Once Fitbitten, twice shy

I hardly ever spring for extended warranty or service plans, but I did get one for a purchase I made in February 2017 — and now I’m glad I did.

In early 2013, back when I was doing electronic device reviews for the T-G, I did a glowing review for one of the early models of Fitbit fitness trackers. This was back before Fitbit was making the now-standard wristbands; the model I reviewed was the type that clipped onto your belt or waistband. I loved it, and hated to return it (it was just a review model).

A few weeks later, a co-worker of my brother Michael — the co-worker owned a Fitbit — decided he wanted a new fitness tracker that Nike or someone was selling, and he basically offered to give the Fitbit away. Michael remembered my review and claimed the Fitbit on my behalf. I enjoyed it, and wore it happily for several months — then I lost it for a few months. Then it turned up unexpectedly, and I happily began using it again. Then, I lost it for good at Bedford County Ag Center during the American Cancer Society Relay For Life. If you didn’t know it was an electronic device, it would look like just a random piece of black plastic.

Fast forward a few years. After talking to my doctor about exercise during an appointment in 2017, he suggested that maybe I go back to using some sort of fitness tracker. On the way home from the doctor’s office, I stopped at Walmart and bought a Fitbit Flex 2 wristband. I liked it; it was basic and functional. The only thing I missed was that my 2013 Fitbit tracked flights of stairs as well as steps, and the Flex 2 didn’t.

A few weeks ago, I noticed that the rubber wristband which housed the little capsule-shaped Fitbit was starting to stretch. The capsule even popped out one day on its own. Ironically, Relay was coming up, and I had visions of losing the Fitbit once more. I ordered a new, replacement wristband — this one blue, instead of black. It did not arrive until after Relay, but that was OK — I managed to keep from losing the Fitbit until the new wristband arrived.

I took the Fitbit, with the snazzy new wristband, to Mountain T.O.P. this past week, and guess what?

You guessed wrong. No, I did not lose the Fitbit at Mountain T.O.P. But I put it on the charger one night and it refused to charge. I am not certain whether the problem is in the Fitbit itself or the USB dongle that you use to charge it. I tried plugging the dongle into a different AC adapter than the one I’d been using, and there was still no charge. I tried cleaning the little terminals on the Fitbit, and still no go.

It occurred to me the next day that I had, in this case, purchased a two-year extended care plan on the Fitbit when I bought it. When I got home from Mountain T.O.P. today, I looked and was pleased to quickly find the receipt and documentation for the Walmart extended care.

I went to the website and put in a report. The site immediately offered to refund my money, no questions asked. I printed out a pre-paid UPS label, and after they receive the Fitbit, they will e-mail me a Walmart e-gift card. (I could also have asked for a check, which would have been sent through the regular mail.) I had to run out and do some post-trip laundry and grocery shopping, so I dropped off the Fitbit at our local UPS pickup point.

Apparently, I can use my gift card as I see fit — but I do intend to use it for a new fitness tracker. I will have to comparison shop a little bit between now and the time I get my gift. I might be able to kick in a little bit and get a nicer model.

Some extended care plans are overpriced and not really necessary, but in this case I seem to have made a wise purchase, in spite of myself. Of course, I also wasted $7.67, after tax, on a new wristband that I only used for a week and a half.