Lifetime Warranty? Thanks for nothing, Pacemaster

Tommy: Let’s think about this for a sec, Ted. Why would somebody put a guarantee on a box? Hmmm, very interesting.
Ted Nelson: Go on, I’m listening.
Tommy: Here’s the way I see it, Ted. Guy puts a fancy guarantee on a box ’cause he wants you to feel all warm and toasty inside.
Ted Nelson: Yeah, makes a man feel good.
Tommy: ‘Course it does. Why shouldn’t it? Ya figure you put that little box under your pillow at night, the Guarantee Fairy might come by and leave a quarter, am I right, Ted?
Ted Nelson: What’s your point?
Tommy: The point is, how do you know the fairy isn’t a crazy glue sniffer? “Building model airplanes” says the little fairy; well, we’re not buying it. He sneaks into your house once, that’s all it takes. The next thing you know, there’s money missing off the dresser, and your daughter’s knocked up. I seen it a hundred times.
Ted Nelson: But why do they put a guarantee on the box?
Tommy: Because they know all they sold ya was a guaranteed piece of [expletive deleted]. That’s all it is, isn’t it? Hey, if you want me to take a dump in a box and mark it guaranteed, I will. I got spare time. But for now, for your customer’s sake, for your daughter’s sake, ya might wanna think about buying a quality product from me.

A shade under five years ago, my wife & I bought a treadmill. To describe the situation more accurately, one would probably say I convinced (conned?) my wife into purchasing a treadmill. As it was a big purchase, I did a lot of researching and determined that the Pacemaster Platinum Pro VR looked to be the best treadmill for our dollar. It went up to 5:00/mile (a big plus for me), it both inclines and declines, and it came with a great warranty (lifetime on frame, 12 years on motor, 5 years on parts). Plus, they had a reputation of making really good machines for a really long time (since the 60s). Their reputation, as a company, was they focus on building high quality treadmills rather than design or features. As I was more focused on having a machine that operated well rather than looked good, it seemed like a perfect fit. I decided on going with the Pacemaster Platinum Pro VR which was their top of the line model.

About six months ago, I was really bummed when I read about a situation where the parent company for Pacemaster essentially filed for bankruptcy, fired all their employees, and moved to Canada – all with little to no warning. That great warranty that I had was now completely null and void. Thankfully, up until that point, I hadn’t needed any service as the machine had been rock solid.

Until last week.

I was running on my treadmill and it started wobbling like crazy. After a few minutes, I noticed a burning rubber smell. I looked down and saw my treadmill walking belt was fraying to the left. I was bummed as I knew it meant I was going to have to replace my treadmill belt (which I knew wouldn’t be cheap). Upon further review, though, I noticed a giant crack in the bottom of my treadmill frame. I was super bummed because I knew my treadmill was completely out of service with no idea how I was going to get parts.

It also got me really upset at Pacemaster because I spent a big chunk of change on their product and felt like I got completely hung out to dry when they moved to Canada and decided not to honor their warranties. I know a lot of people dread running on the treadmill, but I’ve been logging big miles on treadmills for nearly 10 years now. I quite enjoy setting the treadmill and rocking out a good 8-10 mile run while watching basketball. In fact, I was getting excited that the NBA season is starting in one short week. There is nothing better to watch on the treadmill than soccer games or basketball games. I can easily watch a game in about 1 hr, 15 minutes which is a fantastic workout. In fact, I was planning on running 3 mornings, 2 evenings, and hopefully on the weekends – mostly on the treadmill while watching basketball. I contacted the company where I bought the treadmill and they were of no help although they offered to give me a whopping $200 off a treadmill. They also offered to buy a new Pacemaster treadmill – sans any warranty, of course – at a great deal (presumably because it’s hard to sell a treadmill that comes with ZERO warranty whatsoever).

Honestly, I was down in the dumps.

Thankfully, someone directed me to I spoke with a guy name Mike and another guy named Keith. From what I understand, both were former engineers for Pacemaster who were let go once the company moved to Canada. They’ve since started up a company to service PaceMaster treadmills. They were completely helpful in figuring out which parts I needed to repair. I knew the walking belt needed to be replaced, but thankfully I found out the piece of the frame that broke is only an $80 part. So, I’m honestly out about $80 more than I should thanks to the lack of a warranty (since the belt wouldn’t have been covered anyway).

I often will complain to friends/family/whoever will listen when I have a bad customer service experience. On the contrary, Mike & Keith from PaceMaster Service (or more appropriately Pro-Fitness Services) answered my questions easily and with expertise. In just a few short minutes, I could understand why Pacemaster did have a good reputation with employees like this. They got my parts order placed quickly and hopefully I’ll be seeing those parts later this week. They said if I have any questions installing the parts to give them a call and they’ll either help me out over the phone or connect me with someone who can help.

This has proven to be a very frustrating and expensive experience, however it looks like it’s hopefully going to resolve itself thanks to the guys at PaceMaster Service. I don’t say it often enough, but thanks for the good customer service. Hopefully I’ll be back on the treadmill by this time next week watching Kevin Love catch alley oops from Ricky Rubio JJ Barea flop.