Tennessee residents may be interested to know that General Mills, a corporation that owns Nature Valley and some cereal brands, has a new legal policy for those who use coupons on their products. Under the new terms, if a consumer uses a coupon, they lose their right to sue the company.
This is a policy known as "forced arbitration." Over the years, it has become increasingly popular among large corporations who use these tactics to keep consumers from banning together in order to sue. General Mills, for example, has settled several lawsuits at a high cost in recent years for false advertising. In 2012, they reportedly settled a lawsuit for marketing a product that did not contain strawberries even though the label suggested it did.
General Mills posted the new legal terms on its corporate website warning potential consumers. The site stated that any use of coupons or joining their online community is completely voluntary but immediately binds consumers to the terms if they chose to do so. This means that if a child or an adult suffers a reaction from cross-contamination of something that they are allergic to and a coupon was used to purchase the item, that individual cannot sue the company.
Companies that produce products for consumers are responsible for ensuring that the products are safe. However, forced arbitration may make it difficult for those who consume dangerous products to seek compensation for any injuries that they suffer. If someone is harmed from a defective product, an attorney may help an individual determine if he or she has a case against the company and through the legal process that the person may need to take in order to seek compensation.
Source: The Atlantic, "General Mills: If You Clip This Coupon, You Can't Sue Us!", Derek Thompson, April 17, 2014