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.