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Wendy Bumgardner

Refunds for Vibram FiveFingers Barefoot Walking Shoes

By May 8, 2014

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Vibram FiveFingersIf you bought a pair of Vibram FiveFingers shoes between March 21, 2009 and early 2014, you can file for a refund of up to $94 per pair. No proof of purchase is required for the first two pair, but may be requested. The refunds are part of the settlement of a class action suit alleging that Vibram USA made unsubstantiated health claims about the foot-shaped minimalist shoes.

Further details of how to register for the refund will be available at the web site they agreed to establish, http://fivefingerssettlement.com. That web site is not yet active as of May 8, 2014.

Details: Vibram Agrees to Settle Class Action Lawsuit

Vibram FiveFingers shoes let you have that barefoot experience while protecting your tootsies from rocks and beer bottle caps and other hazards. Like many minimalist shoes, they allegedly purported to help you develop balance and foot strength, while not providing any arch support, motion control or stability.

We first reported on the FiveFingers fad with a guest review from David Van Veen, who said they changed his life by giving him a whole new reason to go walking.
Review: Vibram FiveFingers Barefoot Shoes

But eventually we also heard from experts and studies that said minimalist and "barefoot" shoes might not have benefit, and might in fact lead some to injury.
Study Says Barefoot Shoes Not a Cure-All
Will Minimalist Shoes Injure You?

Photo Wendy Bumgardner

Comments
May 8, 2014 at 11:22 pm
(1) Johnkaye says:

Yet another shyster lawyer with greedy, want something for nothing, clients who filed this class action suit. The only ones who get rich are the lawyers. I have worn Vibrams for over two years and own seven pairs. I wear them all day every day. They are the most comfortable shoes that I have ever owned. I am 65 years old. Prior to getting the Vibrams I was diagnosed with arthritis in both knees. Due to a fall last year I had arthroscopic surgery for a bone spur in the knee. My orthopedist was shocked by the amount of arthritis in the knee. He said that I should not be able to walk without pain and should be in line for a knee replacement. He credits the Vibrams for my ability to walk four to six miles a day. The natural flexing of the foot and ankle is taking a lot of stress off the knee. Too bad I couldn’t be called into court to testify.

May 8, 2014 at 11:26 pm
(2) Jane says:

It’s almost the same issue with the Skechers Shape-Ups that claimed that you could lose weight by wearing their arc like, non level to the ground sneakers. Those went for about $110-$120 a pair. They were sued as well and had to make big payouts.

May 9, 2014 at 9:35 am
(3) karyllynne says:

I got my first pair in 2010 and started running in them in 2011 ( I was not a runner prior to getting my VFFs). My collection has ballooned to 20 pairs, and I’m running half-marathon #10 this weekend. I’m slow, but determined, and have never had an injury that has affected my training. I readily agree that they are not right for every runner, but they have been a revelation for me. Running aside, I generally just prefer to be barefoot, so VFFs suit me perfectly for regular wear. Even if I didn’t love them, I still could not imagine expecting any health or fitness benefit from shoes of any type. Especially not to the point of blaming the shoes for the lack of any such benefit.

May 9, 2014 at 12:26 pm
(4) Ellen says:

It’s not about “blaming” the footwear or the people who bought it. It’s about holding an organization responsible for the claims it makes about its expensive products.

May 9, 2014 at 5:37 pm
(5) Johnkaye says:

Ellen, Vibrams was not found guilty of anything. They settled rather than go to trial. This is yet another example of extortion by the legal community. Find a disgruntled customer looking to play the “legal lottery” and file suit. Company realizes that it is more expensive to fight than to settle. Extortionist lawyers receive a big payout. Happens every day and is in need of reform.

May 9, 2014 at 7:13 pm
(6) Karine says:

Not only are thee “shoes” ugly as hell but they are not even good for your feet. I could not blame the manufacturer – but those that buy into every hype that comes along .. these shoes don’t provide any support, and are ugly to boot ! those wearing them look like “Kermit the Frog.”

May 9, 2014 at 8:21 pm
(7) Johnkaye says:

Karine, Tell that to the hundreds of people commenting here:

http://www.runnersworld.com/general-interest/vibram-agrees-to-settle-class-action-lawsuit

Before starting with Vibrams I had severe Planter Faciitis in both feet and sore knees that turned out to be arthritis. See comment 1 above,I will not repeat it here. The Vibrams cured the Planter Faciitis overnight as well as drastically reducing my knee pain. This is mainly due to the zero lift heel. It is like walking barefoot. For occasions when I can’t wear my Vibrams I also have a pair of Merrell shoes with Vibram soles that have zero lift heels. The key is not so much the Vibram toes which feel really great, it is the zero lift heel. There are also dress shoes with zero lift heels. They look like a regular dress shoe but the heels are hollowed out and they are very expensive. After all, humans walked barefoot for thousands of years before Nike and there ilk came along to tell us we were doing it wrong.

May 10, 2014 at 9:00 am
(8) Terri says:

But the public has a level of responsibility to use common sense. As the saying goes, if it sounds too good to be true…. I’m sick of our litigious society always wanting to shift blame and responsibility. And y’know, I don’t even wear these shoes. I personally think they’re ugly – no offense intended. But i find this lawsuit morally reprehensible.

May 10, 2014 at 9:30 am
(9) Anne says:

I, for another one, won’t be claiming this “refund”. I bought mine expecting them to be shoes.

The sad thing for Vibram in this is their ads didn’t run in “People” or “Reader’s Digest” saying — “Hey! Miracle shoes!” They ran in “Outside” and “Runner’s World” and said — “hey, we have an option that lets you get the benefit of barefoot without the hazards of debris.” They were a good actor for the customers looking for these kinds of shoes.

And now they’re looking at bankruptcy not because they did anything wrong but because the American mindset is “if you can make a buck, do it!”

May 10, 2014 at 9:35 am
(10) Anne says:

For me the barefoot craze prompted me to try standing more and wearing shoes less. Over time I realized I had some bad posture habits and with the help of a dozen or so yoga classes I learned a better way to hold my body when I stand and walk.

Last month I completed a week of hiking and camping without any of my normal lower back, hip, knee, or Planter Fasciitis pain.

May 11, 2014 at 2:09 pm
(11) Dave Law says:

In my early 30s, prior to rupturing the disc between my S1 and L5 vertebrae (sustained by falling from a height of 10 feet, landing on my left hip), I was an avid power walker, walking an average of 2 hours a day on challenging slopes and terrain (in “traditional” running shoes with arch support and shock-absorbing sole). After the injury I was in agonizing pain for about 2 years, with numbness and an inability to raise up on my toes due to nerve damage. Being a strong believer in the human body’s ability to heal itself, I was looking for any relief that didn’t involve surgery. I noticed that wearing the shoes I had worn prior to the injury caused pain in my back that would basically end my physical activity for the day. Since most public activities require footwear, I tried many types of shoes, none of them working. Finally, I tried (the unattractive) Five Fingers and the relief was immediate. Since then I’ve bought numerous pairs, along with Merrell Barefoot Trail Gloves.
I will not be collecting any refund monies from Vibram. To do so would be ungrateful, and I am quite the opposite.
I find this lawsuit heinous. My first reaction on hearing about this lawsuit was that it was initiated by competing shoe manufacturers. I have no evidence to support this idea, but I also haven’t looked for any.
What ever happened to caveat emptor? What kind of person blindly tries something new or different without keeping tabs about how it’s affecting one’s body along the way? The level of implied ignorance is astounding.

May 11, 2014 at 8:57 pm
(12) Sue says:

I own 4 pairs. I have orthopedic and weight problems and it is insane for me to exercise in them, but for everyday use they are amazingly light and comfortable. I almost bought a 5th pair the other day and I might yet. They are FAR more COMFORTABLE than my heavy, stiff cross-training sneakers. I don’t care about claims and wouldn’t pay attention to them. I bought them for comfort and that’s what they have delivered. I panic to think there is a chance I might not be able to get them anymore.

May 13, 2014 at 6:59 pm
(13) Doreen says:

I have six pairs and wear them everyday 2 years ago I had to buy shouts that were ugly because of foot problems and use a cane. Since wearing vff shoes I am cane free and don’t have to wear those ugly shoes anymore.

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