Your right to sue? Don’t ‘Like’ a Brand Online

Wow is this a rotten, underhanded, corporate small-print thing! And corporations, apparently not yet at ease with their immense power and profits, have been doing amoral stuff like this to us individuals for quite a while now.

They have been blocking us consumers from suing them for poisoning us, killing us, lying about stuff like bad ignitions. They have made every effort to limit their responsibility to rectify their wrongs − some financial, some fatal.

But if you have thought my antagonism toward large corporations is exaggerated, read this new bit of evil, When ‘Liking’ a Brand Online Voids the Right to Sue –

Might downloading a 50-cent coupon for Cheerios cost you legal rights?

General Mills, the maker of cereals like Cheerios and Chex as well as brands like Bisquick and Betty Crocker, has quietly added language to its website to alert consumers that they give up their right to sue the company if they download coupons, “join” it in online communities like Facebook, enter a company-sponsored sweepstakes or contest or interact with it in a variety of other ways.

Instead, anyone who has received anything that could be construed as a benefit and who then has a dispute with the company over its products will have to use informal negotiation via email or go through arbitration to seek relief, according to the new terms posted on its site.

In language added on Tuesday after The New York Times contacted it about the changes, General Mills seemed to go even further, suggesting that buying its products would bind consumers to those terms.  [My emphasis]

So don’t buy General Mills products. If you get poisoned by a bad batch of Cheerios which you have “liked” on Facebook (don’t “like” anything on Facebook! Why endorse, i.e., help advertise a corporation’s products? They have enough money to do their own advertising without dragging you, the hapless consumer, into their sales pitches), when you’re in a hospital bed and realize you no longer “like” it, well, too bad.

It was many years ago when I understood that corporations were amoral but I’m just thunderstruck at the advances − not in technology, not in product development, but in how to evade legal liability. At least one group at these corporations has been working very, very hard to improve their profits: lawyers.

UPDATE 4/19/2014. Oops, General Mills misspoke (Boy do I loathe that word.) A day after the above Times article, here’s the “amendment, written by Stephanie Strom:  “General Mills Amends New Legal Policies – Some excerpts from the last New York Times article, with my [comments]:

The company was responding to an article in the New York Times on Thursday about the new policy…Asked for comment before the article was published, company representatives declined to make anyone available for interview and issued a brief statement instead.

In an email received Thursday, Mike Siemienas, a General Mills spokesman [the one who wasn’t available originally?], said the “online communities” mentioned in the policy referred only to those online communities hosted by the company on its own websites.



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