Skechers To Pay $40 Million In Refunds Because Putting On Shoes Is Not A Workout

News flash: you can’t work out by not working out. As we predicted in November, the Federal Trade Commission has settled with shoemaker Skechers over claims that their rounded-bottom Shape-Up shoes helped wearers to tone their lower-body muscles and lose weight. These claims were all over ads and promotional material for the shoes, including an ad that aired during the 2011 Super Bowl.

Shape-Ups ads featured the endorsement of an “independent” chiropractor who claimed to have conducted a study that proved the superior health benefits of wearing Shape-Ups compared to regular old flat-bottomed sneakers. According to the FTC, there were a few problems with this claim: first, the studies didn’t prove what the good doctor claimed, he just happens to be the spouse of a Skechers marketing executive, and the company paid for that not-so-independent study.

Here’s a sample ad provided during the FTC press conference on the settlement today:


In the future, Skechers can’t make claims about any of the following in their athletic shoe ads unless they’re backed up with actual research:

  • claims about strengthening;
  • claims about weight loss; and
  • claims about any other health or fitness-related benefits from toning shoes, including claims regarding caloric expenditure, calorie burn, blood circulation, aerobic conditioning, muscle tone, and muscle activation

Did you buy these shoes? You can check out the info and even file for a refund at the FTC’s site for the settlement.

Skechers Prepping For Possible FTC Settlement Over Shape-Up Ads


Edit Your Comment

  1. homehome says:

    Did they really think they’d get away with this. This was a stupid marketing ploy in the first place. If I was them their whole marketing department would be gone or at least the smart guy who came up with the idea. Okay firing the whole department is harsh, it was probably just 2 or 3 ppl who pushed it. And whoever approved it.

    • MutantMonkey says:

      Do you think they didn’t? How much money do you think they made on this vs. how much they are paying out?

    • JennQPublic says:

      Are you kidding? This was a brilliant marketing ploy! Half the women I know rushed out to buy a pair. Ooh, shoes that will make me hot without having to work out or pay attention to what I eat? I’ll take two!

      In related news, half the women I know are really gullible.

  2. Marlin says:
  3. redskull says:

    Forget phony fitness and weight loss claims– I think Skechers should be punished for associating themselves with a Kardassian.

  4. Hawkeye says:

    But.. Kim Kardashian said they would make me thinner!

  5. TheMansfieldMauler says:

    (2 of the links in the FTC article don’t work – one is 404 and the other is under construction)

  6. axhandler1 says:

    Ok, not to stray from the original point of this post, but I just despise Kim Kardashian. Ugh. Looking at her makes me mad. If I had to choose a poster child for what is wrong with America, she’d be near the top.

    On topic, yeah, Sketchers definitely deserved to get taken to the bank for this. They absolutely promoted the idea that these shoes were basically a workout just wearing them around. I’m sure tons of gullible people drank those claims up.

    • crispyduck13 says:

      She (and her entire family) is one of those “success” stories where one can use “don’t hate the player, hate the game” accurately. You’re right she is a perfect example of what is wrong with America, in that someone with good looks, lots of money but no positive talent or useful skill is idolized by millions of gullible idiots.

      I’d like to nominate any ‘talent’ featured in a reality show with the word “housewives” in the title as well.

      • axhandler1 says:

        Good point, and I agree with you. I’d like to nominate any reality tv show, period.

  7. chefboyardee says:
  8. tbax929 says:

    I love my Shape Ups. I don’t really care about the fitness claims; I just find them to be really comfortable.

    • madmallard says:

      Do you think they’re a well-made shoe? I’ve never held a pair of them…

      • tbax929 says:

        I don’t know if they’re well made. I only wear them when I do my morning and afternoon walks, so mine haven’t really been abused.

        My girlfriend is a nurse and swears by them; she wears them every shift. But, again, I don’t know about their durability.

        • The Lita says:

          I adore mine. I’ve had them for about two years now and wear them nearly every day for at least 6 months out of the year. They’re still going strong and have been pretty durable thus far.

          They’re also some of the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever owned.

    • Martha Gail says:

      I got a free pair of the running ones at a footwear seminar. I wore them once to test them out and I found them to be really comfortable, but not great for running. They were pink and white, which isn’t my style, so I gave them to my mom who works in a doctor’s office. She loves them. Several of the nurses wear them too. I think they just like how spongy they feel.

      • tbax929 says:

        Spongy is a good description. It’s like walking on air. I think a lot of my gf’s coworkers also wear them.

        • msbask says:

          I absolutely agree. I don’t care that they’re not making my butt rock hard. They are, by far, the most comfortable sneakers I’ve ever owned. Had mine for about 2 years and have no complaints as to the quality either.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      Better buy them by the boxfull now – they maybe not be around much. Plus based on comment they are apparently on clearance!

  9. castlecraver says:

    Just another example of big government standing in the way of business. /s

  10. Cat says:

    I’ve seen a lot of these types of shoes from various manufacturers on clearance lately. I wonder if the makers are trying to avoid fines for the same sort of thing.

  11. Blueskylaw says:

    “first, the studies didn’t prove what the good doctor claimed, he just happens to be the spouse of a Skechers marketing executive, and the company paid for that not-so-independent study.”

    That’s why you never, ever, ever, ever, ever believe anything a company advertises. As a matter of fact, using common sense is actually your best defense against corporate bullsh*t.
    That and ear-muffs.

    • RvLeshrac says:

      Best defence would be a minimum penalty of 25% of the company’s gross income from each year the product was advertised, with all fines solely used for further enforcement.

  12. dicobalt says:

    One bullshit marketing campaign down, fifty thousand left to go.

  13. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Their claims were so outrageous, they had to know they would be sued eventually. Clearly they decided ahead of time that the profits outweighed the inevitable fine.

  14. Martha Gail says:

    I wonder about the other brands? Reebok claimed theirs would tone the booty. I have a pair of those and (had) the Skechers, but I never wear either (both were free to me). I can see why Nike was so hesitant to get into that market.

  15. Nobby says:

    Okay, so say Sketchers pays. Who gets the money? Not the folks who bought the shoes, right?

  16. Coffee says:

    My Reebok pumps in the 1980s contributed to strengthening and weight loss. Of course, that’s because they weighed seven pounds, and after my mom purchased them, we could not afford food for three weeks.

  17. mysterydate98 says:

    Didn’t Reebok just go through this with their “Tone” line?

  18. TuxMan says:

    What? You mean I have to exercise? I can’t just wear these shoes while I sleep? I want a refund! I was lied to! I am calling my dad in the FTC!

  19. jrwn says:

    I got these for me, my wife and my 20 kids, how much do I get from this settlement?

    • HomerSimpson says:

      “Claims over $200 will require proof of purchase, and ANY claims MAY require proof of purchase if settlement distribution goes a certain way” — something like that

  20. iesika says:

    Problem #3 with that endorsement: Chiropractic is bunk (That’s not just my opinion, that’s the stance of the American Medical Association). Chiropractors are not doctors.

    • cryptique says:

      The AMA has a vested interest in scaring people away from chiropractic, so take their opinion with a grain of salt.

      I was always a skeptic about chiropractic, but then I had some serious back trouble and a chiropractor was the only one who succeeded in giving me lasting relief. I’m still wary of the profession overall (in my experience, a lot of chiropractors just want to get you coming in every couple of weeks whether you need it or not), but when I’ve screwed up my back or neck I have no qualms about scheduling a few sessions with my DC.

    • TheSpatulaOfLove says:

      I don’t know – my Chiro does a fantastic job of fixing my back and neck, whereas the AMA Doctors just want to give me whatever the drug reps are pushing this month…

  21. 420greg says:

    The arch of my right foot was always super sore in the morning until I started wearing shape up.
    They may not help you lose weight, but they are ‘cushy’ and helped with my foot problem.

    • some.nerd says:

      Nice try, Skechers spokesperson!

      • JHF says:

        My mom wears them because they’re cheaper than custom orthotics but that curved sole ends up having the same walking effect for her as the custom orthotics. I’ll be sorry to see them discontinued.

        • Laura Northrup says:

          I’m not sure they’re getting discontinued unless they stop selling as well.

  22. gafpromise says:

    Honestly that ad doesn’t look so terrible to me. it does say “shape up while you walk” not “shape up while you sit on your butt”.

  23. Thorzdad says:

    I note that Sketchers Shape-ups have been appearing at my local discount big-box store at (relatively) fire-sale prices.

  24. Outrun1986 says:

    These are on clearance in a lot of stores here, and they are not selling, even on clearance. I haven’t seen the reebok ones in a while, I suspect those are pretty much gone from retail, at least here.

    Why can’t people just buy a regular pair of sneakers.

    There is also nothing to prove these shoes do not damage the feet, hips, legs etc from extended wearing, sure they may feel good now, but I would be concerned with what the long term effects of these are.

    Also why are there so many bad shoe fads, Heely’s, crocs, ugly toning shoes…

    I buy easy spirits and converse, both help my foot problems, though the type of converse I like isn’t made anymore. Easy spirits are really good though, and they are just normal sneakers that actually come in my size.