NordicTrack’s Commercial VR Bike Sale: Why it Failed with Me!

by John Zajaros on February 14, 2011

The NordicTrack Commerical VR Recumbent Bike: A Shipping and Handling Disaster

I recently decided to invest in a recumbent bike. Over the past 2 years my schedule has gone from what I might call leisurely to what I must call very crowded. Heck, some days swamped is more accurate!

Consequently, as my business grew, and the demands on my time doubled, so did my waistline…or at least it seemed that way to me!

So, a few days ago I decided to take the plunge and invest in a recumbent bike. I felt I could use the bike in my home office. I am always reading and watching videos as part of an ongoing self-education program. I often spend time reading or reviewing material online in order to prepare for clients I am hired to work with. I also prepare for students I coach, mentor, and tutor.

The time savings, even just the drive time alone, seemed more than enough to justify the purchase. Additionally, if I add in all the other wasted moments commuting to and from the gym, it’s simply a no-brainer!

Add to the above-mentioned time savings the convenience of being able to work out when I want? No longer having to worry about whether or not the gym is open? Putting away once and for all the thoughts about time limits? Never having to worry about the availability of aerobic fitness machines when I arrived…in my case the recumbent bikes?

The idea not only had legs, it was a done deal…sign me up!

NordicTrack's Customer Service Failure: An Empathetic Let Down

NORDICTRACK COMMERCIAL VR BIKE (NTEX13808): A Huge Mistake

Now, keep in mind that as recently as August of 2008 I really wasn’t sure how much longer I was even going to be around.

Really!

As I began my fight for life, and no I am not being melodramatic, a $25 per month gym membership was at about the top of my budget allotment for fitness expenses.

Consequently, I owned a month-to-month gym membership in a very “quaint” little iron gym. Yes, I am being facetious. And yes, I did like it very much. Why? Because I felt alive again!

I also owned a good pair of walking shoes; and they were invaluable! Take care of your feet…always!

And, I partnered with a super walking companion…a Bull Mastiff trapped in a Puggle’s body, a little guy named TuffGuy!

Many of you know the rest of the story!

Back to the NordicTrack Commerical VR Recumbent Bike

A few days ago I had all but completed the online ordering process for the recumbent bike I believed would best fit the bill. Interestingly, the NordicTrack Commerical VR Recumbent Bike was on sale, marked down more than 50%! How could I pass up such a great price?

I’ll tell you how!

I got to the NordicTrack Commerical VR Recumbent Bike Shipping Options page and was floored. Here are NordicTrack’s shipping and assembly options:

From Free to Platinum: NordicTrack's Shipping and Assembly Revealed

NordicTrack's Delivery Service Options: From Free to Platinum - NordicTrack's Shipping and Assembly Revealed

Well, I stopped the order process right then and there…before it was ever completed!

$239 for NordicTrack to deliver and assemble the recumbent bike I was going to pay over $700 for?

I was incredulous! And it wasn’t about the money, really. It was the idea that I was going to buy something and then paying half-again as much for someone to walk it into my house and assemble it. A complex mechanical machine weighing close to 500 pounds and they were going to drop it on my porch and leave for $99?

Again, I was incredulous!

Incredibly, I mentioned it online a few times and the only message I got was a @Mention on Twitter that included the following:

NordicTracklive NordicTrack
@JohnZajaros

That was it…the entire message!

Today I received a canned offer from NordicTrack, a failed or incomplete order follow-up, no doubt. I have copied it below (a Dear John letter!):

Dear John,

Thank you for visiting us online store recently. We noticed that you left something in your cart without
placing your order, and we wanted to make sure that you didn’t experience any problems
with our ordering system.

Sometimes glitches happen, and we don’t want want to let that get in the way of our
customer’s satisfaction.

For that reason, we are happy to offer you a 10% discount on your entire order.
This offer is good until 02/18/2011.

To make it easier to redeem your discount click this link to go back to your shopping cart
enter NTSAVE10 in the Redeem Promotion Code box.

One item that is currently in your cart:

NordicTrack Commercial VR Bike
(NTEX13808) FREE SHIPPING (NOT!)

DON’T FORGET!

We offer FREE SHIPPING on most orders above $499.
We offer a 30 day, risk free trial on all of our machines.

We look forward to seeing you online again soon!

Sincerely,
XXXXX XXXXX (name removed as a show of respect for the specialist’s privacy)
Customer Service Specialist

Guess what I did? I tried again!

Hey, I wanted the recumbent bike and I felt if they were going to throw in the shipping and give me another 10% off? I’d take a look at their offer!

I should have saved my time!

Here was my final reply, as I am done and disgusted with NordicTrack:

To Whom This May Concern:

I tried once again to order.

1) I was fast tracked and my total went from $599 to $694 without explanation on the shopping cart…and if it was tax it was not labeled as such!
2)I typed in the 10% savings but given the new $694 charge? I wondered what I was saving 10% on…and why the bump?
3) Your stock email follow-up states that I am entitled to Free Shipping. The code provided under the bike name was invalid.
4) Then, the only shipping options I was provided started at $99 and went up to the aforementioned and ridiculous $239…no free lunch here! And certainly no free shipping offered!

Given the difficult nature of the ordering process and the extremely pricey shipping options? I think I will pass! Not to mention the fact that the recumbent bike I was going to order was already supposed to be “off the table” at that price.

Was the sale was extended?

Good fortune for those still interested in the NordicTrack Commercial VR Recumbent Bike! But I wonder how many people who purchased the bike a few days ago, feeling they had to make a decision or lose the discounted price, feel hoodwinked? And hoodwinked is expressing what many may feel mildly.

How in the world can NordicTrack justify a shipping option that more or less says that if you pay us $99 we’ll drop your 200 pound plus machine off at the front door? Not in the front door but outside the front door?

You are offering items to men and women in various states of “disrepair!”

The fact that NordicTrack bumps the price in this manner? Just to bring it in the door and put it together? The common courtesy of bringing it through the front door costs over $100?

To bring the NordicTrack Commerical VR Recumbent Bike in and assemble it costs close to 50% of the sale price of the bike?

You have got to be kidding!

NordicTrack’s shipping and assembly policy is absolutely the worst one I have come across in over half a century! I am 56 years old and I have been purchasing items online and via direct mail for most of my adult life. I have never come across anything like this from a company like NordicTrack.

A sales price with a bump of almost 50% just to deliver it and set it up?

Reprehensible!

You are selling big ticket items, particularly given the present state of the economy. You are also selling a complex piece of machinery that weighs anywhere from a couple of hundred pounds up to more than a quarter of a ton. And you charge extra to have two men carry it over the threshold? Never mind assemble it? And in light of the age and “disrepair” of many of your clients?

Once again, that is reprehensible!

Well good luck to you. I won’t be one of your clients any time soon. However, I might write about my experience as this has been both edifying and, in spite of a certain amount of frustration, quite interesting.

Sincerely,

Professor John P. J. Zajaros, Sr.

PS, Just a suggestion. I would have happily paid $240 more on the retail side for the product I wanted and needed…particularly if it included what you refer to as “NordicTrack Platinum Shipping!” So much for marketing…never mind presentation and packaging. Someone really dropped the ball on this one! But then exercise balls really aren’t your thing…are they?

What more can I say? This is why so many people quit on their way through the shopping cart-sales process! Someone really dropped the ball and thought they could bump someone on the back end and make up for a portion of the front-end incentive. How much more wrong could NordicTrack possibly be?

NordicTrack has obviously never heard of the Law of 250!

Comments? I would love to hear about similar experiences or get your take on the process described above!

Thank you for taking the time to read the article above…and please comment and pass it along!

John Zajaros

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

William Crozer February 14, 2011 at 7:26 pm

I just saw your blog post about Nordictrack. I recently got a Nordictrack 9500 delivered and was wondering the same thing about the shipping. I got the standard shipping for my machine. When it came, I talked to the UPS guy that delivered it and he said it is UPS’ policy to not go inside of people’s houses, which is why it lands on your doorstep like every other UPS package. As near as I can figure, if Nordictrack ships through someone else, they won’t have the same economy of scale as UPS would.

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admin February 16, 2011 at 4:18 pm

But they do offer enhanced shipping. Why not build it in instead of using the dated practice of the upsell…previously called the bump. It always leaves a bad taste in people’s mouths and is not a very smart way to do business.

Additionally, and I don’t know what kind of shape you are in or what your experience is assembling things, but many of the people attempting to get back into shape may have weight, blood pressure, back, and other health problems that would make yanking a 200-500 pound piece of equipment into the house almost impossible without roping friends and family in to help out!

It’s just not good business. It’s like the old “dealer prep” charge car dealers used to tack on after the sale was made…sometimes the dealer prep constituted hundreds, if not thousands of additional dollars for the dealer and always made the customers feel as if they had been taken.

Thanks for the comment William! BTW, how do you like your 9500?

Take care!

John

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wayne February 16, 2011 at 10:21 pm

I was looking at this bike earlier today on the nordictrack website. More for curiosity sake, ya know before the sale ended. I too was shocked when I looked at the shipping options 250+ to get it assembled and put in is outrageous. I also looked for the weight of the bike on the website but it was not listed on the web copy. It is an important detail that a customer might accidentally overlook when buying this machine. I guess it shows up further in the buying process right before you pull the trigger. Its a nice looking bike and I liked that it had a high weight limit about 50lbs higher than most brands (I looked at the schwinn 240 recumbent bike, liked it, but the 300lb weight limit is too low for me right now). Thanks for the post.

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admin February 17, 2011 at 4:47 am

Wayne,

They do have the spec listed. I think the VR is approximately 400 pounds. I also looked a another, lesser bike and it was approximately 200…if I remember correctly. As with you, though, the upsell on the back end was the deal killer. I even mentioned it to my doctor this evening, I still have to see him once a month just to make sure nothing sneaks up on me, and he was surprised…to say the least.

You know, it is not about the money. I pay $50 to a great kid I know just to shovel my driveway. It is the idea that a company would sell an item for several hundred dollars and then not even deliver it into my house and assemble it!

Nope!

I have spent far too many Christmases putting together toys to bite on that one!

Thanks for the comment Wayne and best of luck to you!

John

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William Crozer February 17, 2011 at 4:32 pm

I love our new NordicTrack treadmill! The best feature is the iFit which is really motivating to stay on top of workouts. We can also use it to create customized routes on Google maps and download it to the treadmill via wifi. My favorite workout is one I created that goes through Times Square. We’ve become big fans of Biggest Loser, so having Jillian Michaels as our trainer through iFit is pretty cool too.

I just reread your post and feel lost about the point you’re making. Is your point that it is too much for assembly and delivery or is it that you didn’t know how much those costs would be until after you were in the shopping cart? Did you expect it to come pre-assembled? I’m confused. It sounds like you had a bad experience with their service too which I’m sure happens since it is a big company. I haven’t had any problems with service or the machine and would certainly buy one again.

When I was shopping around, I looked at a lot of the other brands (Schwinn, Sole and Sears) and learned that shipping and assembly was between $200 and $255 for these guys too. (I like using the web to try and save the most money possible so I can get a better product. I always use Hotwire or Priceline when I travel.) For assembly, I found someone on Craigslist to assemble the machine and bring it upstairs to he bedroom for me. He took the machine piece by piece to the room. One of them was probably 100 lbs, so for two people it wasn’t too bad to handle. He wanted $150 but I got him down to $100 and I took advantage of a free shipping promotion from NordicTrack, so I spent $100 total for assembly and delivery.

If you didn’t buy the NordicTrack, which machine are you buying instead? Have you thought about buying a used machine from Craigslist or EBay? I think the benefits of the exercise will out weigh the trials you’re facing now.

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Sandy August 10, 2011 at 9:37 pm

This machine was on sale this weekend, and is still on sale or on sale again. This does not surprise me since I researched the item months ago and it was on sale then also. I was concerned about being able to get the bike in the house and assembled. The salesperson on the “chat” told me it weighed only 130 pounds. Is this correct or not?

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Ib September 6, 2011 at 5:44 am

What a shame, I called Nordic Track to purchase the C1715 Treadmill and the rep said, the orgianl price for it is higher $200 than the price listed in their website, and because today is “labour day”, It’s for $1499. So, he is basically saying this is the only day where I can get the treadmill with $200 discount.
But the truth is, I have been checking their web site almost everyday for 2 months. And the original price never changed and always has been $1499. This experience with that costumer rep was so unprofessional. An other down side, they don’t have assembly service in Canada. It’s disappointing.

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Allan September 16, 2011 at 3:22 am

Reebok RX 4.0 is the same recumbent, built by the same company. I’ve seen it on sale at costco for $499. a month or two ago. I’ve received the same 10% off $799 offer from Nordictrac after leaving the order incomplete. My concern with the VR is from reviews in part. Both Reebook & Nordictrac VR have the same or simplier reviews: seat stiff, seat wrong angle, seat not comfortable, fan doesn’t hit you in the face, if yor’re approximately six feet tall or taller your knees will hit the hand grips, difficult for some to swing their leg over center. The SOLE R92 runs approximately $200 more but I’ve found good reviews about it. No negative comments on the Sole 92. Hate to part with another $200 but it may be worth it. If it’s comfortable your likely to use it. SOLE puts their equipment in large Hotel chains. Anyhow I’m not sold on Nordictrac VR. I do not agree with the “Commercial” label on this recumbent. I do not believe it is commercial/gym quality. I don’t believe Nordictrac should attempt to deceive the general public with the Commercial lable for sales sake.

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Demme December 6, 2011 at 5:58 pm

I had a similar experience but with added aggravation,.. I was really excited because I wanted to add more calorie burning to my day without adding more time on my feet, so I decided to invest in a really good bike. It was my birthday so I asked my husband for the norditrack vr commercial. I shopped online saw that it was on sale for 699.00 for Halloween. So I ordered it and took the 99.00 delivery option that dropped the bike off inside the house. Without unpacking it. When they delivered it the box looked like it was previously opened. We mentioned it to the delivery men and wrote it on the paperwork and made a copy for ourselves before they left. I gave t a day before I tackeled puting it together. It literally took me 6 hours. You really need two people to do it. When I was finally done I didnt get on it because I was totally tired by then. The next day I got on it to work out and put the resisitance up and it didnt work. I called the company and the representative told me that I was lucky and someone would come in to fix it in my house for free..HAAA!! can you believe it?? I was lucky that my brand new bike wasn\’t working. Then I told her what was wrong she gave me some numbers andtold me when the part got there that I had to call the number. They said they were overnighting it but that wasnt true. It took 7 days for the part to come. So now my bike was in my home for about 2 weeks and I couldnt use it. I called the company techs and they told me that Norditrack said they made a mistake and they needed another part with that so they ordered it yesterday and I would have to wait 7 days for that part to come and to call them. So we are talking 21 days so far with the bike in my house and I can\’t use it. The part came and it was 2 days before Thanksgiving. The techs could not give me an earlier appointment than December 1, 2011. The technician comes in on December 1, 2011 and tells me that the rep made a huge mistake and they need another part so I call Norditrack company to see if they would send me a new bike and take this lemon back. Guess what?? They say they cannot take the bike back because the 30 days are passed and that they would be more than happy to get a technician to fix the existing bike in my home. ARE YOU SERIOUS?? I TELL THEM…

No come and pick the damn thing up! I don\’t want it I want a new bike that literally cost me 846.00 with shipping, plus I bought a 5 yr warranty for 310.00 and some I fit cards for the bike.. The aggravation I got was so not worth it and the company was so not bussiness oriented. I would have taken a new bike that actually worked and would have been more than happy.. Well finally I called the company to take it they tried to get away with telling me that my 30 days had passed but I totally went off on them and showed them that they were wrong. I had to take the damn thing apart again and put it into the box. Thank god I never threw it away.. Good Luck to anyone doing bussiness with this company..

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