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General Mills Website Policy Could be 'Clicking' Your Rights Away

Updated: 04/19/2014 9:25 PM
Created: 04/18/2014 6:11 PM KSTP.com
By: Brad Sattin

Could clicking "Like" on a company's Facebook page, entering their sweepstakes, or downloading their coupons cost you your right to take that company to court?

Some consumer advocates are raising their eyebrows at the new website privacy policy for General Mills, saying it could do just that.

The new policy for the Golden Valley-based company reads, in part:

"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."

The policy means that a consumer who has interacted online with the company can still sue, but the case will be settled by an arbitrator rather than inside a courtroom. The company says arbitration is a more efficient way of handling disputes, and General Mills will usually pay the costs.

But Dan Kleinberger, a former Consumer Division Attorney with the Minnesota Attorney General's Office and Emeritus Professor at William Mitchell College of Law, says a broad policy that ties electronic communications to a consumer's rights to sue the company is unusual.

General Mills says many companies have the same policy, and consumers can opt out by notifying them via email.

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UPDATE: Since our story ran on April 18, General Mills has reverted its policy back to its previous form and has issued an apology.


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