In early January, Peloton announced a promotional offer giving buyers free delivery and set-up until January 30--something that previously came standard with a Peloton purchase.
Come January 31, Peloton will cost an additional $250 to cover something its leading competitors include for free: delivery and set-up. However, the cleverly deceptive marketing tactic to lightly transition from free shipping to delivery fees isn't the only thing the cult-like indoor bike brand was hoping you wouldn't notice.
After all, Peloton users expect to pay a high price for the highly sought-after bragging rights that come with its ownership. But despite its price tag of around $1,495 to $2,495 or more, there's one major thing that Peloton bikes can't do: connect to entertainment, such as Netflix or YouTube. Well, according to Peloton anyway. And it's costing the company a lot more than shipping expenses--it's also costing customers, myself included.
So much so, Peloton just announced that it is halting the production of its bikes in treadmills due to the brand's dying demand. And not surprisingly so.
The indoor bike brand had put at-home indoor cycling on the map with its cult-like following of around 5.9 million members, generating a quarterly revenue of $937 million. It did an incredible job of building a market, but at some point, it stopped working to give consumers what they wanted--something no business should ever do. Instead of optimizing and improving upon its products, it rested on its laurels and sent potential customers into the arms of its competitors.
Having had an indoor bike for years prior to when Peloton or bikes with built-in screens existed, I, like 77 percent of indoor bike owners, had largely used my bike to watch TV or read a book. While I enjoyed the occasional spin class, the reality is that after a long day, I wasn't always keen to be barked at by an overly enthusiastic instructor over blaring music.
For me, the indoor bike wasn't just to crank up the energy for physical fitness, but to turn off my brain. It was a way to enjoy a guilty pleasure, guilt-free. So after putting up with a rickety bike for years, it was time for an upgrade. Naturally, Peloton--the brand synonymous with indoor bikes the way Kleenex is with tissues--was my first thought.
On a quest to justify the $1,500 price tag, I realized something I hadn't even considered. The simple ability to access web browsers and apps isn't a standard feature as I had assumed it was.
Upon scouring the web, I found plenty of users explaining how to connect Peloton to Netflix or YouTube. But as I dug deeper, I found that the simple solutions connected via a separate device (i.e., a smart TV). And those who were accessing it from their bike's screen were jailbreaking the software.
In disbelief, I reached out to Peloton's customer service, who confirmed, "Peloton Bike and Treads are designed to take advantage of Peloton content and do not support accessing other websites such as Netflix." In doing so, I was told, it could affect the software on the bike, which could cause issues with the bike's screen.
And if this happens? You guessed it, your warranty will be void. Granted, it's unclear if Peloton would be able to access your bike's history, between technological capabilities and privacy laws.
Either way, Peloton wasn't for me.
Not only had I failed to justify the price, but the brand built on convenience was becoming a pain. From the required accessories to the cleverly deceptive marketing tactic and its evident ability to access the internet (as you can watch owners do) combined with its failure to make it a proper feature, I lost trust. And trust is an absolute must-have for any company.
For less than a third of the price, I got a bike that does what the Peloton can't, while offering what Peloton doesn't: a great value--something every business should be working to minimally match their price point to, if not surpass. Because whether you're working to attract new customers, build loyalty, or perhaps just get a great workout, it's about going the extra mile--or inch--and not taking shortcuts.