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Suit settled over Skechers claims

A $40 million settlement was approved that provides for compensation for consumers who bought sneakers advertised that they would do the exercise for you.

By Mitch Lipka May 13, 2013 7:52PM
A class-action lawsuit filed against Skechers USA Inc. over claims that just wearing their shoes would provide the benefit of exercise was settled today — opening the door to payments to consumers who purchased them.

Skechers Shape-ups XF
© Chicago Tribune/MCT /Landov
Skechers_051313_RM_300The sneakers at issue in the case — Skechers' Shape-ups, Resistance Runner, Shape-ups Toners/Trainers, and Tone-ups — were sold between August 2008 and August 2012. Those who have submitted claims in the case — more than 500,000 consumers — will be eligible to receive refunds up to $84 per pair of Resistance Runners, $80 for Shape-ups, $54 for Podded Sole Shoes, and $40 for Tone-Ups.

It has taken a while for the case to get to this point. The Federal Trade Commission a year ago reached an agreement with Skechers, which admits no wrongdoing in the matter, to repay consumers and dial down its claims.

Skechers ran a series of advertisements, including one with Kim Kardashian and Brooke Burke that run during the 2011 Super Bowl, that boasted all someone had to do to kickstart their weigh-loss would be to lace up a pair of these shoes.

The FTC said Skechers crossed a lot of lines beyond just suggesting the sneakers would help tone and tighten muscles, but also pitching the shoes as a weight-loss tool.

"Skechers' unfounded claims went beyond stronger and more toned muscles. The company even made claims about weight loss and cardiovascular health," David Vladeck, the then-director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection said at the time. "The FTC’s message, for Skechers and other national advertisers, is to shape up your substantiation or tone down your claims."

Absent any scientific evidence to prove its case, Skecher agreed to stop making the claims about its shoes, including saying they can aid in:
  • strengthening
  • weight loss
  • blood circulation
  • aerobic conditioning
  • improving muscle tone
The claims so irked consumers and consumer advocates that more than 40 state attorneys general, the federal government and several groups of consumers all sued the company. The cases eventually were all consolidated, resulting in the just-finalized settlement.

Skechers isn't the only company to run into a similar jam with a similar product. In the fall of 2011, Reebok International Ltd. agreed to pay $25 million to settle allegations that it misled consumers in ads about its EasyTone and RunTone shoes.

Reebok's claims were largely focused on the idea that wearing its shoes would accelerate the process of toning and strengthening the legs and buttocks.

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3Comments
May 14, 2013 8:22AM
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Now if they would just take on the cereal manufacturers who crumble cookies and add multivitamins as a food source for kids. "Killing your children for profit" is a more appropriate slogan than the marketing claims they publish.
May 22, 2013 7:00PM
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I filed along time ago wheres my money

 

May 14, 2013 1:17PM
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To the people who participated in this class-action lawsuit:

 

1. If you fell for such an obvious scam, maybe you deserved to lose your money.

 

2. You're not getting back what you spent on the shoes. The article cites a settlement of 40 million dollars, and at least 500,000 plaintiffs. If you divide the plaintiffs evenly (for the sake of an estimate) between the four types of shoes mentioned, and multiply each shoe price by 125,000 (a quarter of the plaintiffs), you end up with 32.25 million dollars. Do you really believe that your lawyers will skim off only 7 or 8 million dollars for their expenses and fees? That's only 20% of the settlement. It's more likely that they'll take 33% or more. As in all class action suits, you'll be lucky to get a check for $21.59.

 

3. Look on the bright (and amazingly surprising) side - it didn't take the typical 10-20 years to settle this case.

 

And don't curse your lawyers, either. Take this as a learning opportunity. Yes, you were stupid to fall for advertising claims. You paid $40-$84 for a lesson in using your head. Don't waste the expense by ignoring the lesson.

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