Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Shame on Skechers!
Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced a record $45 million dollar nationwide settlement with Skechers, USA, Inc. to end the deceptive marketing of its footwear products including Shape-Ups, Tone-Ups, and the Skechers Resistance Runner athletic shoes. Under the settlements reached with New York, 44 states and the Federal Trade Commission, up to $40 million is being allocated for refunds to be paid back to consumers who purchased the shoes, and Skechers will pay an additional $5 million to the states.
“This settlement forces Skechers to ‘shape up’ by ceasing to make unsubstantiated health and medical claims for their so-called toning shoes. New Yorkers who purchased these shoes as a result of Skechers’ deceptive marketing practices will now be eligible for refunds,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “A fair market only exists when there are no false marketing claims that give one company an unfair advantage over the competition. Corporations will not be allowed to mislead consumers into spending their hard-earned money on products that promise what they can’t deliver.”
The investigation revealed that Skechers engaged in deceptive and misleading practices when it unlawfully marketed its line of rocker-bottom shoe products including Shape-ups, Tone-ups, and the Skechers Resistance Runner as providing certain health and medical benefits that were not adequately proven by scientific evidence. Skechers claimed that its toning shoes caused consumers to lose weight, burn calories, improve circulation, fight cellulite, and firm, tone or strengthen thigh, buttock, and back muscles and that its products also reduce stress and improve sleep. However, these grandiose claims were not substantiated by credible scientific evidence. Following the investigation, Skechers agreed to change its marketing of its toning shoe products.
Under the settlement, Skechers is prohibited from making these claims unless it has adequate substantiation to do so. More specifically, Skechers cannot make claims regarding the health benefits of its toning footwear products unless those claims are based on scientifically reliable studies or generally accepted competent and reliable scientific evidence. Skechers entered into the settlement without admitting any wrongdoing.
Consumers who purchased Shape-Ups, Tone-Ups, or the Skechers Resistance Runner at any time should go to www.ftc.gov/skechers or call 866-325-4186 beginning today to submit a claim for a partial refund. The amount of each refund will be determined by how many consumers apply for a refund from the available pool of $40,000,000.
The case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Benjamin J. Lee under the supervision of Jane M. Azia, Chief of the Consumer Frauds and Protection Bureau, and Executive Deputy Attorney General for Economic Justice Karla Sanchez.