General Mills backtracks on forced arbitration; reverts to former legal policy


Last week, General Mills changed its legal policy to prohibit those who download coupons, enter sweepstakes, or join online communities from suing the company. Instead, customers would be forced to resolve complaints through arbitration.

In response to widespread criticism General Mills received over the policy change, the company quickly reversed its position and went back to its original legal policy on Friday afternoon. See also: Download a coupon, forfeit your rights? General Mills restricts consumers' rights to sue

The announcement was posted by Kirstie Foster, the director of external communications, on General Mills' blog.

"Those terms - and our intentions - were widely misread, causing concern among consumers," the post reads. "So we've listened - and we're changing them back to what they were before."

The company never anticipated such an overwhelmingly negative response, Foster writes.

"Similar terms are common in all sorts of consumer contracts, and arbitration clauses don't cause anyone to waive a valid legal claim. They only specify a cost-effective means of resolving such matters. At no time was anyone ever precluded from suing us by purchasing one of our products at a store or liking one of our Facebook pages. That was either a mischaracterization - or just very misunderstood," she says.

Still, concerned cereal-lovers can breathe a sigh of relief, as the current legal policy states in no uncertain terms that forced arbitration is off the table.

"There's no mention of arbitration, and the arbitration provisions we had posted were never enforced. Nor will they be. We stipulate for all purposes that our recent Legal Terms have been terminated, that the arbitration provisions are void, and that they are not, and never have been, of any legal effect," she writes, adding that "that last bit is from our lawyers."

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