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Sketchers’ shape ups outrage

by SANA OMAR Staff Writer

Consumers who purchased Sketchers Shape-ups or other toning shoes made by the company are eligible to receive a partial refund from a $40 million settlement that the company made with the Federal Trade Commission and 42 other states due to lawsuits on May 16.

The footwear company made many claims that its Shape-ups shoes would help people lose weight and strengthen their butt, leg and stomach muscles. Sketchers used many different celebrities to advertise the shoes such as Kim Kardashian. It was announced that the Federal Trade Commission determined that the shoe company lied about the clinical studies they used to endorse the shoes.

The claims were based on the fact that the shoes caused stress fractures, broken ankles, shin pain and muscle damage. Many other claims stated that wearing the shoes caused back pain and the shoes lacked grip and led the wearer to fall more easily.

“People are gullible and desperate. They want to find an easy and quick way to lose weight without actually exercising. Shape ups were the lazy way out.I’m not saying that the company lying was right but it wasn’t all the companies’ fault. Although the advertisements are misleading, the consumers purchased the shoe without testing it,” says freshman Chrystal Stasticky.

Sketchers agreed to pay $40 million in settlement costs and people who purchased Sketcher’s Resistance Runner, Toners and Tone-ups are eligible for a refund. They also owe $5 million in attorneys’ fees. The company claims that the settlement fee is cheaper than the amount of lawsuits they would have to end up paying.

David Weinberg, Sketchers’ Chief Financial Officer, said in a statement, “This settlement will dispose once and for all of the regulatory and class action proceedings. While we believe we could have prevailed in each of these cases, to do so would have imposed an unreasonable burden on the Company regardless of the outcome.”

The shoes cost roughly between $60 and $100, depending upon the style and sales outlet.

President and CEO of Sketchers Robert Greenburg refuses to admit wrongdoing in marketing the shoe in a way that misleads consumers with false information.

Many people, however, believe that the settlement is not enough money for the company to pay.

Bonnie Patten executive director for Truth in Advertising, a new consumer rights group noted that Sketchers was the “leader in the so-called shape-up shoe market”, which made over $1 billion in sales in the year 2010 alone.

“In total sales, the company makes over billions of dollars. $40 million is nothing in comparison to the company’s total profits. It doesn’t really add up,” says freshman Tatyana Drobyshevskaya.

Sketchers’ company is saying that researchers from around the world have found benefits from various models of toning shoes, which feature curved soles rather than flat-bottomed footwear.

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