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May 14, 2004

Attorney General Sues Door-to-Door Meat Seller

State alleges "All American Foods" of Wisconsin misrepresented meat and violated Door-to-Door Sales Act.

Charles City.   The Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division filed a lawsuit today alleging that "All American Foods" misrepresented meat it was selling door-to-door in Iowa and violated Iowa's Door-to-Door Sales Act.

"We allege that All American gave false information to consumers," said Attorney General Tom Miller. "For example, sales persons claimed they had been unable to sell the meat to a nearby restaurant or store for which the meat was intended. That created a false impression that the meat was being sold at a bargain price right then, and that the potential buyer needed to make a snap-decision whether or not to buy," he said.

"All American also failed to give the price-per-pound, which is required for meat," Miller said. "And they failed to give consumers their right-to-cancel information as required by Iowa law."

The consumer fraud lawsuit, filed today in Floyd County District Court in Charles City, names as defendants Country Manor Distributors, Inc., of Hudson, Wisconsin, doing business in Iowa as "All American Foods," and James Leis, owner and operator of All American Foods.

The suit asks the Court to order the defendants to stop further violations, pay restitution to complainants, and pay civil penalties.


"Be very cautious and skeptical of door-to-door sales of meat or seafood," Miller said. "Scams have been around for years. The classic misrepresentation is that the meat is available at cut-rate prices because it is left over from another delivery, or because the sales person was unable to complete an expected sale to a nearby restaurant or retailer," he said.

"In reality, the price usually turns out to be very high, although consumers can't tell that at first because there is no itemized list of cuts and the price per pound. Finally, consumers have a very hard time canceling and getting a refund," Miller said.

According to affidavits filed with the lawsuit, consumers who complained to the Attorney General's Office paid amounts ranging from $169 to $525 to All American Foods. Door-to-door salesmen gave various reasons for the purported "savings" people would obtain - because of unexpected loss of sales to a restaurant or wholesaler, and in one instance because the local VFW had purchased less than expected. In that instance, the Howard County consumer called the VFW and found the VFW had not purchased any meat from All American. The suit was filed in Floyd County, home of a Nora Springs couple that purchased meat from All American.

A Bancroft, Iowa, couple who weighed the meat they bought determined that the cost of the meat added up to $8-9 per pound. In each case, meat was not weighed or priced per pound, so as to allow for fair market comparison, as required by Iowa law.

Iowa's Door-to-Door Sales Act (Ch. 555A):

Iowa's Door-to-Door Sales Act protects consumers for purchases of $25 or more made at a place other than the seller's normal place of business -- at a consumer's door, for example, or at a tent sale, hotel conference, fair grounds, etc. (The law does not apply to sales at stores.)

Buyers have a right to cancel within three business days and receive a full refund within ten business days of the business receiving the cancellation notice.

Sellers also must orally inform buyers of their right to cancel at the time of the sale, must provide two copies of the notice of the buyer's right to cancel, and must provide a receipt or copy of any contract pertaining to a door-to-door sale.

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