During the summer months everyone likes to fire up the grill and enjoy the full flavors of Iowa ag products. Whether its beef, pork, chicken, turkey or some fresh sweet corn, food hot off the grill is hard to beat.
The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship has heard complaints recently about door-to-door meat scams. While there are certainly reputable and legitimate companies that sell food door-to-door, some customers are reporting that they have had a bad experience. Some customers say this meat has been very tough and, at times, even inedible. Others have reported that companies have been unwilling to honor their "money back guarantees."
Here are a number of simple tips from the Iowa Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division that can help you make sure any products you buy from these vendors represent Iowa's best, not an inferior product.
- Watch out for sellers who come to your door out of the blue telling you that a buyer in your area couldn't take the order, so they can offer the product at a lower than normal price. This is a common lie told to trick buyers into thinking they are getting a deal.
- Watch out for claims of prices "per serving." This is illegal in Iowa and a common trick used to confuse buyers about the real price. Meat must be sold at a price per pound.
- Watch out for claims of "restaurant quality." "Restaurant quality" is not a recognized meat grade and in fact may actually indicate that the meat is of poor quality.
- By law, any door-to-door seller must give the buyer a three-day right to cancel. Don't buy from any seller who doesn't give you oral notice of this right and provide you with two copies of a written notice giving you three business days to cancel for a refund.
- Be wary, however, of claims of "guaranteed" refunds.
- Ask the seller to leave written materials so you can consider the purchase and order on another day. Don't buy from anyone who refuses to leave written materials and pressures you to buy now.
- Write down license plate numbers and descriptions. This can help law enforcement officials track any scam artists down and see if they are wanted in any other states or localities.
- To check whether a complaint has been received against a company or to report a door-to-door food scam, contact the Iowa Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division. You can call them at 515-281-5926 or toll-free at 1-888-777-4590. You can also learn more online at www.IowaAttorneyGeneral.org.
"If you follow these tips, you'll be well positioned to fully enjoy the grilling season and protect yourself from any unethical salesman that may come to your door," says Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey.