Peloton Tread+ Safety Update Makes Machines Unusable for Nonpaying Users

Peloton is temporarily waiving membership fees for those customers and says it is working on a fix

Peloton + Photo: Peloton

Peloton announced a new safety feature for consumers who have not yet returned their recalled Tread+ treadmills for a full refund, but the new feature left some users locked out of the connected machines entirely.

Via a software update, the company added the Tread Lock feature, which requires users to input a passcode to use their treadmills. That’s designed to prevent kids or unauthorized users from activating the machines. In May, a nationwide recall of the Tread+ treadmill began after 72 reports of adults, children, pets, or objects being pulled under the treadmill—resulting in at least 29 injuries to children and one death.

But the new, mandatory Tread Lock safety feature is currently available only to users with an All-Access membership. Once it was deployed, those who were not paying $39 per month for access to Peloton’s virtual fitness classes were unable to use the treadmill at all. Previously, those who did not subscribe to virtual classes could still use the machine’s Just Run feature.

“Once the machine did an automatic software update, it turned the treadmill completely off for use,” says Jennifer Strong, who posted about the issue in a Facebook group for Peloton users.

“Unfortunately, at this time, ’Just Run’ is no longer accessible without a Peloton Membership,” a company representative told Strong in an email reviewed by Consumer Reports, which failed to mention that she could return the machine for a full refund as part of the recall.

More on Treadmills

“Due to current technical limitations, Tread Lock is not yet available without a Peloton Membership,” a Peloton spokesperson wrote in an email, in response to an inquiry from Consumer Reports. “We . . . are working on updates to Tread Lock that will allow us to make Tread Lock and Just Run available without a Peloton Membership.” The company did not provide a timeline for the updates but said that, in the interim, it has provided free three-month memberships to Tread+ owners so that all users can enable Tread Lock and Just Run.

Peloton Tread+ owners who don’t currently have an active membership can activate their three months of free membership by signing in to their account on the Tread+ or by contacting the Peloton support team, according to Peloton.

But Strong, for one, says she’d rather not have to sign up for any kind of membership—including the three-month free one—to use her treadmill. “I would prefer to not sign up for that and stand by our rights as consumers to own equipment we have purchased,” she says. “I won’t be using that offer.”

An update that makes machines unusable and doesn’t provide universal access to safety features should be addressed immediately, says William Wallace, Consumer Reports’ manager of safety policy. “Safety must not be treated as a luxury, especially following a recall,” he says.

“I tried out the membership for a few months in the beginning, and it wasn’t for me,” Strong says. “I would still like to just use the walk feature and not be forced to pay for the membership. It’s not about the money for me. It’s just about the principle of owning the equipment.”

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has not responded to a query from Consumer Reports asking whether the agency has discussed the implementation of the Tread Lock feature with Peloton.

The Peloton Tread+ recall was announced jointly by Peloton and the CPSC on May 5. In the recall, the company announced that consumers could contact Peloton to arrange for a full refund until Nov. 6, 2022. For consumers who do not want a refund, Peloton is offering to move the treadmill free of charge to a room where children or pets cannot access the treadmill. The company also announced that it would be implementing safety features like the Tread Lock, though it was not clear at the time that this feature would require a membership.

“To win back people’s trust, and show that it is truly putting safety first, Peloton should be transparent about how the Tread+ recall is going—which is even more important in light of this latest issue,” Wallace says. CR asked Peloton for details about the progress of its recall, but the company declined to share this information, which must be reported monthly to the CPSC.

CR recommends that Tread+ users immediately stop using the machine and contact Peloton at 866-679-9129 or via its website to return the treadmill for a full refund.

Head shot image of CRO Health editor Kevin Loria

Kevin Loria

I'm a science journalist who writes about health for Consumer Reports. I'm interested in finding the ways that people can transform their health for the better and in calling out the systems, companies, and policies that expose patients to unnecessary harm. As a dad, I spend most of my free time trying to keep up with a toddler, but I also enjoy exploring the outdoors whenever possible. Follow me on Twitter (@kevloria).