When temperatures rise, door-to-door salespeople start making their rounds, selling any number of different products and services, including food. While many door-to-door sellers are honest, every summer Better Business Bureau receives troubling complaints from consumers who purchased meat from door-to-door salespeople and were dissatisfied with the quality or even claimed to have gotten food poisoning from the products.
In a recent example, Denver BBB issued a warning about mounting complaints against one door-to-door meat seller. The consumers said they spent an average of $185 on different kinds of meat, poultry and/or fish. They described the products as being “inferior quality,” “tainted,” “not edible,” “old and freezer burnt” and “drowned in salt and preservatives”. Some consumers also claimed they got sick from the meat, with one person describing the meat as tasting “like chlorine.”
Other common complaints to BBB about door-to-door meat sellers include claims that customers received less meat than what they paid for, and that the salesperson failed to stand by a promised satisfaction guarantee.
Though the potential savings may be substantial enough to offset many people's fears about safety or quality, those savings can be wiped out if you end up with hundreds of dollars of inferior quality food. It is essential to research before you buy to protect your investment, as well as your and your family’s health.
If you are considering buying meat from a door-to-door salesperson, BBB recommends you:
- Do your research - Ask sellers for written material about their companies and let them know you are going to research them before making any decision about making a purchase. Check the company’s Reliability Report at bbb.org. Many communities have licensing and permit requirements for food vendors and door-to-door sales. 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.
- Never pay with cash - If you pay with cash and are dissatisfied, you likely have no way of getting your money back. Checks and credit cards give you ways to protect your investment, such as canceling the check or reporting the purchase as fraud to your credit card company.
- Know your rights - If you decide to make a purchase, ask for a dated cancellation form and a dated receipt. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Cooling-Off Rule gives you three business days to cancel the purchase. Saturday is considered a business day.
- Report any problems - If you feel that you were cheated by a door-to-door seller, file a complaint with your Better Business Bureau.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has a Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-674-6854 for more information about purchasing meat and other fresh food products.
For more advice on making smart purchasing decisions, visit http://www.bbb.org/us/consumer-tips-product-purchasing/