False Tone: Reebok pays consumers for faulty shoe performance



By Shelisa Melendez

Achieving the art of a toned body just got that much harder.

Over the past few years, commercials, magazines and billboards have been flooded with ads for athletic shoes that promise women a more toned body, especially in their butt and thigh regions.

After more and more brands began jumping on the exercise-free bandwagon, consumers grew more curious — wanting to see if the claims were true. Could an athletic shoe guarantee results of a more firm and toned body simply by tying shoelaces and walking?

I would love to tell you the ads were true and millions of women across the country are now walking around with the body of Heidi Klum because of the tone-friendly kicks. However, I can’t.

Just last week, Reebok agreed to pay a total of $25 million in refunds to consumers who purchased their Easy Tone shoe; resulting from a complaint by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission who said the claimed “toning benefits” from Reebok’s products were false and could not be proven by scientific data.

“The Easy Tone advertising campaign touted the shoes’ ability to strengthen legs and glutes, leading to a 28 percent improvement in buttock muscles, 11 percent improvement in hamstrings and 11 percent improvement in calves as compared to regular walking shoes,” a TIME magazine article said.

Although Reebok has agreed to refund consumers and all ads with the false toning claims have been discontinued, Reebok denies the FTC’s complaint.

“Settling does not mean we agreed with the FTC’s allegations; we do not,” Reebok said in a news release. “We fully stand behind our Easy Tone technology … we remain committed to the continued development of our Easy Tone line of products.”

I am not quite sure what leg Reebok has to stand on with that argument, but it obviously isn’t a well-toned one.

According to a TIME article, it has been reported that consumers spent more than $1 billion last year on the relatively new category of athletic footwear — so it is no wonder why the FTC is not stopping its investigative spree with Reebok. The TIME article also said the FTC is currently investigating Skechers, and that there is a pending lawsuit against New Balance for similar claims about their toning shoe.

“They normally go after the biggest player and work down,” said Jaime Bianchi, an expert in consumer class-action lawsuits, in a Chicago Tribune article.

With that being said, Kim Kardashian and company (Skechers) should prepare to be the next stop in the toning shoes investigation.

But after all, it is partly our fault as consumers to believe a body worth having could be so easily attained.

“There is no such thing as a no-work, no-sweat way to a fit and healthy body,” said David Vladeck, head of the FTC’s Consumer Protection Bureau, in a Chicago Tribune article.

But a girl can dream right?

Consumers can go to ftc.gov/Reebok to apply for a refund.