Freezer Food Plans & Bulk Meat Sales

When considering using a freezer food plan or bulk meat service, remember to comparison shop before signing any contract. Determine if you can buy foods for freezing in quantity elsewhere that costs the same or less than those offered by a freezer food plan. You should be provided a price for meat based on net weight rather than a price per piece. Is meat on sale at your local grocery store offered at a lower price than the freezer food plan? Are vegetables in season cheaper to buy if purchased fresh and then frozen?

If you pay a membership fee, will you purchase a sufficient quantity of food to make up the difference of the initial membership fee? Is the cost of food in a plan low enough so that you will obtain savings over time? Read and understand any document before signing. Obtain a complete and detailed list of the exact quantities and qualities of the food you are buying with the freezer food plan. Beware of signing any document that says, "This is the order I selected and agreed to buy," "I have received the listed merchandise in good condition," in advance of checking your delivery.

If a firm selling meat or other food products approach you door to door or from a mobile retail unit, the company is required to offer you 3 days to cancel your purchase. A cancellation form with information about your rights and an address to send in your cancellation should be provided at the time of the sale. Such firms may also be required to have a license issued by your local health department as a mobile retail food establishment.

If a guarantee is given, make sure you know the full terms of what is covered and what is not and obtain a written copy. Determine the company's policy on refunds or exchanges on food that you can't use for any reason. Understand all costs that are included such as delivery, wrapping of meat, freezing, and finance charges on any appliances purchased.

Obtain references from the company to determine other customers' experiences. Beware of representations that a food plan will feed a family for a certain amount of time. There are many variables that will determine how long the food lasts, such as the size of your family, and how much you are accustomed to eating. If an appliance such as a freezer or microwave is offered, do you have to purchase this appliance? Is there a warranty for the appliance and if so, what is or is not covered? Finally, be cautious of any claims that state a freezer or other appliance will be "thrown in for free" with your food purchase. The price of the freezer may be included in the cost of the food purchased.

Questions or complaints about such plans may be referred to the BBB and your State Department of Agriculture.

LAK 5/2003