Skechers has agreed to pay $40 million to settle charges it misled consumers with claims that its toning sneakers would do everything from help them lose weight to make their “bottom half their better half” without ever going to a gym. The settlement, which will be used to provide refunds to buyers of Shape-ups and other Skechers toning sneakers, is believed to be the FTC’s largest ever involving consumer refunds. The announcement comes about eight months after Reebok settled similar FTC charges for $25 million. Skechers had acknowledged in an SEC filing that it was being investigated by the FTC. The reason Skecher’s settlement was larger, in part, was because it has more market share in toning sneakers than did Rebook. Skechers was the market leader in the toning footwear category. Its Shape-ups, introduced in April 2009, cost consumers about $100 a pair. Resistance Runner, Toners, and Tone-ups were sold starting in mid-2010 for $60 to $100 a pair.
Under the terms of the settlement, Skechers will be prohibited from making unsubstantiated claims about the health and fitness benefits of Shape-ups and related footwear. The SEC alleged Skechers also made deceptive claims about its Resistance Runner, Toners, and Tone-ups shoes. Along with singling out deceptive ads, such as Super Bowl ads featuring Kim Kardashian and Brooke Burke, the FTC said research underlying the claims was suspect.
It appears that Steven Gautreau, a chiropractor, recommended the product based on a clinical study he claimed was “independent.” He also claimed that the shoes’ benefits were tested and compared to regular fitness shoes. But the FTC found the study did not produce the results claimed in the ad. The agency also says Skechers failed to disclose that Dr. Gautreau is married to a Skechers marketing executive and that Skechers paid him to do the study.
David Vladeck, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, says the Skechers sneakers didn’t just fail to live up to their purported fitness claims, he says the sneakers may have had the opposite effect. Consumers not only “didn’t lose weight, they gained weight,” according to Vladeck. Consumers who bought any of the Skechers sneakers covered by the settlement can learn more and file for a refund at ftc.gov/Skechers.
Source: USA Today
Contact us today for a free legal consultation with an experienced attorney.
Fields marked *may be required for submission.
If you would like to subscribe to the Jere Beasley Report digital edition, simply visit our Subscriptions page and provide the necessary information or call us at 800-898-2034.
Attorney Advertising - Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.