General Mills The New Sue Nazi? Customers, No Sue For You!

Privacy Policy

As parents we have all broken into a cold sweat when we take the kids into a store filled with fragile gifts and we see the dreaded sign –

“If You Break It, You Buy It!”

I always found that policy a little strong and didn’t convey the best customer service.  Now, General Mills has taken things to a whole new level with their new slogan…

“If We Break Glass, Put It in The Cheerios, You Buy It, You Can NOT Sue Us!”

Fine, that is not the actual General Mills tags line, let us explain…

Move Over Soup Nazi, Now We Have a Sue Nazi…

Seinfeld fans remember the Soup Nazi, who decided who got soup and “no soup for you!”  Now General Mills is playing the role of Sue Nazi and saying “no sue for you!” to its customers.

Before the General Mills lawyers get all excited about suing us – we admit it, we made up that tag line (but it would be really catchy if put to music).   Of course, if we ran our company like General Mills, they wouldn’t be able to sue us anyway.  Let’s back up and explain what is going on.

General Mills, the makers of such things as Cheerios, Bisquick, Betty Crocker and Yoplait, just updated their privacy policy on their site.  Here is what you see when you visit their site now –

“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.”

You can follow the links above, but let me break it down for you – if you interact with General Mills in any way, and something goes wrong, you can NOT sue them.

We Must Have This Wrong, Like General Mills and Give Up The Right To Sue???

This sounds so crazy – like one of those Urban Legends, however, unlike the story of Mikey exploding after mixing Pop Rocks and soda, this one is sadly true.  Here is the exact wording from the General Mills site –

• New provisions relating to any disputes. These new provisions contain an agreement to resolve any and all disputes you may have with General Mills or any of its affiliated companies or brands contain through informal negotiations and, if these negotiations fail, through binding arbitration.  This includes disputes related to the purchase or use of any General Mills product or service.  All arbitrations will be conducted on an individual basis; you may not arbitrate as a member of a class.  Claims may not be brought in court (with the limited exception of small claims court in certain circumstances), nor may you participate in any class action litigation. (See Section 3, “Binding Arbitration.”)”

General Mills Legal Update

How Do You Give Up Your Right to Sue?

Like any General Mills FaceBook page – kiss your right to sue goodbye.  Download a coupon – give up the right to sue.  Enter any promotion, yep no sue for you.  The crazy thing is, it looks like just buying any General Mills product is enough to forgo your right to sue.  There is a great article in the New York Times which has more information, but it is clear that General Mills is trying to eliminate the customers right to bring a law suit.

What Could Possibly Go Wrong With a Food Product?

Just about everything.  Imagine your child has a nut allergy and a General Mills nut free product ends up having nuts in it?  It is horrible to think about, but it is not unfathomable that a disgruntled employee could contaminate a product.   Things happen – intentionally and unintentionally.  General Mills makes things we ingest, so if ever there was a company that should be held in check by our  legal system, it would be General Mills.

Make A Better Product, Not A Better Privacy Policy

As described in the NYT article, perhaps the most disturbing thing about all this, is why this change in privacy policy came about.   On March 26 a judge in California ruled against a General Mills motion to dismiss a case brought by two mothers who contended that the company deceptively marketed its Nature Valley products as “natural” when they contained processed and genetically engineered ingredients.

Shortly after this ruling, General Mills updated their Privacy Policy to stop people from suing them.  It wasn’t just this lawsuit that prompted the change, General Mills was probably not happy over the Strawberry Fruit Roll-Ups lawsuit.  Yeah, turns out the Strawberry Fruit Roll-Ups, don’t contain any strawberries.

Here’s the point – General Mills, you are getting sued a lot and don’t like it – we feel your pain.  The thing is, the proper response to this is – MAKE BETTER PRODUCTS! Try making Strawberry Fruit Roll-Ups with strawberries.  What about an All Natural granola bar that uses all natural ingredients?  Here, to help you out – I made a bumper sticker for you…

GM Bumper

A Great Example Of How NOT To Use Social Media

Have a large brand and want to learn how to NOT do social media?  Just follow the lead of General Mills.  This whole thing is just bad PR everywhere you look.  Brands are dying for people to Like, Follow and interact with their brand on social media.  In fact, it is very common to offer a bribe for Liking or joining an email list.  Like Us and get $5 off.  General Mills has a different approach… Like Us and give up your legal rights.  Hmm, not quite seeing the benefit for me.

Now General Mills is getting lots of press…none of it good.  After reading all this – are you more or less likely to go Like General Mills and interact with the brand?  Is there anyone at General Mills who thought a single person would read the new Privacy Policy and say “cool – I have been waiting for a company to take away my legal rights.”  Of course not, they just hoped no one would notice.

General Mills, we are not that dumb.  We notice when your food is filled with GMOs.  We notice when your Strawberry Roll-Ups have no strawberries.  We also notice when a company decides to limit our legal rights rather than better their product.  Come on General Mills – treat your customers with some respect, we are not as dumb as you think.

More Information:

We strongly recommend you read the NYT piece on General Mills – well done!

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