SoCal sole-makers, Skechers, seem to have stepped in it, as false-advertising claims regarding the company's "Shape-ups" and other toning shoes have strutted the company into a proposed $40 million settlement with the Federal Trade Commission.
The FTC targeted fitness claims made in advertisements. The feds put their foot down and settled with Reebok last year over similar false advertising claims, reports NBC LA.
"Skechers’ unfounded claims went beyond stronger and more toned muscles. The company even made claims about weight loss and cardiovascular health," said David Vladeck, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, in a press release.
If approved by the court, the proposed settlement will result in cash refunds for each pair of shoes purchased in the following amounts:
- Shape-ups: $40-$80
- Podded sole shoes: $27-$54
- Tone-ups (non-podded sole): $20-$40
- Resistance Runner: $42-$84
To be eligible for a refund, claims can be submitted online at skecherssettlement.com.
Among other allegations, the FTC said results of an endorsed "independent" clinical study were misrepresented, and that the chiropractor, who was paid by Skechers, was married to one of its executives.
Skechers denied the federal government's allegations in a press release Wednesday, but agreed to settle to "avoid protracted legal proceedings" and curb legal costs.
The company says it will continue to make and sell toning shoes. They are permitted under the settlement to advertise that wearing the "rocker-bottom shoes like Shape-ups can lead to increased leg muscle activation, increased calorie burn, improved posture and reduced back pain," according to Skechers president Michael Greenberg.
The settlement is part of a broader agreement also announced Wednesday that resolves investigations in 44 states and the District of Columbia, reports NBC LA.
According to the FTC, the Manhattan Beach-based company was the "market leader" toning footwear.