Can You Trust a Door-to-Door Meat Salesman?

6/1/2010

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When temperatures heat up, door-to-door salesmen start making their rounds selling any number of different products and services. While many door-to-door salesmen are honest, every summer, Better Business Bureau receives troubling complaints from consumers who purchased meat from door-to-door salesmen and were dissatisfied with the quality or even claim to have gotten food poisoning.

In a recent example, the BBB in Denver issued a warning about mounting complaints against a door-to-door meat salesman. According to complaints, customers spend an average of $185 on different kinds of meat, poultry and/or fish. Consumers have described the products as being, “inferior quality,” “tainted,” “not edible,” “old and freezer burnt” and “drowned in salt and preservatives”. Some complainants have also claimed to have gotten sick from the meat and one complainant described it as tasting “like chlorine.”

“Many people might be a little put off by the idea of buying steaks or seafood from the back of a truck, but the low price can often be tempting enough to override any fears about safety or quality,” said Alison Southwick, BBB spokesperson. “It’s not uncommon for a customer to waste hundreds of dollars on inferior meat and it is extremely important for your financial health, in addition to your personal health, that you do your research before you buy.”

Other common complaints to BBB against door-to-door meat sellers include claims that the customer received less meat than what they paid for, that the salesman did not have appropriate permits to sell food door to door and that the salesman failed to stand by the promised satisfaction guarantee.

When considering buying meat from a door-to-door salesman BBB recommends that consumers:

  • Do your research. Ask the salesmen for written material about the company and let them know you are going to research them first before doing business with them. Check the company’s Reliability Report with your BBB. Many communities have licensing and permit requirements for food vendors and for selling door-to-door; confirm with your city or county government that the seller is in line with the law. 

  • Don’t fall for empty promises. The seller might claim to offer a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee, but many complainants had no way to contact the seller if they were dissatisfied. Additionally, the seller might claim that the meat is a higher grade than it really is.

  • Never pay with cash. When paying by check or credit card you have at least some way to protect your money—such as canceling the check or reporting it as fraud to your credit card company. If you pay with cash and are dissatisfied, you’re at the mercy of the salesman.

  • Know your rights. If you decide to make a purchase, ask for a dated cancellation form and a dated receipt. Note that the Federal Trade Commission Cooling-Off Rule gives you three business days to cancel the purchase. Saturday is considered a business day.

  • Report the bad guys. If you feel that you were ripped off by a door-to-door salesmen, file a complaint with your Better Business Bureau. Also report any unlicensed salesmen to the appropriate city or county authorities.

Consumers with questions about purchasing meat can contact the USDA'S Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-674-6854.

For more advice to help you make smart purchasing decisions, visit http://www.bbb.org/us/consumer-tips-product-purchasing/.

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