Legal Terms
Apr 17, 2014 • By

Explaining our website privacy policy and legal terms

Editor’s note: We’re changing back. Consumers asked us to go back to our old legal terms, and we did. See our explanation – and apology – here.

The discussion about the changes to our online privacy policy and legal terms is being pretty broadly mischaracterized. Even Forbes acknowledges this.

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

Here’s an explanation, as we do want everyone to understand our policy as you visit and interact with us on our websites.

When you visit one of our websites, such as GeneralMills.com, you’ll see the following message pinned to the top of the page:

“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. For more information on these changes, please click here.”

When consumers interact with us online, such as subscribing to an online publication, entering a sweepstakes, or downloading coupons from websites such as Pillsbury.com or BettyCrocker.com, we list the legal terms guiding that interaction. These terms kick in only when you engage and agree, but even then, nothing in the policy precludes a consumer from pursuing a claim.

No one is precluded from suing us by purchasing our products at a store, and no one is precluded from suing us when they “like” one of our Facebook pages. That is just a mischaracterization.

But should an individual agree to the terms, they would then apply. That’s the point. But even then, the policy doesn’t preclude a consumer from pursuing a claim. It merely determines the forum.

It rarely happens actually. But if it does, arbitration is a straightforward and efficient way to resolve such disputes – and many companies take the same approach. We even cover the cost of arbitration in most cases.

So that’s it. This is a policy update and an update of our legal terms, and we’ve tried to communicate it in a clear and visible way. That attracted attention, which is good actually. Because we want people to know and understand our approach. But some of the comments that followed were just incorrect.

One more quick thing: We also provide the opportunity to opt out. Just notify us by email of your wishes. Downloading coupons, entering sweepstakes or subscribing to publications is entirely up to you. We’re just explaining our terms for those types of transactions.

And no. Nothing about this would impact current or pending lawsuits. It just wouldn’t. And social media sites like Facebook and Twitter have their own policies and terms of use, which is why “liking” one of our Facebook pages is entirely unrelated to this entire discussion.

We hope this helps explain what we’re doing. Because there’s a lot of misinformation out there today.

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  • Nancy Weber

    How does this language not mean precluded from suing? ‘ 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.”‘

    • blueturtles

      I guess they think we’re all stupid.

    • Flower

      You aren’t reading this closely. You aren’t precluding from suing if you use their products or like their FB pages – You would be required to use arbitration for a claim if you agree to their terms of use on their website and download coupons, enter sweepstakes. Make sense?

  • LadySiren

    While I understand why GM might want to do this, the way you went about it is absolutely terrible. The lack of transparency makes this look like a sly, underhanded, and very, very consumer-unfriendly move. Is it any wonder that American consumers no longer trust venerable brands that have previously stood the test of time?

    Shame on you for making a callous move like this one. I for one, will be voting with my wallet. I won’t give my money to corporations or brands that treat their consumers disrespectfully. My kids will live without that box of Lucky Charms or that next cup of Yoplait yogurt, especially with the sheer number of alternatives out there, manufactured by companies that don’t feel the need to trick their customers.

  • jrh0

    “. . .the policy doesn’t preclude a consumer from pursuing a claim. It merely determines the forum.” The “forum” of arbitration is one selected by General Mills purely because it is to their advantage! It is not in the interest of a consumer to use arbitration.

  • pdf9595

    What are the terms of binding arbitration? Is there a big expense to a
    consumer to seek arbitration? Does a consumer need a lawyer? Are
    class actions allowed? Are the terms so lopsided in favor of General
    Mills that the effect is to leave consumers with no practical remedies?
    These are some of the relevant questions.

  • Shana Dysert

    Dear GM,
    You didn’t “go back” or fix anything. You just clarified that Facebook likes will not force me into arbitration… To be specific; coupons, entering sweepstakes, and signing up for publications (print and email. Such as bettycrocker.com) will force me into arbitration. You lost a customer for life, and up until now I grew up on your products. I have never sued a company, have no plans to, but I have no respect for a company trying to force my hand. I get that here are crazies out there tryin to make a buck on your slip up, and I don’t agree with that either, but take some resposibiloty. Forced arbitration is still forced. I have the right to choose.

    I no longer choose General Mills or any of your brands or publications.

  • David Staudt

    Shakespeare wrote; “Kill all the laywers first”. Think he had a point even way back then. Go figure…

  • person

    When asked what a consumer should do, Richard Daynard, Northeastern Distinguished Professor of Law, responded, “A smart consumer would actually not buy General Mills products.”