Reebok to refund customers who bought EasyTone, RunTone sneakers: How far can a company go?

September 29, 2011

Reebok will refund $25 million total to customers who purchased its so-called toning sneakers after the shoe’s advertisements were deemed misleading.


A pair of Reebok EasyTone sneakers . (Andrew Harrer/BLOOMBERG)

The company said it settled to avoid a court battle and that customers are “overwhelmingly” happy with the shoes.

In this case, it’s not clear if Reebok would have won in court. But past cases of false advertising show how misleading an ad needs to be for customers to get a refund.

Sometimes an advertisement clearly doesn’t deliver, like in the class-action suit against Classmates.com. Anthony Michaels received an e-mail saying that class members were waiting to connect with him on the site. But when he upgraded to the “Gold Membership,“ he found that there weren’t any old friends waiting on the other side. He sued the company in 2008. Two years later, the company was ordered to pay $9.5 million to duped users.

Then there are companies who will got to bat for their product.

Fast food chain Taco Bell was sued in January over claims that what it called ground beef was really just meat filling. The company fired back with an estimated $4 million worth of television and print ads defending its product.

The plaintiff dropped the suit in April, saying the company had made the changes they wanted. Taco Bell denied it had made any changes or done anything wrong.

Watch an Easy Tone ad below.

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