After SNEWS got an anonymous call about a customer who ordered an elliptical trainer from Smooth Fitness’ website in mid-November, had the credit card charged and still hadn’t received the product as of Dec. 18, we ran the automatic response messages we received (which are pasted below).
But we'd like to update you with a statement from Smooth Fitness President Rich Herbert, which we received via email on Dec. 20, after we ran a story on the situation.
InternetFitness.com, Inc., the owner of SmoothFitness.com, struggling under the weight of a heavy debt load incurred in a leveraged buyout some years ago, defaulted on its loans to its secured lenders and was forced to suspend operations toward the end of November. The secured lender foreclosed on substantially all of the assets of InternetFitness.com, Inc. pursuant to the Uniform Commercial Code.
Smooth Fitness LLC, an entity not in any way affiliated with InternetFitness.com, Inc., purchased certain assets at the foreclosure sale to form the nucleus of a new company. Smooth Fitness LLC was formed by Larsen MacColl Partners, a private investment firm based in Pennsylvania. Smooth Fitness LLC will be operating the business from this point forward, under new ownership and management.
Smooth Fitness is open for business and remains committed to (a) continuing to design and produce innovative high quality fitness equipment sold directly to consumers at exceedingly affordable prices, and (b) providing excellent service to customers, including prompt fulfillment of orders and assisting customers with technical/service questions and issues.
When SNEWS attempted to get in touch with Smooth a few weeks ago, we received two separate automatic messages in return — one on Dec. 12 and another on Dec. 18.
Automatic reply from Smooth Fitness’ Linda Manfredi sent Dec. 12, 2012:
To Our Valued Smooth Fitness Customers:
During the past several weeks, Smooth Fitness experienced a number of events that had a significant impact on our ability to fulfill our obligations to our customers. We’d like to explain these events to you, and tell you what Smooth Fitness is doing to address your concerns.
As you may have seen or read in the news, a strike of unionized dock workers in the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, CA effectively shut down those major import facilities, dramatically slowing the arrival of shipments from abroad, including products destined for Smooth Fitness customers. A settlement has now been reached with more than 10,000 union members and work is expected to resume immediately. However, product deliveries are being affected still for a short time while the backlog of shipments entering through these ports is cleared. Product is arriving to us daily. In addition to the direct impact of the dock strike, operations at Smooth Fitness have been interrupted temporarily while the business is negotiating a new financial agreement with our suppliers and investors to provide the company with the financial wherewithal to continue to manufacture the best quality home fitness equipment in the industry at an unbeatable price! We wish to continue our efforts to take advantage of any opportunities to bring you the latest in innovative fitness products. We regret that this negotiation necessitated a temporary suspension of our customer service capabilities, and are pleased that we expect these services will be fully restored in the near future.
At this time and now that the strike has finally ended, product is moving again. We are working diligently to fulfill all orders in time for the holidays and we hope to be ready to assist you shortly with any questions you may have about your purchase. We will be sending you email with tracking information shortly with your order tracking and sending your order “expedited delivery” to arrive in 7-9 business days. In addition we anticipate that our technicians will again be ready to respond to requests for service on your existing equipment soon.
As we have been for more than 25 years, Smooth Fitness is committed to bringing you the best quality home fitness equipment in the industry, backed by the best in customer service. We thank you for your patience and understanding during this brief disruption. Please accept our sincerest apologies for any inconvenience you have or will endure as a result of our situation but please trust that we promise to ship your product as quickly as possible.
Best wishes for a happy holiday season and a healthy and fit new year.
Your Smooth Fitness Customer Care Team
Yesterday, the Smooth Fitness website showed its products listed as on sale again, with slashed prices. So we tried calling and emailing again. No personal responses from the company, but another automatic response email message. When we called, it was a different recorded message saying the company was experiencing a high volume of calls but emailing the customer service department would warrant a response.
Below is the second automatic reply message, which says the company is transitioning to new ownership and assuring customers they will receive the products they ordered eventually.
Automatic reply from Smooth Fitness’ Linda Manfredi sent Dec. 18, 2012:
To Our Valued Customers:
Over the last two weeks our business has been transitioning to new ownership and management, with vast resources now committed to (a) continuing to design and produce innovative, high-quality fitness equipment sold directly to consumers at exceedingly affordable prices, and (b) providing an excellent customer experience. Smooth Fitness remains 100% committed to satisfying all previously-placed orders and assisting our customers with technical/service issues that may arise.
We are accepting and promptly fulfilling orders. In addition, our Sales, Customer Service and Technical Support phone lines and email boxes are open to assist you. While we will make every effort to answer your questions as quickly as possible, please be aware that we are experiencing unusually heavy volumes of inquiries that will cause longer hold times and delays in responding to emails; we want to assure you that every inquiry will be answered. We apologize for the delays in responding to inquiries. As we bring on more staff in coming days, response times will improve and we ask for your patience.
Orders already placed are being expedited and shipped daily; you may have received email tracking information and, if so, your product will be delivered within 7-9 business days of receipt of that email. If you have not yet received the tracking information via email, you will within the next week as product continues to arrive at our warehouse and is prepared for shipment. Once you receive your tracking email, you can monitor your order’s progress on-line using the link in the email to the web-based delivery system.
If you have previously reported via phone or email a warranty/service issue with your equipment, please know that we have your request and will respond as quickly as possible; there is no need to contact us again. We promise that your needs will be completely taken care of in due course.
We thank you for your patience and understanding during the transition of ownership of our business. We can assure you that the new owners and management of Smooth Fitness are fully dedicated to caring for the needs of all of our customers, past, present and future.
Your Smooth Fitness Customer Care Team