General Mills withdraws new policy limiting consumers' right to sue


After facing several days of unrelenting criticism over a new legal policy which would take away consumers' rights to sue, General Mills announced late Saturday that it is withdrawing the new policy, the New York Times reports.

The Minnesota-based company, which makes hundreds of food products including Cheerios, Yoplait and Progresso, said on its website the new terms were "widely misread" and caused consumers to be concerned.

"So we’ve listened – and we’re changing them back to what they were before," the statement said.

The new policy came to light on Wednesday, when the New York Times first reported it. The new terms would have required consumers downloading coupons, “joining its online communities,” participating in sweepstakes and other promotions, and interacting with General Mills in a variety of other ways to agree to arbitration and forego the option of suing the company if there was a dispute.

The new policy was roundly criticized on social media, and on Friday the company clarified that it didn't apply to people who visit its Facebook pages and Twitter accounts. General Mills spokesman Mike Siemienas told the Times that the “online communities” mentioned in the policy referred only to those online communities hosted by General Mills on its own websites.

Despite the clarification, the company continued to feel pressure regarding its new terms, and issued another statement late Saturday saying that it decided to return to the previous legal terms which don't mention arbitration at all.

In the online posting, General Mills spokeswoman Kirstie Foster apologized to customers for the confusion.

"We’re sorry we even started down this path," she said. "We’ll just add that we never imagined this reaction. 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."

Foster is right in saying these arbitration requirements have become very common of late. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld them in 2011 in a case called AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion, according to Slate. AT&T, Sprint, eBay, Amazon, and Dropbox are a few of the companies that have included arbitration clauses and class-action waivers into their terms of service, Slate reports.

Only a tiny percentage of consumers ever bother to read the terms of service on a website before agreeing to accept them, according to a New York University researcher quoted by Slate. So without even realizing it, consumers and employees attempting to sue after being harmed by a corporation may find that they signed away their legal rights to do so.

Next Up

Screen Shot 2020-12-02 at 9.55.05 PM

Small plane lands on northbound I-35W in Twin Cities

A large police presence is at the scene.


Judge orders Minnesota gym that defied shutdown to close

Attorney General Keith Ellison sued the gym after it remained open.

montana cutbank

Charges: Man shot victim 'without provocation' using sawed-off shotgun

The incident happened on Nov. 24 in Ten Lake Township, located in Beltrami County.

Governor Tim Walz

Watch live: Walz, first responders address Minnesotans

Some departments have been forced to shift staffing or suspend service due to COVID-19.

covid-19, coronavirus

CDC says COVID-19 quarantine period can be cut to 10 or 7 days

You can come out of a 7-day quarantine following exposure provided you've had a negative test.

maple grove fire

1 person found dead inside Maple Grove business that burned down

A person had been unaccounted following the fire that destroyed Hanson Implement and Storage Tuesday night.

One-dollar bill, cash, money

Appeals court rules MN high school students can get unemployment benefits

They've been denied the benefits, and some were even asked to pay them back.

covid-19, coronavirus

Dec. 2 COVID-19 update: 77 more deaths in Minnesota

The death toll is closing in on 3,700 in Minnesota.

City Pages

Fan creates City Pages archive, Star Tribune tells him to remove it

After word spread that the defunct newspaper's website would go down, a fan created his own copy. Then he got a cease and desist letter.

Adam Thielen

Vikings activate Adam Thielen off COVID-19/reserve list

The star receiver missed last week's victory over Carolina.

Screen Shot 2020-12-02 at 10.27.14 AM

Naked man shot by St. Paul cop is charged for sexual assault of ex-girlfriend

The 31-year-old suspect remains at Regions Hospital after being shot.