We are announcing today that we have reverted back to our prior legal terms, which contain no mention of arbitration.
A statement from General Mills • Walking back a much-criticized policy that would have essentially replaced the consumer’s right to sue the company with an online arbitration process. The move drew much heat after The New York Times wrote an article on the practice last week.
Most people pay no attention to terms of service. Maybe they heard somewhere that they probably weren’t enforceable. Or something. Most of us aren’t worth suing anyway, even if they were. And frankly, you can’t even exist if you read every one of the click-throughs that pops up. If you use a Windows Surface 2 for the purpose it is advertised, you violate the EULA. I saw an agreement earlier today that said that the terms could change without notice so you should review it every time you visit the site. Nobody does this.
If you want to unleash a bit of chaos on the world, try pulling this sort of stunt yourself. Send a letter to General Mills saying that by accepting a coupon tendered by you they agree to donate $50 to your favorite nonprofit. Or make it a bit different. Or maybe your IP address in it and say that by sending data from their website to that IP address they agree that any future contracts of adhesion between you and the company must be negotiated in Klingon. Or perhaps that by continuing to send data to your IP address will replace the obligations of both parties with those used in standard industry practice.
(Or maybe don’t. There’s a very real chance you’d end up with some sort of blacklisted IP address and a letter from an anxious lawyer.)
The existence of “contracts” that nobody reads, nobody understands, and nobody expects to be enforceable does a real violence to contract law.