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BBB: Meat sellers offer rotten deal

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Posted: Friday, April 22, 2011 12:00 pm

By Rose L. Thayer

Killeen Daily Herald

The Better Business Bureau is warning area residents of door-to-door meat salespeople representing Ranch House Quality Meats.

This is the same company the bureau warned about last April.

Consumers have reported that Ranch House representatives use high-pressure sales tactics to collect hundreds, sometimes thousands, of dollars in cash, and then never deliver the meat. Others have complained of receiving spoiled meat.

Tracey McKeever of Killeen dealt with the company complaint-free for about a year. She began purchasing frozen meat when a salesman came to her door in her neighborhood off W.S. Young Drive and Westcliff Road.

"I never had a problem dealing with him and spending money until about the last week in January of this year," McKeever said.

During that visit, the salesman brought a co-worker who claimed to be the boss' son.

McKeever said she felt pressured into buying more than normal and the post-dated check she wrote was cashed before the agreed-upon date.

In February, the salesman proposed a deal to deliver a new freezer fully stocked with meat. McKeever decided to use her income tax refund and paid him more than $1,600 in cash. After failing to deliver on several dates, he finally stopped responding to McKeever's calls, texts and voice messages.

"I found out from two other Ranch House employees that he took off to Florida," McKeever said. "It irritates me that we became really good friends with (him) and then he does this."

McKeever said she has tried calling the Ranch House main office in Austin, without success.

Nearly 50 complaints about Ranch House have been filed with the bureau over the last three years; 19 of those were in the Killeen area.

The bureau has not received a response from Ranch House regarding 39 of 48 complaints processed in the past three years.

Richard Kitterman, the Harker Heights-based regional bureau director, said people should be cautious of anyone who knocks on their doors selling something. "Like any industry, everybody shouldn't be painted with a broad brush, but they should be checked out to find out who the good guys are and who they are not."

Ranch House's practices have negatively impacted another Texas business.

In Menard, Marsha Stabel runs the 33-year-old mail order business Ranch House Meat Company.

She said she gets calls all the time from people who find her company online and confuse it with Ranch House Quality Meats.

"We are in no way associated with the scam artists at Ranch House Quality Meats," Stabel said.

Eventually, she said, she put a disclaimer at the bottom of her website saying the same.

"I feel so badly about that because I know those people have been taken advantage of and are frustrated and concerned. All we can do is tell them I'm so sorry, but it isn't us."

Attempts to reach Ranch House Quality Meats Thursday were unsuccessful.

Contact Rose L. Thayer at rthayer@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7463. Follow her on Twitter at KDHreporter.

Tips for door-to-door sales

The Better Business Bureau recommends consumers consider the following tips when doing business with a door-to-door salesperson:

Ask solicitors to confirm their business is licensed and registered with the Texas secretary of state.

Always research the company before making a purchase. Go to www.bbb.org.

Resist high-pressure sales tactics, including aggressive or persuasive rebuttals to concerns, deep discounts upon immediate payment or persistent refusal to take "no" for an answer.

Get transaction details in writing.

Remember the Federal Trade Commission's "Three-Day Cooling-Off Rule," which gives consumers three days to cancel purchases of more than $25 made at a location that is not the seller's permanent place of business.

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