Reebok to re­fund $2.2 mil­lion to set­tle ‘ton­ing’ class-ac­tion

Claims in­cluded tighter, stronger mus­cles

Ottawa Citizen - - BUSINESS & TECHNOLOGY - ROBERT BOSTELAAR

Cana­di­ans who didn’t get the firmer but­tocks and leg mus­cles they had hoped from a line of Reebok “ton­ing” gar­ments can get their money back as part of a $2.2-mil­lion clas­s­ac­tion set­tle­ment.

Re­funds of up to $100 for run­ning and walk­ing shoes and $80 for cloth­ing that in­cludes capri pants, bras and sleeve­less shirts will be of­fered un­der the set­tle­ment, which re­ceived fi­nal court ap­proval last month.

The agree­ment fol­lows a $25-mil­lion set­tle­ment in the United States af­ter the Fed­eral Trade Com­mis­sion sued Reebok for de­cep­tive ad­ver­tis­ing.

Ac­cord­ing to the FTC, the man­u­fac­turer claimed its tech­nol­ogy fea­tur­ing pock­ets of mov­ing air cre­ates “mi­cro in­sta­bil­ity” that could lead to 28-per-cent more strength and tone in but­tock mus­cles and 11-per-cent more strength in ham­string and calf mus­cles, com­pared with other shoes.

Reg­u­la­tors in both Canada and the U.S. are giv­ing in­creas­ing scru­tiny to the claims of health and beauty prod­ucts.

Last Septem­ber, the Cana­dian dis­trib­u­tor of Nivea prod­ucts agreed to re­pay cus­tomers for mis­lead­ing claims sug­gest­ing the use of its creams leads to a more slen­der and toned body. As part of the set­tle­ment with the fed­eral Com­pe­ti­tion Bureau, the com­pany also paid a $300,000 fine.

Reebok could not be reached for com­ment Wed­nes­day, but on its U.S. web­site the com­pany said it dis­agreed with the FTC al­le­ga­tions and set­tled that case only to avoid pro­tracted lit­i­ga­tion.

“We fully stand be­hind our EasyTone tech­nol­ogy — the first shoe in the ton­ing cat­e­gory in­spired by bal­ance­ball train­ing,” Reebok said.

The com­pany said it has re­ceived thou­sands of tes­ti­mo­ni­als from cus­tomers and has two sep­a­rate stud­ies un­der­way to test its EasyTone footwear and ap­parel.

Jeff Oren­stein, a Montreal lawyer who helped lead the class ac­tion, said he ex­pects many Cana­di­ans to ap­ply for pay­ments be­cause of the strong sales of the ton­ing prod­ucts and be­cause of the at­ten­tion the U.S. case has re­ceived.

More than 3,000 claims sub­mit­ted by Cana­di­ans in the U.S. case will be re­ferred to ad­min­is­tra­tors of the Cana­dian agree­ment, he said.

As well, claimants are not re­quired to pro­vide proof of pur­chase for claims un­der $200, a pro­vi­sion Oren­stein said should add to the par­tic­i­pa­tion rate.

De­tails are avail­able at reebok­canadaset­tle­ment.ca

The set­tle­ment pro­vides for Reebok Canada to pay out a max­i­mum of $2.2 mil­lion. Oren­stein said he ex­pects all claimants will be re­im­bursed af­ter ad­min­is­tra­tion costs and le­gal fees — lawyers have ap­plied for 25 per cent of the set­tle­ment — are sub­tracted.

CHRISTO­PHER POLK/GETTY IM­AGES FOR REEBOK

Ac­tress Eva Men­des shows off items from Reebok’s ton­ing col­lec­tion last year in Bev­erly Hills, Cal­i­for­nia. Reebok says it stands be­hind its EasyTone tech­nol­ogy — which claimed firmer but­tocks and leg mus­cles from its ton­ing gar­ments — but has agreed to...

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