Skechers will be paying refunds to toning shoe buyers following false-advertising allegations.
Touting the benefits of its Shape-Ups and other toning shoes, Skechers USA Inc. utilized celebrity endorsements from the likes of Hall of Fame quarterback, Joe Montana, and reality star Kim Kardashian who claimed the products enabled him to improve his strength and posture and her to get rid of her personal trainer, said The LA Times. Other shoes involved are Resistance Runners, Toners and Tone-Ups.
Federal and state officials disagreed with the claims saying the rocker-bottom and other toning shoes didn’t live up to promises. Now, Skechers will be pay $50 million to settle false-advertising allegations by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the attorneys general of 44 states and the District of Columbia. The bulk of the fine will cover partial refunds to customers who shelled out $60 – $100 a pair for shoes they were led to believe could get them curves of Kardashian’s or the body of the middle-aged former football star, noted The LA Times. Information about the refunds is available at http://www.ftc.gov/skechers.
“Unfortunately, for the millions of people who bought Skechers toning shoes, the only thing that got a workout was their wallet,” David Vladeck, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, told the LA Times. Skechers officials vehemently denied the allegations, saying they settled to avoid “the exorbitant cost and endless distraction of several years spent defending multiple lawsuits in multiple courts across the country,” according to The LA Times. “The company has received overwhelmingly enthusiastic feedback from literally thousands of customers who have tried our toning shoes for themselves and have written unsolicited testimonials about their positive experiences,” Skechers President Michael Greenberg said.
Federal and state officials tell a different story. “When comparing its toning footwear to standard fitness shoes, Skechers put its foot in its mouth by making unproven claims that its toning footwear strengthened muscles, increases weight loss, reduces body fat and improves circulation and aerobic conditioning,” Vladeck told The LA Times.
Skechers agreed to pay $40 million to settle the FTC allegations, $5 million to settle state allegations, and $5 million in class-action legal fees. Skechers is barred from making claims about the benefits of its toning shoes unless they are truthful and backed by scientific evidence, said The LA Times. According to the FTC, research studies cited by Skechers had defects, such as falsely reporting results. “They said that people lost weight when, in fact, they gained weight,” Vladeck said.
The LA Times said that the Skechers payout is approximately twice that of Reebok International Ltd., which recently settled similar FTC claims for about $25 million over allegations it falsely claimed its toning shoes strengthened muscles.
Injuries caused by Skechers Shape-Ups or Tone-Ups toning shoes range from twisted ankles and torn ligaments and muscles to hip fractures and have been reported after falls while wearing the shoes with unbalanced soles and after prolonged wearing of them. Other injuries linked to toning shoes include shin splints and sprained and broken ankles. The American Council on Exercise, a nonprofit fitness organization, conducted a study that found that the toning shoes did not live up to shoe maker claims and other experts have also said the shoes are more hype than anything else.