Those following the debate over minimalism have no doubt already heard about the class action lawsuit filed against Vibram. Valerie Bezdek, a Florida resident, is trying to sue the company over claims that barefoot-style running has health benefits. She’s citing the large percentage of people who, ignoring Vibram’s instructions, run in Five Fingers improperly and get injured.
In other words:
Now, I have a vacuum. The box it came in claims that it “removes embedded dirt and minimizes scatter on carpet.” And it does—if I first plug it in. But what if I didn’t plug it in? What if I disregarded the vacuum’s instructions and rolled it around my apartment with the power set to “off”? It sure wouldn’t remove any embedded dirt.
What if I could prove that the majority of people didn’t use the Wind Tunnel properly? Should I sue Hoover?
It’s easy to scoff at the comparison. Everyone knows electricity is required to power a vacuum, right? But I have a hard time believing that Ms. Bezdek didn’t know that barefoot-style running comes with some dangers. The Vibram site is peppered with warnings, disclaimers, instructions, and more warnings. Any good retailer would have explained to her that these shoes require major changes in running form, and that adjusting is neither a quick nor an easy process.
Working for such a retailer, I’m not surprised by this lawsuit. I’ve had to dash the hopes of many, many customers. I’ve had to explain to them that minimalist-style shoes are not magic. That they merely promote healthy form. And I’ve seen customers’ eyes glaze over when I try to disabuse them of their fantasies. People want to believe that merely buying a new product will solve all their running problems. They want to believe this so strongly that they won’t listen when I suggest otherwise. It’s little wonder that they react poorly when the product fails to live up to their expectations.
That’s why I’m not surprised that Ms. Bezdek would resort to a lawsuit. When an American doesn’t get what she wants, suing is usually the next step. What I find disturbing is how far her case has gotten.Share on Facebook