Reebok to refund $2.2 million to settle ‘toning’ class-action
Claims included tighter, stronger muscles
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.