Part Two: A small Investigation Into WeightNot

This is part two, of a two part series on the WeighFit activity tracker.  In this article, I investigate the company behind WeightNot and we see where that takes me.Part 1 is available here. 

 

I must confess. I started to get really interested in the story of the WeighFit. Here’s a product I came across in my small rural town at a large dollar store chain. I’m sure there was lots of man hours that went into the design and creation of the device, now it just sits as basically surplus. – or so I thought. When I first thought of this I pictured senior management types in Bethesda Maryland at WeightNot cooking up a new product for their fitness/nutrition company. I pictured meetings and conference calls, scouting for manufacturers in China, engineers going over the design, etc. But…

At first I tried to find out more about the WeighFit itself. It’s remarkable how unremarkable the WeighFit fared in the world. There are only two pages of Google results for this device while searching the terms WeightNot and WeighFit together (WeighFit is too generic). The relevant links almost all pointed at the WeightNot site (remember how they said they weren’t selling it anymore?). One user on a commerce site called Poshmark was selling one for $11. I found a blog post from the company announcing the product from 2016
.On Ebay there was zero results and there was no results on Amazon either. This device is a ghost.
That could’ve been the end of my adventure, but no.

 

J-Style Pro Connection
I found it odd that a third party app “J-Style Pro” just happens to work so seamless with the WeighFit. So I did some research, J-Style Pro belongs to a company called Joint Chinese Ltd, and guess what they make? Lots and lots of health products, most notably wearable activity trackers. I found some of their offerings on a wholesale marketplace website called HKTDC.

Basically I suspected that WeightNot purchased a turnkey device from Joint Chinese and just slapped their logo on it. I had to find the model offering from Joint Chinese to confirm my hunch. HKTDC had some similar models, but nothing exactly the same as the WeighFit.

So I went to the Joint Chinese website. While looking at their product offerings I found an item that looked like an exact match to the WeighFit. It is called “ J-Style BLE 4.0 Wristband Activity Monitor It has the model number “1303”. I tried to search up items with that model number, but I really only came across FCC filings. Asides from the branding the WeighFit looks exactly like the 1303 that was tested by the FCC.

So next up: I searched “J-Style BLE 4.0 Wristband Activity Monitor”. A couple links down was a page from Alibaba. From the photos on that site, it is basically 99% certain that this device is the WeighFit. In fact I noticed that some of the pictures depicting the WeighFit are the exact same as the pictures advertising the 1303 on Alibaba. Take a look for yourself, The one WeighFit Photo shows “95236” steps displayed on the screen, the 1303 from Joint Chinese on the Alibaba page shows “95236”. Other pictures on the WeighFit product page look exactly the same as the ones on the Alibaba pages. In some cases the only difference is that the WeighNot pages has a photo-shopped “WeighFit” plastered on the watch band.

The price on Alibaba? $5, with a minimum order of 1,000 units.

Let’s assume WeightNot procured the WeighFit for $5/unit, they turned around and sold them for $50 for members and $70 for non-members.  The mark-up is huge, for members they paid ten times the amount that WeightNot paid for the devices.  But we can’t know for sure how much WeightNot paid for the devices.  But I think it’s fairly reasonable they probably paid $5-$15.

I’m fairly convinced that WeightNot decided to offer an additional product to their members, I haven’t seen much evidence to suggest that this product was really designed to be sold to the general public, based on the fact that their app required you to be an active member to login. They went and found something easy, they came across Joint Chinese. Probably spent a few thousand and bought up a bunch of units. The units probably sold pretty poorly and WeightNot offloaded them as surplus. Dollarama went looking for more products to line it’s shelves and came across pallets of WeighFit trackers. The rest is really history.

But I wasn’t satisfied. What kind of company is WeightNot anyways? The company that says it doesn’t sell the WeighFit, but then has a web page selling the WeighFit. Is WeightNot a scam?  A predatory company? A small mom and pop store that doesn’t know how to update their “web zones”.

What about WeightNot as a company?

As I mentioned before WeightNot is a company in Bethesda Maryland. I would describe their product as weigh loss consultancy.  They seem to provide regimes for members and provide support from their staff  . Services appear to cost anywhere from $4 to $12 a day. With some users indicating there are minimum periods of time (i.e., 1 up to 6 months). As we can see this can easily amount to thousands of dollars. It should also be noted that WeightNot re-branded itself as HIP in late 2017.  They maintain two separate websites, but they basically say the same thing, using nearly word for word the same pitch and show the same before/after pictures of their customers.  Why they do not just set up a redirect from the orginal site to the new one, is beyond me.  But again, they still apparently are selling the WeighFit even though it has been discontinued.

Dieting isn’t my usual beat, but I did look at some reviews of their services. It would be unfair to say it has universal disdain, but it does attract a vocal group WeightNot detractors.

The website “Diets in Review” gives WeightNot a poor score of 1.5 stars. It is critical of the opaque nature of WeightNot and is critical of the manner that WeightNot conducts it’s business – long expensive contracts and the impossibility of getting refunds.

The website Pissed Consumer has nine reviews for WeightNot and has an average 2.6 stars. According to the website, many people did not like the “hidden nonrefundable policy”. Multiple reviews were critical of the activity tracker (most likely the WeighFit, but it is never explicitly mentioned).

WeightNot also has 9 complaints against it according to the Better Business Bureau. The crux of most of the complaints have to be involving money. WeightNot has responded to most of the complaints.  The responses appear to professional and cordial.

Another review on consumercompare.com parrots the previous complaints and says it’s not worth it.

Some reviewers indicated that they had some success using WeightNot and would recommend it.  Only a few articles are written about WeightNot and at best they are neutral towards the service.

The main complaints are: expensive, the details of the plans are not well explained to people, or not made available till just prior to signing contracts. The details and pricing is not really available on the website. I did see “$10” a day quoted on their website, but there was no accompanying qualifying information – such as minimum program commitments, etc. This would appear to be intentional – it’s basically just another “call for price”.  WeightNot wants to get you on the phone to try sell you right then and now.

Social Media Presence, something fishy

There isn’t a lot of information available about WeightNot online, at best maybe only two or three pages of Google results. So when I visited their Facebook page I was stunned to see over 700,000 likes.  This caused me to analyze their social media presence:

Twitter:  2,711 Tweets, 354 followers, 3 likes.

YouTube: 195 subscribers, 17,799 views

Pinterest: 896 followers

Linkedin: 575 followers  on WeightNot/ 546 followers on the HIP page

Facebook: 756,640 likes , 734,761 followers

See something strange here?  The Facebook page has way more followers than any of their other platforms.  There is also something else to consider: none of their recent posts have any significant amount of actual engagement.  Most recent posts have 5-15 likes and at best and one or two comments. One or two posts showing members before/after pictures are the only posts that generated 50-100 likes.  It would seem by basic analysis that it is possible that someone has engaged in “fake like” manipulation on the WeightNot page.  The “real” amount of likes could only be possibly 1,000 – 5,000 likes given the amount of engagement. This could make a company seem seedy and underhanded.  It is a slight of hand to make a company look more popular (and thus more valued) than it really is.

What is it like to work at WeightNot?

A great way to peak into the functionality of a company is to check employee reviews.

The Glassdoor review page for WeightNot paints a mixed portrait for line staff embedded at WeightNot. While, WeightNot maintain overall good scores on Glassdoor, a spat of recent negative reviews has the CEO Paul Amoruso in the ring writing point by point rebuttals. One particular response was especially condescending with this:

. We know that especially for someone with relatively little work experience it can be difficult to receive performance feedback and be held accountable for results and work quality, and that a basic forty hour work week might seem overwhelming —  “ – Paul Amoruso

As a passing spectator we don’t really know the full story here.  But that particular passage comes off as fairly condescending.

There are also reviews on Ineed by former employees, an average score of two stars for WeightNot (albeit only 3 reviews).

Some complaints portrayed the company as a glorified call centre, with jobs being nearly all focused on sales. Even some of the positive reviews indicated that there was a lot of pressure to sell.

As another fun side note. On Mr. Amoruso’s Linkedin, he has listed two “company websites” WeightNot – HIP and another one called Reveal Spa. When I click on the link for Spa Reveal it takes me to “Reveal Search has evolved”. This appears to be that his former web domain went up for sale and someone else bought it (Reveal sounds like it could be a valuable domain).  However, we see a habit, perhaps a corporate culture of neglecting web links.  It’s a bad look, but not the end of the world

I tried to look up this spa.  I found a Reveal MedSpa downtown Washington DC.  It has since closed according to Yelp and carries a score of 1.5 stars.  Price range is described as “pricey”.  A certain Paul. A responded to some of the comments (to his credit most of this comments I see of his, are usually fairly professional and level headed). I suspect that “Paul A” is Paul Amoruso CEO of WeightNot and it appears that Reveal MedSpa was a former business venture of his.

Doing a full review of WeighFit is out of scope for this article, I provided a few review sites where members and former members discussing their experiences with WeightNot.  I do not have any first hand experience, and for their high costs I would not personally consider the service. Reviews indicate that this program is basically just another low calorie diet, the guiding principle is pretty straight forward: calories in, calories out, like a budget ledger. Which to me, it sounds like WeightNot does not resort to kooky new age pseudoscience.  But it seems that WeightNot might have an overbearing corporate culture solely predicated on reaping huge sums of profits.  Again, I have to point back to user reviews, most reviews indicate the high price of the product.  Given the defunct company: Reveal MedSpa that was also criticized of having high prices, I would say this corporate culture emanates from it’s leadership.

This being said, if anyone has any comments, relating to the WeighFit, the company WeightNot, or Joint Chinese, leave them in the comment section, or drop me a message on the contact page.

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