Be honest: did you rock those goofy looking thick-soled athletic shoes in hopes of toning your legs and backside? If you never saw any results, you aren’t alone, and now you can get your money back from Skechers.
The Federal Trade Commission announced that Skechers USA has reached a settlement to pay $40 million for fraudulently promising consumers that the “Shape-Ups” would enhance weight loss and tone legs, buttocks, and abdominal muscles. The FTC alleges Skechers made false advertising claims and presented trumped up research to support their claims. In addition to Shape-ups , Skechers made similar baseless claims about the Resistance Runner, Toners and Tone-up shoes.
Consumers may be eligible for refunds through the FTC or a class action lawsuit. The lawsuit and coordinating refunds follow a nationwide investigation into the false advertising claims in 44 states and the District of Columbia. Reebok International Ltd., faced a similar settlement last year over a similar shoe, its Easytone shoe.
Skechers made nearly $1 billion in sales of toner shoes. Shape-up fitness shoes cost about $100 a pair, and Resistance Runner, Toners, and Tone-ups were sold for $60 to $100 a pair.
- A Shape-ups ad told consumers to “Shape Up While You Walk,” and “Get in Shape without Setting Foot in a Gym,” and claimed that the shoes are designed to promote weight loss and tone muscles. The FTC alleges that Skechers made unsupported claims that Shape-ups would provide more weight loss and more muscle toning and strengthening than regular fitness shoes.
- Shape-ups ads featured an endorsement from a chiropractor named Dr. Steven Gautreau, who recommended the product based on the results of an “independent” clinical study he conducted that tested the shoes’ benefits compared to those provided by regular fitness shoes. The FTC alleges that this study did not produce the results claimed in the ad, that Skechers failed to disclose that Dr. Gautreau is married to a Skechers marketing executive, and that Skechers paid Dr. Gautreau to conduct the study.
- An ad claimed consumers who wear Resistance Runner shoes will increase “muscle activation” by up to 85 percent for posture-related muscles, 71 percent for one of the muscles in the buttocks, and 68 percent for calf muscles, compared to wearing regular running shoes. The FTC alleges that in citing the study that claimed to back this up, Skechers cherry-picked results and failed to substantiate its ad claims.
-Follow Elise Rambaud Marrion, @emarrion_cmn.