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Price of Trendy Shoes At Center of a Lawsuit

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RALEIGH — You may be one of millions of women who have been paying too much for shoes. Nine West and several stores are charged with organizing a shoe conspiracy that has been going on for years.

It is estimated that one in every five women owns a pair of Nine West Shoes.

The trendy shoes are sold in the Nine West stores across the county but also in thousands of other retail outlets and department stores.

If the lawsuit holds true, thousands of women nationwide may be getting ripped off when they purchase a pair of shoes.

"I love shoes. My husband told me if I bring one more pair of shoes home, then that's it," said one shopper.

Women and shoes have paired up to produce a billion dollar industry for retailers, even despite the consequences.

And for most women, the Nine West brand is a staple in their closet.

But the popular shoe brand may not be so popular with women any more after news of a class action antitrust lawsuit.

The lawsuit filed a week ago accuses the company and a number of department stores of conspiring to keep shoe prices artificially high.

The lawsuit also accuses Nine West of enforcing the practice by threatening to cut off supplies to any retailer who did not follow the practice.

The company has not commented on the lawsuit publically, but it did say in a press release it "does not anticipate the litigation will result in a(n) adverse financial effect on the company."

But some women whose finances depend on the cost of the shoes say the outcome may have an adverse effect on them.

"It would deter me from buying their shoes if they're fixing prices and I know I have to do a major amount of homework to purchase a pair of shoes that I feel I got at a good price and I didn't get ripped off," said customer Deborah Voss.

The plaintiffs are asking for an unspecified amount of money.

In addition to the companies named in the lawsuit, several state attorneys general are also looking into Nine West's practices. So far, North Carolina is not one of them.


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