Reebok hit with massive fine

(NBC) - The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is cracking down on Reebok for making what it calls "false claims" about its "toning" shoes.

The FTC settled a class action lawsuit stemming from Reebok's claims in product ads that its Easy Tone and Runtone shoes can "strengthen and tone key leg and buttock muscles" more than regular shoes.

The company will pay a $25 million fine and offer refunds to customers.

In a statement, Reebok says the company stands behind its easy tone technology:

"Settling does not mean we agree with the FTC's allegations; we do not. We have received overwhelmingly enthusiastic feedback from thousands of EasyTone customers."

The FTC says customer feedback is not a substitute for sound science, and set the tone for other companies making similar products and claims.

Since the toning shoes hit the market, several studies, including one by the American Council on Exercise, have not found any extra benefits from using the product designed to shift the balance from traditional shoes.

"The take-home message is that whether you walk in normal running shoes or you go out and purchase and make the investment in these toning shoes - you're going to get similar results and effects," said Dr. Cedric Bryant, the chief science officer for the American Council on Exercise.

Customers seeking a refund from Reebok can go to the FTC website to process their claim online.

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