Cpurtesy Michelle Coffey, blog.marketwtch.com
If you like Cheerios, you may want to keep it to yourself.
The Fortune 500 powerhouse notes a change in legal terms, warning on its website:
So consumers who follow General Mills brands on social networks, subscribe to newsletters, enter sweepstakes, print coupons or benefit in any way using the site also enter a contract with the company, waiving all rights to future lawsuits.
General Mills even hinted that consumers who buy the products could be bound by those terms, according to the New York Times, who reached out to the company about its changes.
Food companies are increasingly facing more class-action lawsuits over labeling and ingredients. Last year, General Mills shelled out $8.5 million to settle a suit over how it labeled its Yoplait Yo-Plus yogurt. In 2012, two women sued the company over claims its Nature Valley products were 100% natural, alleging highly processed ingredients were used. That same year, it settled another suit over Strawberry Fruit Roll-Ups, agreeing to remove the word “strawberry” from its packaging.
Credit-card and mobile-phone companies are known for placing airtight restrictions in contracts, but this may be the first instance of a major food manufacturer attempting to block lawsuits.
Lawyers told the New York Times that General Mills’s new language will raise legal questions. And the next time it faces legal action, General Mills will likely need to prove the consumer had prior knowledge of the policy before a court can weigh in about whether the company can be sued, arbitration experts told the Times.