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FTC vs. Skechers: Overhyped Meets Overkill
Townhall.com ^ | May 20. 2012 | Debra J. Saunders

Posted on 05/20/2012 4:53:04 AM PDT by Kaslin

The Federal Trade Commission announced Wednesday that Skechers USA Inc. will pay $40 million to settle charges that the shoe company made "unfounded claims" about its Shape-ups.

"Shape up while you walk," one ad proclaimed. And: "Get in Shape Without Setting Foot in a Gym." Kim Kardashian endorsed the rocker-bottom sneaks. She said they worked so well she got rid of her personal trainer. The FTC found Skechers' weight-loss and tone-up claims to be overhyped.

Overhyped? It's a good thing Washington politicians never overpromise; otherwise, one might think the FTC should go after politicians who mislead voters before it targets private-sector employers that overhype their products.

In the rush for headlines, politicians know no shame. Attorneys general from more than 40 states got in the act. California Attorney General Kamala Harris put out a press release to toot her role in the settlement. "Consumers shouldn't be duped into paying more for products with false promises of weight loss and other benefits," quoth Harris. "The FTC's message for Skechers and other national advertisers is to shape up your substantiation or tone down your claims," the FTC's David Vladeck said in a statement.

You can sleep soundly tonight, America. In the land of the press release, there is no such thing as an insignificant problem.

Confession time: I bought a pair of Skechers. (I bought the shoes because a similar brand helped my husband alleviate knee problems.) I didn't expect to lose weight. I certainly didn't expect to look like Kim Kardashian. I also did not expect to moon-dance as deftly as Mr. Quiggly, the French bulldog who replaced Kardashian as Skechers' shill.

"It's one thing if you sell someone a washing machine and it breaks," Cato Institute senior fellow Walter Olson observed, or if a product promises a medical advancement that it cannot deliver. But the Skechers ads, to Olson, are like beer ads that show "pretty women swimming around the beer drinker, which seldom happens in real life."

FTC attorney Larissa Bungo disagrees. She explained, "We're dealing with a national advertiser that made explicit performance claims," which it couldn't back up. The FTC made much of the fact that endorser Steven Gautreau, a chiropractor, is married to a Skechers marketing executive.

I could see the FTC engaging in a legal settlement to stop Skechers from false advertising -- if that happened. A disclaimer at the end of the FTC's statement notes that the settlement does not constitute an admission of guilt on Skechers' part.

But I do not see it as prudent use of government funds and resources to set up a bureaucracy that gives money to consumers to compensate them for not getting a benefit that no reasonable consumer would expect.

And it's not as if consumers can't return sneakers.

"The government is looking for easy targets," Cato's Olson opined, "which is not the same as being the worst players in the marketplace. If you have a successful product, in some ways you can be an easier target."

In a statement released Wednesday, Skechers chief financial officer David Weinberg denied the allegations of "unfounded claims" but did say the "exorbitant cost and endless distraction" of multiple class action suits presented an "unreasonable burden" on the company, regardless of outcome.

That's why the government always wins. It's like paying protection money. In the end, it's easier to pay up and move on.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Editorial; Government
KEYWORDS:

1 posted on 05/20/2012 4:53:07 AM PDT by Kaslin
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To: Kaslin

Why doesn’t the government just say, “We need money”?


2 posted on 05/20/2012 4:56:11 AM PDT by 1010RD (First, Do No Harm)
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To: 1010RD

Stick em up is more like it!!


3 posted on 05/20/2012 5:02:57 AM PDT by FES0844
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To: Kaslin

It will cause the price of my Skechers to go up to pay for these greedy lawyers.


4 posted on 05/20/2012 5:12:25 AM PDT by The_Media_never_lie (The President who ate the dog, will soon wag the dog.)
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To: Kaslin
Sketchers became so successful, they became a target for everybody's attack. They sought a high-profile, and now must suffer the consequences.

I call this a McDonalds Problem. Everybody who wants to complain about the state of the American diet attacks McDonalds, because they are the high-profile, short-hand target. You say "McDonalds", and everybody knows what you mean.

Meanwhile, Wendy's may sell just as many hamburgers, and be responsible for just as much of the problem, but they are never attacked by name.

Sketchers got so big, they got the McDonalds Problem treatment. All the same, they will pay this $40 Million fine and laugh all the way to the bank.

5 posted on 05/20/2012 5:16:43 AM PDT by Haiku Guy ("The problem with Internet Quotes is that you never know if they are real" -- Abraham Lincoln)
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To: The_Media_never_lie

Then don’t buy ‘em. I don’t understand why anyone would fall for an advertisement as ridiculous as that Sketcher promise anyway


6 posted on 05/20/2012 5:18:10 AM PDT by Kaslin (Acronym for OBAMA: One Big Ass Mistake America)
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To: Kaslin
Kim Kardashian ... said they worked so well she got rid of her personal trainer.
I remember seeing the ads and as a long time runner, I instantly knew she and Skechers were full of krap.
What's more amazing is how many people believe they can get something - weight loss, in shape, etc., - for nothing, just by wearing a shoe.
7 posted on 05/20/2012 5:29:08 AM PDT by oh8eleven (RVN '67-'68)
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To: oh8eleven

These are the same idiots who fell for the arrogant’s pos occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave Hope and Change promises


8 posted on 05/20/2012 5:34:37 AM PDT by Kaslin (Acronym for OBAMA: One Big Ass Mistake America)
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To: Kaslin

Well, it *was* false advertising, if Skechers knew their claim was bogus. I wish the FTC would go after these homeopathic “cures” next.


9 posted on 05/20/2012 5:38:51 AM PDT by PLMerite (Shut the Beyotch Down! Burn, baby, burn!)
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To: Kaslin

Proven by the number of “victim’s” groups who’ve been whining the last few months that zero hasn’t done anything for them.


10 posted on 05/20/2012 5:43:19 AM PDT by oh8eleven (RVN '67-'68)
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To: Kaslin
That's why the government always wins. It's like paying protection money. In the end, it's easier to pay up and move on.

The government has taken over most of the rackets. They took over lotteries and shakedowns. They have their hands in drugs and gunrunning. All those 1940 gangster movies are a metaphor for government.

11 posted on 05/20/2012 5:51:49 AM PDT by LoneRangerMassachusetts (The meek shall not inherit the Earth)
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To: Kaslin

Bought my first pair of Skechers, two weeks ago. didn’t buy them for the ‘toning’, but they are extremely comfortable if you are on you feet for hours at a time.

Got them at Ross Dress for Less for $13.50, with a suggested retail price of about $80.00.


12 posted on 05/20/2012 5:53:27 AM PDT by SeaHawkFan
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To: PLMerite

I don’t believe Sketchers held a gun to their heads and demanded that they buy the shoes.


13 posted on 05/20/2012 5:55:17 AM PDT by Kaslin (Acronym for OBAMA: One Big Ass Mistake America)
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To: SeaHawkFan

Agreed, don’t have Skechers, but have had 5 pairs of rocker bottom shoes, and that’s all I wear. MBT and Cogent are great, Dr Scholls are too thin and hard. The calf muscles do get a good work-out if you over exaggerate your movement.


14 posted on 05/20/2012 6:06:45 AM PDT by Son House (The Economic Boom Heard Around The World => TEA Party 2012)
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To: SeaHawkFan

My wife wears them all the time and she’s on her feet all day. They are the best thing for her back pain and her legs are very muscular. She’s on her 5th pair and will wear nothing else if she has to be on her feet.


15 posted on 05/20/2012 6:08:40 AM PDT by mcshot (God bless the USA!)
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To: Kaslin
There are a lot more blatant false advertising schemes out there. I suspect someone in the FTC got taken in, and that made it personal
16 posted on 05/20/2012 6:20:25 AM PDT by redgolum ("God is dead" -- Nietzsche. "Nietzsche is dead" -- God.)
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To: Kaslin

I would not ever buy this shoe on the basis of this ad. I would probably not even like this shoe. However, Schechers does make a very reasonably priced shoe that seems to be of good quality as a walking shoe.

Now, my purchase of a Schecher shoe will include a cut for the greedy lawyers.


17 posted on 05/20/2012 6:23:34 AM PDT by The_Media_never_lie (The President who ate the dog, will soon wag the dog.)
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To: Kaslin

I would not ever buy this shoe on the basis of this ad. I would probably not even like this shoe. However, Schechers does make a very reasonably priced shoe that seems to be of good quality as a walking shoe.

Now, my purchase of a Schecher shoe will include a cut for the greedy lawyers.


18 posted on 05/20/2012 6:23:50 AM PDT by The_Media_never_lie (The President who ate the dog, will soon wag the dog.)
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To: SeaHawkFan

That is a good buy, but my point was not to buy anything because of what the advertisement says. The best thing is not to pay attention to ads in the first place


19 posted on 05/20/2012 6:24:10 AM PDT by Kaslin (Acronym for OBAMA: One Big Ass Mistake America)
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To: Kaslin

Didn’t Birkenstocks make the same claim decades ago? But then again, I suspect Birkenstock is a large contributor to left-wing causes, and so is exempt from such petty constraints as truth in advertising.


20 posted on 05/20/2012 7:06:04 AM PDT by IronJack (=)
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To: Kaslin

“I don’t believe Sketchers held a gun to their heads and demanded that they buy the shoes.”

So if GM says one of their cars gets 95mpg and when you buy it your copy only gets 30mpg, is that okay ?


21 posted on 05/20/2012 7:13:27 AM PDT by PLMerite (Shut the Beyotch Down! Burn, baby, burn!)
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To: Kaslin
Then don’t buy ‘em. I don’t understand why anyone would fall for an advertisement as ridiculous as that Sketcher promise anyway

Yep - dumb to expect a shoe to make you stronger/healtheir. Only two questions about buiyng shoes: Are they comfortable and do they not look too bad...

22 posted on 05/20/2012 7:17:37 AM PDT by trebb ("If a man will not work, he should not eat" From 2 Thes 3)
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To: 1010RD

Due to flat budget funding about half of the FTC’s funding now comes from fines. They target successful companies that have concentrated amounts of cash to confiscate. It’s extortion. Chinese and other foreign companies are ignored because courts can’t order the seizure of their cash. It’s all about sucking wealth out of the US economy to waste on government hirelings.


23 posted on 05/20/2012 7:22:23 AM PDT by Reeses
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To: Kaslin
Questions:

Might citizens have a reasonable case for charging that the FTC is guilty of making "unfounded claims" that it, in fact, protects citizens?

What ever happened to the ancient adage, "buyer beware"?

24 posted on 05/20/2012 8:35:28 AM PDT by loveliberty2
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To: Kaslin

Evidently Skechers USA, Inc. didn’t donate enough to Obama’s reelection campaign.


25 posted on 05/20/2012 9:06:11 AM PDT by E. Pluribus Unum (Do I really need a sarcasm tag? Seriously? You're that dense?)
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To: Reeses
That's the danger. Do Gooders forget that government isn't neutral and never can be. Government by its nature is political and always will be.
26 posted on 05/20/2012 5:11:03 PM PDT by 1010RD (First, Do No Harm)
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