General Mills requires coupon users to give up right to sue
General Mills must have some pretty valuable digital coupons. In its newly updated privacy and legal policy, the Cheerios manufacturer requires individuals who want to download offers to agree not to sue the company. The same rules apply for any person going on any General Mills-owned website or for participants in sweepstakes or contests created by the company.
Those who want the coupons agree to go through an arbitration process should they have a problem with the company’s products. By engaging in arbitration, the company avoids dealing with costly class action lawsuits, minimizing monetary damages and public relations issues (case related documents are not made public) even in cases when it loses.
General Mills has had some costly legal run-ins of late. The company settled a class action suit for $8.5 million last year after it was accused of making false claims about the health benefits associated with its Yoplait Yo-Plus Yogurt. In 2012, it agreed to remove a picture of strawberries from its Strawberry Fruit Roll-Ups packaging after it was discovered the product didn’t contain the fruit as an ingredient.
Last month, a judge ruled against General Mills when the company sought to have a suit, accusing the company of false advertising, dismissed. In this most recent case, General Mills is accused of labeling its Nature Valley products as "100% Natural" when they contain genetically modified organisms and processed ingredients.
The New York Times, which initially broke the story, pointed out that by signing the agreement, even parents of children with peanut allergies would be unable to sue the company if a packaging mistake was made and their kids ate a food that contained trace amounts.
- When ‘Liking’ a Brand Online Voids the Right to Sue – The New York Times (tiered sub.)
- General Mills Says If You ‘Like’ It On Facebook, You Can Never Sue The Company – Business Insider
- General Mills: If You Clip This Coupon, You Can’t Sue Us! – The Atlantic
Will General Mills’ new legal policy affect consumers’ perceptions of the company and its business? Do you expect this type of policy to become commonplace with other CPG companies?