Some Thoughts on the FTC and Skechers Shape-Ups

False information comes at a hefty price, apparently.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently slapped shoe-maker giant Skechers with a whopping $40 million fine. This stems from the company’s allegedly false claims that their line of Shape-ups shoes would “help people lose weight, and strengthen and tone their buttocks, legs, and abdominal muscles.” Incorrect claims were also made about their Resistance Runner, Toners, and Tone-up brands.

The culprit.

David Vladeck, director of FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection says, “Skechers claims went beyond stronger and more toned muscles. The company even made claims about weight loss and cardiovascular health.” Skechers customers will be adequately compensated if they bought these miracle shoes, via a court-approved class-action lawsuit, or directly from the FTC.

So let me recap: Skechers unveils a brand of shoes they say tones leg muscles and butts. The Federal Trade Commission tells the public that they don’t do any of the claims stated, and fine Skechers an astronomical amount of money (which, by the way, Skechers has agreed to pay). Now, people duped into believing the claims can be compensated.

Seriously?

One of the first lessons a mother teaches their child (it’s in the mother rulebook) is that you can’t judge a book by its cover. Another lesson is that you can’t believe everything you hear. Do consumers truly stumble about, listening to whatever media-saturated bull crap is rammed down their throat? Does no one exercise caution when choosing what their feet should wear?

Health claims are a slippery slope, mainly because everyone has a different body. People lose and gain weight, grow and shrink, build and lose muscle, all at different rates. Why doesn’t every body builder buy Body Fortress Whey Protein? Why doesn’t every obese person buy Nutrisystem? Because every person has to achieve their goals on their own terms, using whatever methods are necessary for them.

Why should these shoes be any different? Why must there be fine print at the bottom of the commercial that says “Anna achieved these results with the Skechers Shape-ups shoes, as well as with diet and exercise. Results may vary. Find the workout plan that’s right for you?”

Consumers should go into a sale, knowing that not everything does what it says it does. For instance, Diet Mountain Dew says it gives the buyer health benefits while maintaining the same great taste of original Mountain Dew. But the brutal reality is that the diet concoction includes some sort of artificial sweetener that ruins the taste and turns the soda into mere syrup.

Customers need to take claims into consideration. When considering whether to buy something, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Skechers claims that not only will you get delightfully toned legs and glutes, but toned abs, weight loss, and heart health seem slightly disproportionate. It’s a shoe with an unstable bottom. Get a grip.

What makes less sense is the FTC’s decision to compensate the buyers of Skechers Shape-ups. Do people really need to be compensated? The shoes cost about fifty dollars for the lower-end versions, which is on-par with many other brands of shoes. But is it the FTC’s purpose to coddle the consumer because they made a bad buying choice? The FTC is designed to keep claims true, certainly. But that shouldn’t involve reimbursing buyers for their stupidity in blindly walking into claims made by an actor’s portrayal of a doctor. Unless you were physically hurt by these shoes because you tripped or the shoelaces came alive and started strangulating you, there is no need for you to get your money back, nor is there a need for the FTC to tell you, “Poor baby. Those mean marketers actually did their job and convinced you to buy their shoe brand. Have some money.”


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