Thursday, September 12, 2013

Why you should NOT buy a Fitbit Flex...

I know I usually write about pottery but I'm as into fitness almost as much as I am the creative arts so I wanted to share a bit about my experience with Fitbit. Many of my friends have been considering getting a Flex so writing here is easier than talking / emailing eac.

The Fitbit Flex is a tracker you wear on your wrist that keeps up with your steps. It syncs to the computer & you can compete with your friends, keep up with your diet, calories and much more. (

Fitbit has a number of products. I started with a "One". The One clips to your belt, pocket or bra and does pretty much the same thing as the Flex, just not as conveniently. The Flex is waterproof so you can shower and swim with it...the One, not so waterproof.

The One has some advantages. It keeps up with floors, which is kind of fun. It gives you the time. You don't have to be near the computer to see your steps / miles walked as it has a display screen. The Flex lets you tap it, shows series of lights so you have a really broad idea of where you are in reaching your goals. However, most have the Fitbit app on their phone so that's not a biggie for many.

Anyway, as said, I started with the One and loved it. For my birthday my husband gifted me with the Flex, something I had wanted badly. Had to wait two months as it was back-ordered so the anticipation was even greater due to the wait.

I noticed immediately that my step count dropped. I "assumed" at first that the One had been incorrect. Not so. I was consistently off up to 4,000 steps.

After much back & forth with the nice folks (and they are) at Fitbit they sent me a replacement Flex. Told me to toss the old one. Wow, nice, didn't have to hassle with sending anything back & I ended up with some extra arm bands. Woo hoo.

However, the problem wasn't fixed.

I kept playing and finally figured out the Flex doesn't like treadmills.

My options, per Fitbit support, were to manually enter my steps (why have a Flex if I have to manually enter??? and calculate what I did, plus what wasn't counted, or take the thing off...) OR wear it on my waist-band. However, I wear sweats, no hooks for a band, no way to attach it.

So, I'm back to the One. I love the One, but hate that I just blew $100. That's a lot of clay!

I really, really want all my friends to avoid the Flex & please spread the news. If the Flex was off by a few hundred steps, no problem, I'd just make myself work a bit harder to reach my goals knowing I was actually going over. My goal is 15,000 steps a day, that's close to 7 miles. Sorry, hard enough to reach that without adding extras (although when I can I bump up to 20K).

I was going to try their Aria Wi-Fi Smart Scale (need a new scale) but nope, not going there. Will have to see if I'll replace the One if it goes out on me. Love competing with my friends, kind of addicted to keeping up with my steps, too. Maybe by the time I need a new One I'll be over the burn from this experience.

(Just in case your curious, right now: Flex band shows 7199 steps, the One shows 10627).

One more comment: I spent some time on the Fitbit Community dashboards before sending something to Fitbit. I'm not the lone stranger on this one, lots of others having similar issues. I think they need to do a bit of tweaking, maybe allow for some user-defined adjustments...


Here's the entire exchange we had just in case you want to see how they tried to work with me (until it bombed & then it's gee sorry you wasted $100). You'll have to start at the bottom & read up to get it in sequence...

Hello Janet,

Thanks for your time and patience with the Flex.

We appreciate you have checked the device setting in your account and we hope you keep enjoying your Fitbit One.

Feel free to contact us back if you need more help in the future.

Flor M and the Fitbit Team

Reply directly to this email, or click #805383 to update your case via our online support portal.
I think that being off by 3,000 to 4,000 steps is excessive, especially
since I have it on my dominate hand, set for non-dominate & I make sure
to keep that hand moving.

Hope your feedback dept. will read through all of the exchange below,
not just our current conversation.

I have nine-ten friends who were following my experience before they
decided to go with the Flex... love the One, can't recommend the Flex.
Gave you high marks with them re: customer service, attempting to fix
(although ultimately, no fix, just a waste of $'s for me).

Hello Janet,

We appreciate your patience with your Flex.

We are always striving to improve the Fitbit experience. We have forwarded your feedback to our product department. Sometimes we will have to manually log some activities since all Fitbit trackers are optimized for walking, running, and general household and lifestyle activities. It will not be as accurate for activities like walking on a treadmill, but will record that your were active if you wear your tracker during a non-walking or running activity.

Though your body is in motion on exercise machines, these motions are not recorded as accurately as your tracker records running or walking. That is why we recommend to log manually your activity.

Feel free to contact us back if we can be of more assistance.

Flor M and the Fitbit Team

Reply directly to this email, or click #805383 to update your case via our online support portal.
Thanks, but I don't have a way to hook it on my waist when walking and
it defeats the purpose of having the Flex to hafta manually enter
activity. I walk at a pretty good clip (3.5 & up mph) so slow walking is
not part of the issue.

Hi Janet,

We're sorry to hear that you're seeing a difference in how many steps your Flex is tracking comparing to your One when walking on a treadmill.

Fitbit's trackers can potentially miss steps if the user is walking on a treadmill desk at a very low speed. Our engineers have determined that Fitbit trackers will provide greatest accuracy if the user is wearing it clipped on their mid-section and walking at least 2 miles per hour. However you may still miss some steps.

Also, keep in mind you can manually log your activity, this will provide a most accurate information. To manually log your treadmill activity please do the following:

1. Log into
2. Click the "Log Activity" circle near the top of your Dashboard.
3. Click the blue "Browse" link to the right of "Find an Activity to Log".
4. A window will open. On the left side of the window that pops up, you will be able to search for an activity by category. More specific activities will then appear on the right side of the screen. Scroll to the desired activity, then click it once to add it to your activity log.
5. Once you enter the duration and start time of your activity, click the pink "Log Activity" button. Your activity details will be added to your logged activities.

Thanks for your patience with this and do not hesitate to contact us back if we can be of more assistance.

Flor M and the Fitbit Team

Reply directly to this email, or click #805383 to update your case via our online support portal.
Been using the new Flex for a week or so. I am giving up on it.

I figured out the problem --- the Flex doesn't like treadmills. I'm off
by thousands of steps consistently & by comparing both accounts (One -
janet... & Flex - janet....m) I've been able
to pinpoint that even through I make sure to swing my arms, pump them,
make sure not to hold onto bar with the Flex arm, steps just aren't
being counted when I'm on the treadmill at the gym or at my home.

So, I'm going to stick with the One and give up on the Flex.

Really frustrated because I love the idea of wearing it on my arm as
opposed to having to clip something on a belt or bra.

Hello Janet,

Thank you for providing us with your information.

Your replacement black Flex is now being processed. Your confirmation number is 2TNKCWV.

Once your order ships, you will receive a shipping confirmation from our order system. You can view the status of this order by clicking the View Order Status link in the confirmation email. This link also provides your tracking number. You can expect that your order will arrive within 5 - 7 business days from the date of shipment.

Once you receive your replacement, please go to the following help article for instructions on how to set up your replacement device:

Please recycle your defective unit through a local electronics recycling program.

Let us know if you have any additional questions.

Flor M and the Fitbit Team

Reply directly to this email, or click #805383 to update your case via our online support portal.
Thank you very much. Yes, that is the correct information.

Hello Janet,

Thanks for troubleshooting this issue with us.

We are sorry to hear your Flex is not tracking your information properly. We would like to get you back on track with a complimentary replacement.

We see that you purchased your product from the Store. Please confirm the following details:


Once we receive your response, we'll be able to continue with the replacement process.

Flor M and the Fitbit Team

Reply directly to this email, or click #805383 to update your case via our online support portal.
3rd reply (in case you need to look at other responses /connect the
info). Currently my One account (Janet McGregor Dunn2 /
janet.... shows 12,643 steps while the Flex account (Janet
McGregor Dunn / janet@.....) is only reflecting 5,946.
This is AFTER I did the restart of the Flex per instructions below.
I tested the Flex on the treadmill this morning. I walked 2 miles
exactly. I came home from the gym, logged in --- it shows I have walked
1.28 miles this morning (which includes all the extra walking to /from
gym, etc.). I am resetting the Flex right now but wanted to provide that
info before doing so. The One shows 2.52 miles walked. (5768 steps vs
2936 for Flex).

I just set up an account for my One. It's janet..... Janet
McGregor Dunn2. I'll keep it going for a while. Today have only walked
4001 steps per Flex, 4675 per One. That will increase just as soon as
they both finish charging...

I'll reset my Flex when I go to bed. Am a little competitive & my most
competitive friend is kicking my butt at the moment, can't lose a step :-)

Hello Janet,

We are sorry to hear you are still having issues with the accuracy of your Flex.

We would like to know if you have a second account paired to your Fitbit One. If you do, please provide the email address linked to that account so we can check both information.

You can restart your Flex, this should fix any issue it may be experiencing. To restart your Flex please do the following:

1. Plug your charging cable into the USB port and insert your tracker into the charging cable.
2. Insert a paperclip into the small pinhole on the back of the charger.
3. Press the pinhole for 3-4 seconds.
4. If you see lights on your Flex, let it charge for a few hours.

Flex will count your steps when you're walking with your arms stationary, as we do want to give you credit for this activity. This includes walking while pushing a stroller or shopping cart, or holding on to a treadmill. That said, because your hands are not moving, your step count may be a bit lower while you are not moving your hands but you are moving your body.

Let us know if you have additional questions.

Flor M and the Fitbit Team

Reply directly to this email, or click #805383 to update your case via our online support portal.
No, not resolved. We're still communicating.
Hello Janet,

We are sorry to hear that you are still seeing a difference in how many steps your Flex is tracking comparing to your Fitbit One.

We would like to check the account associated with your Fitbit One. Please provide the email address linked to your Fitbit One account. If you do not not have a second account we recommend to open a temporary account to set up your Fitbit One. Once you have both account please wear your trackers for at least a day and compare the information on both Dashboards.

Flex is a motion sensor on your wrist. There are many instances where your hands may be moving, but your body may not be, such as playing the drums, cooking, or even burping a baby. Flex may count some extra steps here and there to give you credit when it thinks you are active.

You can improve the accuracy of your Flex by changing the Dominant Hand setting on your Devices page (, which can be found under the gear icon in the upper right corner of your Dashboard. Changing this setting to "Dominant" will decrease sensitivity of step counting and should reduce the over counting of steps when your body is not moving. Using the "Non Dominant" setting will increase the sensitivity of step counting, and can be used if your Flex is not counting enough steps.

Please let us know if changing these settings doesn't improve the accuracy of your Flex, and we'll be happy to continue investigating the issue.

Flor M and the Fitbit Team

Reply directly to this email, or click #805383 to update your case via our online support portal.
I've been wearing the One on my wrist next to the Flex for two days.

Flex 10003 steps
One 13716 steps

Flex 9609
One 14049

The One is consistently giving me way higher steps than Flex --- also
fairly consistent with what it was doing when the One was on my waist &
Flex on wrist.

Tomorrow I'm going to wear them both on my waist next to each other.

I will do the 100 step test a few times to see if they're close. Given
that's not really going to be the way I walk, run, move through the day
I'm not sure that's really a good gauge or accuracy, but will try to do
a number of different tests, some running, some with more hand motion, etc.

Hello Janet,

We're sorry to hear that you're seeing a difference in how many steps your Flex is tracking comparing to your Fitbit One.

Flex has been tested extensively against our clip-based devices like the Fitbit One and Fitbit Zip. That said, because Flex is specifically designed for your wrist, if you move your body a lot and not your arms (or vice versa), you may get a slight difference in activity than you would see on your clip-based trackers. Additionally, since you’re more likely to wear Flex 24/7, you may count a few more steps.

This is no different than any wrist-based tracker on the market. For most people, there may be no difference at all between clip and wrist based trackers or it may be within a few percentage points difference. That said, if you have a lifestyle where you move your hands a lot such as playing the drums everyday, you may see a few extra steps on your Flex as we do want to give you credit for this activity.

Thanks for checking the settings on your Dashboard, this way you can select which hand you want to wear your tracker. Also, you can perform a test. If you'd like to test your step count, please do the following:

1. Put your Fitbit on your hip or torso.
2. Pause for several moments. (We want to make sure that the mounting of the tracker is not affecting your step count. Pausing should prevent this).
3. Walk 100 steps, making sure to count a step each time one of your feet hits the ground).
4. Pause, then check your tracker to see your step count.

Fitbit trackers should be at least 95% accurate for step counting, which allows for a 5 step margin of error for every 100 steps.

In regard to the Fitbit Connect Software, we believe this issue should be resolved uninstalling and reinstalling the software. You can do this following the instructions available in this link:

Please let us know if these steps did not resolve your issue, and we’ll be happy to troubleshoot further.

Flor M and the Fitbit Team

Reply directly to this email, or click #805383 to update your case via our online support portal.

Original message
I have had my Flex for a week or so. I had/have a One. They are WAY off. I've been wearing both & today they're 4,000 steps apart. The Flex is consistently 1K or more steps less, is not accurately keeping up with steps. I often forget to put the One on when changing clothes so the discrepancy is even further off.

I've been tracking & commenting on the Community board here:

I put it to sleep & wake it up simply by tapping my hands to music when I'm driving. It turns off & on (sleep tracking) as I toss & turn.

I don't really care about the sleep tracking so no biggie. However, the difference in tracking steps is really frustrating.

I've tried changing hands, putting it on my dominate hand while having it set for non-dominate (which got me a bit closer), but I don't want to wear on my dominate hand due to the work I do.

I updated it to see if that might help. No luck. Suggestions? I'm getting ready to give up on it & just go back to the One. It's fairly accurate. I wouldn't mind a few hundred steps off, but this is way, way too many.

One last thing --- for some reason the Fitbit connect pop up is not loading when I start up my computer since getting the Flex --- and every time I use it I have to log in. Then I have to log in when I get to the fitbit website.