Holy Moly. The Federal Trade Commission announced that Skechers USA, Inc. has agreed to pay $40 million to settle charges that the company deceived consumers by making unfounded claims that Shape-ups would help people lose weight, and strengthen and tone their buttocks, legs and abdominal muscles.
But Mama said they were my magic shoes. Mama said they take me anywhere.
Yea, with claims like, right smack-dab in the middle of a lawsuit if you’re not careful.
In a complaint filed Wednesday in federal court, the Federal Trade Commission said Skechers hyped advertising for its Shape-ups line with unsubstantiated tag lines such as “Get in Shape Without Setting Foot in a Gym.” The company also failed to disclose that a chiropractor featured in one of its ads is married to a Skechers marketing executive and was paid to conduct studies on the shoes’ performance.
Skechers agreed to pay $40 million to settle charges that it made unfounded claims about the benefits of its toning shoes by asserting that they help people lose weight, tone lower body muscles and even combat heart disease.
The FTC expects the settlement, which has not been finalized, to be its largest ever in terms of the amount of money refunded to consumers. The agreement also involves refunds for the company’s Resistance Runner, Toners and Tone-ups shoes.
“Skechers put its foot in its mouth by making unsubstantiated claims,” said David Vladeck, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.
Skechers denied the allegations and defended its advertising as “appropriate.” In a statement, the company said it chose to settle to avoid protracted legal battles that would have imposed “an unreasonable burden” on its business.
The company previously had disclosed that it would pay a one-time settlement of $45 million. While most of that money would go toward the FTC settlement, the remaining $5 million will settle related lawsuits involving the District of Columbia and 43 states, including Maryland and Virginia, the attorneys general in those states announced Wednesday. Another $5 million will be paid for class-action attorney fees, the company said.
The FTC also alleged that Skechers made deceptive claims about its Resistance Runner, Toners and Tone-ups shoes.
Consumers who purchased any of these toning shoes can file for refunds through the FTC (www.ftc.gov/skechers) or through a court-approved class-action lawsuit.
The FTC/Skechers settlement is part of a broader agreement, also being announced today, resolving a multi-state investigation that was led by the attorneys general of Tennessee and Ohio, and included AGs from 42 other states and the District of Columbia.
The FTC settlement also bars Skechers from making any further claims for its toning shoes about health/fitness-related benefits unless they are true and backed by scientific evidence.
In announcing the FTC settlement with Skechers, David Vladeck, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said: “The FTC’s message, for Skechers and other national advertisers, is to shape up your substantiation or tone down your claims.” He added that FTC standards regarding advertising claims are very clear.
You can read the whole cluster-f#k here.