Skechers settles charges over toning shoe ads

WASHINGTON Wed May 16, 2012 12:05pm EDT

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Skechers USA Inc has agreed to pay $40 million to settle charges that it made unfounded claims when it advertised that its "toning shoes" would enable users to get stronger and lose weight.

The Federal Trade Commission said on Wednesday the shoe maker was deceptive in the marketing of its Shape-ups, Resistance Runner, Toners and Tone-ups shoes.

The settlement with Skechers follows a September 2011 settlement with Reebok International Ltd in which it agreed to pay $25 million to resolve similar charges. Reebok is owned by Adidas.

In both cases, the money will go largely toward consumer refunds.

Toning shoes are designed to be slightly unstable, and manufacturers say the instability requires the wearer to work harder, thus strengthening muscles.

"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.

A telephone call to Skechers seeking a comment was not immediately returned.

Skechers' shares were down 1.9 percent at $17.93 in midday trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

(Reporting By Diane Bartz; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick and Maureen Bavdek)

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