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Vibram FiveFinger Shoes Offers Refunds To Angry Customers

The shoes claimed they could help you get healthy. They might have stretched the truth.

1. These are Vibram FiveFinger shoes.

They’re part of the very successful “barefoot” running trend, a small but growing segment of the running community that believes that it’s better to run like runners have been running for thousands of years, rather than investing in fancy shock-absorbing soles or running shoe technology.

2. There are now a couple dozen varieties of FiveFinger shoes, retailing for between $80 and $125.

That’s pretty steep! But consumers snatched them up, sold on the shoe’s advertised health benefits — which included improved posture, strengthened muscles, and reduced injuries.

3. But a lawsuit filed in March 2012 accused the company of making its health claims without any actual scientific research.

On Wednesdsay, the company agreed to establish a $3.75 million fund to pay out refunds to anyone who had bought a pair since March 21, 2009.

4. Dissatisfied customers can expect potential refunds of between $20 and $50 each.

Proof of purchase isn’t required. Consumers only need to log on to fivefingerssettlement.com (once it’s up and running) to file a claim.

5. This isn’t the first time the public’s been taken by the supposed health benefits of a (really ugly) shoe:

In 2012, Skechers was forced to pay $40 million in refunds to people who had shelled out for a pair of their Shape-ups “fitness” shoes. And Reebok was required to pay a $25 million settlement over charges that it misled people about the health benefits of its toning shoes.

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