Why I love the Runtastic Moment, and why you should NOT buy one

When I first heard of the Runtastic Moment, it was love at first read. A “semi-smart” watch with an attractive analog face but smarts inside able to track my steps, tell me how active I am and how much I sleep and communicate with my phone to give me alerts. Sure, there was no smart display. But I didn’t want one of those. And the trade off was a smaller body (it looks/feels like a watch) and months of battery life.

I’m not much of an impulse shopper, but bought one on the spot despite vague shipping dates and zero reviews. I waited patiently for months even after receiving no order confirmation (and never did receive an email even alerting me to shipping) and despite having my credit card charged immediately, facts that normally would have been red flags but didn’t even cause me any pause I so wanted this watch. And sure enough it arrived eventually, just as the vague but reassuring customer service person on twitter had promised when I inquired about the lack of confirmation.

The watch lived up to my high expectations. It kept steps evenly with an old Fitbit, looked good on my arm, felt good and caused no rash despite wearing it day and night. I received compliments about it, and recommended it to a number of strangers. The watch would effortlessly sync via bluetooth to software on my phone, allowing me to track my progress on fitness goals and alerting me via an LED light and a buzz vibration when I had a new text or email.

My only real complaint, and it was a small one, was with the software. Runtastic’s smartphone app allows you to access only seven days worth of fitness data. The company, from what I understand, sold software well before hardware and for a software company putting the archives in the premium edition makes perfect sense... You have to make money somehow. But life is different for a hardware company. Few people who spend more than $100 for a wearable want to then pay $4.99 (!) each month to access data generated by that wearable. And more importantly the competition gives such data away for free. Runtastic’s approach seems tone-deaf, and was an annoyance. But it wasn’t enough to make me regret my purchase. Not by a long-shot. I love this watch.

Alas the love affair was a brief one. About three months into my ownership of the watch I was on the road at a hotel with an indoor pool and decided to wear the watch when I went swimming. Runtastic proudly notes on its site “the waterproof watch tracks your every move, whether you’re running in the rain or swimming a few laps” so I thought nothing of jumping in with it on. But it was clear almost immediately that was a terrible mistake.

“The waterproof watch tracks your every move, whether you’re running in the rain or swimming a few laps.” (um)

I wasn’t halfway done a lap of the (very small, very shallow) hotel pool when my beloved watch began to buzz non-stop, the same buzz as when I have a text but this time out of control. The LED initially flashed, and then all went silent. I quickly jumped out of the pool and got the watch off my hand, toweling it off. A ominous fog appeared under the glass. I considered opening it up to try to let it dry but the watch can only be opened with a small screwdriver (one comes in the packaging but I did not have it on the trip). So I put it aside and hoped for the best.

I’m still waiting. Weeks later, my wonderful Runtastic watch still sits frozen on the exact moment I jumped in the pool, 6:54pm, with an embarrassing

My sad, dead semi-smart watch.

number of steps completed on that particular day (hey, I was in the car. That’s why I wanted to swim!)

I’ve tried everything I can think of. When I returned home I opened up the back and let it dry. I changed the battery in hopes that the battery had been fried but the watch could recover. I still randomly press the now-dead button on the side, hoping the watch will spring to life as it did when it first arrived a few months earlier. But the watch, seemingly, is dead.

Lemons happen. And I wouldn’t dare say do not buy this watch simply because I happened to get a bad one. (I can only assume other buyers have had much better luck with their watch and still love their model, as there is little about this anywhere on the Internet.)

My issue is with the company. When the accident first happened I was away from the manual and packaging and not near a laptop. I reached out to Runtastic the only way I could think to, and the way I had reached them successfully before: Via Twitter, asking for advice on what I could do to try to save the watch. Unlike before, I heard nothing. In the days that followed I reached out to customer service via the email address they list on their site, but again no response. I have tried calling an 800 number I found via my credit card, but with no luck. It seems like now that I have a real problem, Runtastic is nowhere to be found.

I don’t know much about Runtastic, other than they apparently are based in Germany and were acquired by Adidas for more than $200 million earlier this year. I don’t think they are crooks or evil or anything like that. Not in the slightest. And again, I adore the product they made, or at least the concept of the product they made, and would dearly love to be wearing it right now as I sit at my computer.

But based on my order experience and the experience I have had in recent weeks, I can’t help but conclude that Runtastic is not a company that is on top of its customer service. And for that reason not a reliable partner. And while $129 is not a major purchase nowadays, it is still enough of a purchase to demand some amount of reliability. Runtastic disappeared when I needed them most.

I really did love my Runtastic Moment. Which is why it so pains me to urge one and all to think twice before buying one.

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