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Company says policy was misunderstood

General Mills backs off on arbitration clause

That didn’t take long.

Customers spoke and General Mills listened.

Last week the maker or Cheerios and Betty Crocker announced on its website that customers who participate in loyalty programs or join the company’s online communities cannot join class action lawsuits. By opting in to one of the many programs on the General Mills website, customers would be agreeing to binding arbitration if they had a problem with one of the company’s products.

The New York Times picked up the story and the reaction ranged from outrage to indignity.

Over the weekend, General Mills posted a statement on its company website that said it was abandoning the new legal terms with the arbitration provision. In part it reads:

We rarely have disputes with consumers – and arbitration would have simply streamlined how complaints are handled. Many companies do the same, and we felt it would be helpful.

But consumers didn’t like it.

So we’ve reverted back to our prior terms. 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

In 2013, General Mills paid $8.5 million to settle lawsuits challenging health claims made on Yoplait Yoplus yogurt packaging. The change in legal terms this year came after a court refused to dismiss a lawsuit about claims that Nature Valley products are “natural” when the ingredients could be genetically modified or processed.

 

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