Download a coupon, forfeit your rights?: General Mills restricts consumers' right to sue

Categories: News

Cheerios.jpg
Photo by Y'amal via Flickr
General Mills, the Minnesota-based corporation responsible for brands like Pillsbury and Betty Crocker, has amended its legal policies to prohibit those who download coupons, enter sweepstakes, or join in related online communities from suing the company, The New York Times reported on Wednesday.

The news quickly spread, sparking outrage among social media users concerned that the new policies would apply to those who 'like' General Mills-affiliated companies on Facebook or follow them on Twitter.

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In response, Mike Siemienas, a spokesman for the company, sent The New York Times an email stating that the policy does not apply to Facebook users.

"No one is precluded from suing us merely by purchasing our products at the store or liking one of our brand Facebook pages," he said.

However, those who accept a coupon in exchange for liking the company's Facebook page automatically agree to the terms laid out in the new policy, Siemienas added.

After making the policy change, General Mills issued the following statement in a banner at the top of its website: "We've updated our Privacy Policy. Please note we also have new Legal Terms which require all disputes related to the purchase or use of any General Mills product or service to be resolved through binding arbitration."

Binding arbitration prohibits consumers from taking their cases to court, forcing them to instead settle the issue in a private forum, even if they're badly injured by a company's product. The arbitration clause also requires one-on-one resolution of claims, precluding the possibility of a class action.

"Where the parties to a contract agree to use arbitration, a claim that may otherwise be heard and decided by the court or a jury, will instead be resolved by a private party, without the right to appeal the decision," said Twin Cities-based attorney Daniel Cragg.

"Arbitrators don't have to be lawyers, but almost always are in the case of a single arbitrator," Cragg said. "When you use a panel of arbitrators, sometimes you may see a non-lawyer with trade experience included. Strictly speaking, you could also agree that the arbitrators don't have to apply the law, but this is also rare."

General Mills, a frequent subject of lawsuits, is one of the first major food companies to enforce binding arbitration.



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8 comments
footnotegirl
footnotegirl

This should be updated. Apparently they reverted to their old legal policy this weekend and made an apology statement.

eatrealfood
eatrealfood

nobody with a brain eats their crap anymore, if you still do I advise you to turn the box around and check out the contents. Gross 

Robert Karstedt
Robert Karstedt

No problem. I'm no longer buying General Mills. Thanks for making it an easy decision

Carli Stark
Carli Stark

Almost definitely would lose in court if they tried to enforce it. Just like insurance companies with nonnegotiable arbitration clauses.

DavidFoureyes
DavidFoureyes topcommenter

You can't. But you also can't stop judges from dismissing the suit because you blindly agreed to terms that are absolutely anti-consumer horseshit.

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