General Mills is parent company to household names like Cheerios and Bisquik. It recently added binding arbitration language to its on-line consumer agreements.
Scott Michelman with Public Citizen says that means a consumer could lose the right to sue in court.
“You’re average consumer reading a contract on-line doesn’t click through all the fine print to find all the sorts of hidden traps,” says Michelman.
General Mills said in a statement that it is not removing anyone’s right to dispute a transaction, only determining the forum where the dispute would be heard.
Public Citizen is representing a Utah couple who were sued by a novelty gift company for complaining on-line about shoddy service. The couple were unaware they’d signed a “non-disparagement” clause hidden in the fine print of an agreement they signed years earlier.
A bill that will be heard Tuesday in the California legislature would require companies to take reasonable steps to insure customers are aware of what they’re signing, or face penalties.