Better Business Bureau (BBB) advises consumers to use caution when doing business with Homestead Steaks, LLC, a Webb City, Missouri, business that sells frozen meats. Numerous consumers allege the business sold inferior meat products and provided overall poor customer service.
The business has an “F” rating, the lowest on BBB’s scale. Consumers from 13 states have filed complaints about the business, which sells its goods at temporary locations throughout the U.S., usually in mall and shopping center parking lots.
A Belleville, Illinois, man told BBB he paid Homestead Steaks, LLC $160 for a meat bundle after visiting a truck at St. Clair Square in Fairview Heights, Illinois, in September 2018. He said he believed he was buying prime steaks. The man said he cooked some of the steaks the next day and claimed the food had an odd odor and was full of gristle.
The man said he could not contact the company for a refund because he could not find a contact number or email for Homestead Steaks, LLC. The man said he stopped at the truck after seeing a promotion of 20 ribeye steaks for $25, but said he was upsold to the package he purchased. The man eventually received a refund from the business.
A San Antonio, Texas, man stated he spent $400 in February 2019 on a package of meat that he said was not good quality. The man said he smelled a foul odor coming from the meat after opening a package the day after his purchase. He did not cook the meat. When he attempted to return the product, the truck was no longer there.
Getting a refund, the man said, was difficult. He did not receive a refund until five weeks after his purchase with assistance from BBB.
A man from Riverside, California, stated he purchased what he believed was a prime beef package for $150 in March 2019. The man said the meat smelled bad and did not look right after he cooked a few pieces of it. He was unable to return the meat to the location from which he purchased it and has requested a chargeback on his credit card.
“When you purchase goods at a temporary location, it’s important to get contact information and to understand the business’ refund policies and procedures,” said Michelle L. Corey, BBB St. Louis president and CEO. “If you are looking for a good deal on a large amount of meat, research prices before you buy. The deal being offered might not be the best one for you.”
According to Missouri secretary of state records, Homestead Steaks, LLC was formed in March 2012. The business is owned by Melissa Charlene Gatlin. It markets its goods through homesteadsteaks.com. It is also active on social media with an Instagram page (@homesteadsteaks) and three Facebook pages – Homestead Steaks, Mall Mega Meat Market and Meat Sale 20 Ribeyes $25.
According to the company, it holds approximately 200 sales per year throughout the U.S. The company said it stays at each location 30 days or as long as a permit allows.
“We are always fully licensed by each health department, each city, and each state,” the company wrote in response to a BBB inquiry. “Each customer is shown the actual product before purchasing. Our products are seasoned and then flash frozen to ensure freshness and then are also inspected by the health department before even leaving the warehouse.”
Homestead Steaks is one of several meat distribution businesses associated with Gatlin. She is listed as the registered agent in Missouri secretary of state records for Midwest Choice Distributors, LLC; Midwest Best Choice Distributors, LLC; Frontier Specialty Meats, LLC; and Midwest Steak, LLC.
In October 2013, Omaha Steaks International, Inc. filed a federal civil suit against Gatlin, her husband, Corey, and the five businesses, claiming trademark infringement. In February 2014, the court ruled in Omaha Steaks’ favor and stopped Gatlin’s businesses from using any trademarks, names or logos associated with Omaha Steaks.
BBB offers the following tips for consumers buying meat in bulk:
Research any business and its owners carefully before paying any money. Check the company’s BBB Business Profile at bbb.org or by calling 888-996-3887.
Don’t fall for empty promises. The seller might claim to offer a 100 percent satisfaction guarantee, but complainants may not have contact information on the seller if later they are dissatisfied. The seller might also claim the meat is a higher grade than it really is. Ask the seller to put in writing the grade of the meat and then check the meat’s grade when you receive it. The packaging should be labelled.
Pay with a credit card in case you need to challenge the purchase later.
Consumers with questions about purchasing meat can contact the USDA’s Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-674-6854.
If you decide to make a purchase, ask for a dated cancellation form and a dated receipt. The Federal Trade Commission’s Cooling-Off Rule gives consumers three business days to cancel the purchase. Saturday is considered a business day.