Victory for Consumer Rights: General Mills Drops its Forced Arbitration Clause
General Mills announced on April 19, 2014 that it removed a forced arbitration clause in its terms of service. Forced arbitration is an abusive practice where corporations force customers into a dispute mill that is rigged and secretive. The corporations pick the arbitrator and the arbitrator's decision is final - you have no ability to appeal or ever go to court.
We applaud General Mills for responding to the outcry of its customers by abandoning the abusive practice of forced arbitration. This sends a clear message to every corporation that attempts to evade the law through forced arbitration – your customers expect you to be accountable for your products and services and to respect our rights to access justice.
This is a victory for consumer rights, but unfortunately forced arbitration has infiltrated nearly all aspects of American life. Americans are still subjected to forced arbitration clauses when they use credit cards, talk on their cell phones, visit websites, start a new job, enroll their children in camps, and even admit a loved one into a nursing home.
This diversion of justice must be stopped. To start, we are calling on the following ten corporations to follow General Mills' lead and eliminate forced arbitration clauses buried in the fine print:
- American Express
- Charles Schwab
- Kindred Nursing Center
- Sallie Mae
This is only the tip of the iceberg. An untold number of corporations force arbitration on their customers.
Background on General Mills’ Fine Print Trix
- General Mills attempted to grant itself a license to lie and break the law.
- On March 26, 2014 a judge denied a motion to dismiss in the deceptive marketing in food labeling lawsuit against General Mills [Rojas v. General Mills].
- One week later, on April 2, 2014, General Mills quietly updated their legal terms to include a sweeping forced arbitration clause.
- General Mills’ forced arbitration clause eliminated consumers’ rights to hold General Mills accountable in court, cut off consumers’ rights under state laws, designated the arbitrator to decide the validity of the forced arbitration clause – not a judge –and kept the proceedings of forced arbitration secret.
- On April 17, 2014 the New York Times broke the story about General Mills’ move to eliminate their customers’ rights.
- After extensive public pressure, on April 19, 2014, General Mills yielded to consumers and dropped its forced arbitration clause.