(DES MOINES, Iowa) Attorney General Tom Miller has settled an investigation of door-to-door meat and other food products by Iowa Steak Company, LLC, a West Des Moines company.
After fielding complaints from Iowa consumers, the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division conducted an investigation and concluded that the company’s sales staff made false or misleading statements when selling door-to-door. The investigation also concluded that Iowa Steak Company violated the state Door-to-Door Sales Act and the Iowa Consumer Fraud Act by failing to give consumers their three-day right to cancel. The company denied violating the Consumer Fraud Act or any other law.
The settlement, reached last month through an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance (AVC), requires Iowa Steak Company to cease using false or misleading sales tactics and to comply with the Door-to-Door Sales Act. The AVC provides that any violations by the company will be violations of the Consumer Fraud Act and will authorize a court to impose civil penalties up to $5,000 for each day of violation.
Miller said that his office has obtained refunds for Iowa consumers throughout the investigation. He added that any consumers who wish to file a complaint for a refund may contact the Consumer Protection Division.
Follow these tips when dealing with door-to-door meat or food sellers:
- Be cautious of door-to-door meat, seafood and produce sellers who stop unannounced. While there are some legitimate companies that sell food door to door (especially those that come to deliver orders placed by consumers), be wary of the product’s quality and the price.
- Shop for the best prices and focus on price per pound. Don't be swayed by price-per-serving claims. That's a meaningless and bogus comparison.
- Insist on written notification of your three-day right to cancel. Iowa law gives you three business days to cancel a purchase at your door, and get a full refund for any unused product. The law also requires the seller to tell you of this right, and to give you two written notices of the right. Don't buy from any door-to-door seller who does not give you the proper cancellation notices.
- Write down license plate numbers and descriptions. Help law enforcement officials by recording pertinent information about suspected scam artists and contacting your local authorities. Some sellers may be wanted in other states or localities.
"Be wary 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," Miller said. “Finally, consumers have a very hard time canceling and getting a refund.”
Miller added that consumers should be aware that sometimes the quality of meat sold door-to-door can be inferior.
Consumers who would like to file a complaint about door-to-door sales may file a complaint by using the complaint form on the Attorney General’s website: www.IowaAttorneyGeneral.gov, by e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org, or may write to the Consumer Protection Division, Hoover Building, Des Moines, Iowa 50319.
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