon Fitness to see if they could make the treadmill actually work.

On a side note, I tried to post a negative review to Icon Fitness’s website. I wrote up a review that I thought stated only facts (it was similar in tone to what I wrote in this message). I got an email back from Icon Fitness with a link to click to validate my email address and make the review go live. Well, I clicked that link but my review never went live, nor did I receive any explanation as to why my review was rejected.

I sent numerous emails back to Icon Fitness asking why my review was not posted, and never even received a response. Without any feedback as to why my review was rejected, it leaves me with no other conclusion than that they are “cherry picking” their reviews to only post the positive ones.

To summarize, here are a few of my thoughts:

  • The Icon Fitness customer service people I talked to were always very professional and easy to get ahold of, and when they shipped parts, the parts always shipped promptly (except for the out of stock main console that I’m still waiting on). The quality of their representatives is not a problem.
  • My experience with the quality of the technicians they work with was not very positive (I guess mostly just the first one, so it could have just been bad luck)
  • Icon Fitness does a horrible job of managing the scheduling of repairs. They should be the one calling up the repair technicians to schedule and not me. They also should be smart enough to figure out that the technicians are heavily booked, and they should schedule appointments at the same time that the parts ship. It has been over two months since I first called Icon Fitness, and I’ve only had three visits from a technician (an average of about three weeks from when I contact Icon Fitness until a technician actually arrives at my house). They could easily manage this much better.
  • There should be some limit on repair times, and if they cannot fix the unit within a reasonable amount of time, they should just ship a new unit. Even if the next technician replaces the console soon and makes the unit work, it will have been 2 1/2 months. That is just a ridiculous amount of time. Any time I try to talk to Icon Fitness about this, they simply say we only do what the technician requests.
  • While the customer service agents were always professional, I felt that they could have noticed how messed up my order has been, and made some sort of effort to get more urgent service. I did ask (very nicely) to talk to a manager, but my request was denied. Instead, they just kept following the formula of sending more parts and more technicians.
  • Icon Fitness should be more honest with the reviews they post on their site and allow me to post a bad review. The other complaints I have are more a matter of “competence”, but this one is a matter of honesty and integrity. It just seems incredibly dishonest to only post positive reviews on your site, and it makes me wonder what they are trying to hide. If they though my review was not appropriate, at least they could have told me why, but they did not seem to want to do that.

Icon Fitness customer representatives have been trying to sell me their extended warranty. What sort of value is an extended warranty if it takes them more than two months to do a repair? Anyway, that is my story. I made the mistake of cancelling my fitness club membership when my treadmill arrived. Silly me. I’ve now basically given up mentally on the treadmill ever working, and am trying to do runs outside (although the weather isn’t great for running here at the moment).

Thank you for listening! Ron Miller

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