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A couple of years ago, I purchased a treadmill for us to use for exercise purposes.  It's been on and off again use for me, though I was just starting to get back into a regular routine last week when….


The shudder was the machine coming to a near halt while I was running at 6 miles per hour.  The thud was me jumping off and landing on the floor, and the cursing was of course my reaction to both of the events above.

Upon further testing, I could tell that the machine would run only when there wasn't any weight on the belt.  As soon as I put any pressure on the belt, it stopped.

Lucky for me, when I made the purchase, I made the decision to purchase an extended warranty.  Normally, I don't purchase extended warranties.  I think the only time I ever did otherwise that I can remember was when I purchased a 32″ TV back in 1997.  The price that I paid for that item was pretty high for a recent college grad, and I wanted to make sure I was protected.  Note: That TV has been the main TV in my household ever since and still works just fine.

But, back to the treadmill.  I had decided to purchase a three year warranty for the treadmill back when we got it.  Why?  Two reasons:

1) Pretty soon after I got the treadmill, I noticed a couple of problems with it and decided to have it serviced under the standard warranty that was included (which was 90 days).  It wasn't anything major, basically there were some screws that were coming loose that I couldn't tighten, and there was some rattling that I didn't like.  Both were easily fixed, but the fact that I needed service initially raised the odds that I would need future repairs.
2) I actually purchased a lower end unit.  I didn't spend a lot of money on the treadmill.  I think our total was between $400 – $500.  While that's a lot in relative terms, it's actually on the low end for treadmills.  For a mid range unit, expect to pay $700 to $1000, and higher end units can go for $1500 or more.  So, I knew I was getting a barebones model, and figured the old adage ‘you get what you pay for' might come into play.  I guess I looked at it that I could spend $100 or so for the warranty or $500 extra for a better treadmill.  Not sure how dedicated I would actually be to exercising, I went with the cheaper unit.

After I ran into the problem, I called into the warranty company. I panicked wondering if they would even still be in business, but they answered the phone right away and were able to pull up my warranty with no problems.  So far so good.

I explained what had happened, and based on the symptomns, they thought it could be one of a few different things.  The way the company works is that they send out the parts to my house via UPS, and contract it to a local repair shop, who I arrange a visit with once the parts have arrived.

The parts arrived late last week.   Because of my grandma's funeral, I didn't get in contact with the local repair shop until Tuesday.  We set up an appointment for Thursday night (last night).  The repair man came out, took one look at the treadmill and declared it a total loss.

Apparently, the bracket that the motor is attached to needs to be attached to the frame so that the motor is parallel to the frame.  Mine was attached incorrectly, and was thus at a slight angle.  When this happens, the technician explained, it eventually throws pretty much everything off at some point.  It can run for a short or long time, but eventually the incorrect alignment will cause the unit to stop working correctly. He did say that they could do some adjustments that would get it working, but they don't do that because they would only be temporary, and could also create a fire hazard down the road.  Yikes.  I certainly didn't want that.  So, he took some pictures and was on his way without doing anything.

I spoke with the warranty company this morning, and while they hadn't received the report from the technician yet, they did say that once they received his report and verified that they would replace it, I would be receiving information on how to proceed.  They had the price down that I paid for the unit, and mentioned that depending on the circumstances, I might have the option of getting an equivilient unit, applying the price towards a more expensive unit and paying the difference, or in some cases, receiving a refund of what I had paid.

They won't send out the info until they receive the reports, so I don't know which options will be available to me or what would be the best, but so far, everybody seem to be on the up and up as far as honoring the warranty.  I have heard horror stories of getting the runaround with warranty companies, but I haven't gotten the vibe yet that might lead me to be concerned about this (and I have a pretty good sense for it).

Hopefully it all works out.

Stay tuned.