Lenoir City woman seeks refund from misleading frozen food deal

DON DARE -6 On Your Side Consumer Investigator

LENOIR CITY (WATE) - A door-to-door meat salesman who sold some frozen food to a mother of six apparently was not aware that customers can cancel their order within three days.

She called 6 On Your Side saying the salesman hung up on her when she tried to cancel last month. Since then there have been new developments.

State consumer rules are specific on this issue. If a salesperson knocks on your door and you buy the product, then later decide you want to cancel, the three-day cooling off period applies.

Kayce Bailey found her request to cancel her order was ignored until 6 On Your Side got involved.

Bailey bought a case of frozen beef on December 5 from a door-to-door salesman.

"If it was everything that he said it was, which was local and grass fed and antibiotic free and all these things, I thought, why not. Let's give some a try," said Bailey.

She says the unsolicited salesman who came to her house represented Volunteer Meat and Seafood. The company's headquarters is based in Powell.

The bargain priced meats fit in perfectly for her family of six kids, and Bailey says based on what the salesman told her, the quality of the beef matched what she usually buys at the grocery store.

"He said this was all antibiotic, hormone free, grass fed local. He said it was comparable to Earth Fare," Bailey said. "Local means to me, no further than North Carolina, which is where Earth Fare gets most of, if not all of their meat. Told me it was local, later said it was from Illinois."

However, soon after her purchase, Bailey discovered the meat is not local. They're all from Boca Raton, Florida.

Initially the salesman wanted her to buy $500 worth of beef as well as chicken. Bailey settled on just the beef and wrote a check on the spot for $201.

When she realized the meat was from out-of-state and after checking on the company, Bailey changed her mind about the sale.

"I called him very quickly, yes. Called him at 3:30 and spoke to him for four minutes regarding my concerns," she said.

Bailey's cell phone shows that on December 5, she called the salesman to cancel her order the same day she bought the food.

"He said he would have to call his boss. And I said, 'I need this to happen very quickly. It is important to me that it happens very quickly.' That's when he just hung up on me," said Bailey.

Regarding door-to-door salespeople, Tennessee's consumer law states if the seller makes first contact and the sale takes place in your home or the phone, you have three days to cancel.

If you cancel, the seller has 10 business days to return your money. After 20 business days, if the goods aren't picked up, you can keep them.

Just before the holidays, we called Volunteer Meat and Seafood and left a message. Bailey had also called the company.

Later, we contacted salesman Joseph Faddoul. He said he was not aware that door-to-door salesmen selling frozen food were subject to the three day cooling off period. 

Nevertheless, Faddoul said he' was going to take care of Bailey immediately, which he did.

"I got my full refund of $201.02," said Bailey.

The check came from the owner of Volunteer Meat and Seafood, James Hampton Jr. He also sent a note saying he was sorry for the way Bailey had been treated.

"He apologized and said he is largely uninvolved with most of his salesmen and his company anymore, but he hopes to do better at that," said Bailey.

Because of the door to door sales rule, Bailey also got to keep the frozen meats.

If someone unannounced comes to your door, calls you on the phone, or you go to a seminar at a hotel or ballroom, the three-day period applies.

They are also supposed to explain that you can cancel the deal if you wish.

The three-day cooling period does not apply to vehicles, either new or used.