Mysterious meat sales concern Palo Alto residents

Door-to-door salesmen falsely claim other neighbors bought meat, residents said

Barron Park neighborhood residents have been puzzling over mysterious meat salesmen in blue trucks who have been knocking on their doors recently.

Mid-to-late last week, the salesmen from the company Prime Selection, Inc., claimed to have overstock to unload after selling the meats to neighbors whom they specified by name. But several residents said that when they checked, their neighbors hadn't bought any.

Lynnie Melena, Barron Park Association president, said a salesperson stopped by her home.

"When we declined, they said they were actually wanting to give it away. We declined again, and they drove off," she said.

Prime Selection offers beef, poultry, seafood, wild game and other meats and has offices in San Diego, Los Angeles and San Jose, according to its website.

Some residents said this was not their first encounter with door-to-door meat vendors. In the past few months salespeople have shown up in the Duveneck-St Francis and Old Palo Alto neighborhoods.

But high-pressure sales tactics, only one brochure, no business cards and the previously mentioned non-existent customers have residents leery, they said.

Francoise Lang said a salesman became upset last week after she told him her husband said she should not buy from them. He began to "argue" with her, demanding to know why, she said.

"It wasn't a pleasant experience as I felt I couldn't just say 'no' and had to justify myself," Lang said.

A few years ago she experienced the same thing, she said.

Vanessa Leighton, who is a vegetarian, said the salesmen also approached her a few months ago when she lived in Old Palo Alto.

"Same story ... extra meat, delivering to others in the neighborhood," she said.

Pepa Richardson, also a vegetarian, said salesmen approached her a few months ago, too.

"I told them we were vegetarians, and that shut him up, and he left," she said.

Palo Alto's city ordinance does not allow door-to-door solicitation without a permit, and Prime Selection does not have the permit, Code Enforcement Officer Heather Johnson said Monday. She had not received any complaints, but said she would contact the company.

Prime Selection President Glen Dimino said the tactics residents are describing are "wrong" and that the company does not condone vendors trying to build their customer bases using such techniques. There is no reason for a vendor to misrepresent the product, Dimino said, adding that he stands behind his products' quality.

The company does sell to outside vendors who purchase from the processing plant, he said. The vendors buy the product by the pallet to resell. Those vendors can also carry products from other companies on their truck. The contractors are responsible for all licenses and permits and obeying laws, he said.

The company also leases its trucks to vendors. The salespeople would not have Prime Selection brochures or business cards, since they often represent many other company products, he said.

If residents are having a problem with a vendor who is delivering meat in a Prime Selection truck, they should note the truck number and the telephone number that is painted on the vehicle and call Prime Selection, he said.

"If there are more than two complaints about a contractor, we won't lease the vehicle to them. You want your representatives to be honest. Residents can call us to complain," he said.

Dimino said that about 90 percent of meat vendors sell other companies' products from an unmarked car or truck.

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1 person likes this
Posted by not interested
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 15, 2011 at 3:10 pm

Just tell the salesman "no thank you" or "not interested" and shut the door. Works 100% of the time. Arguing with a salesman is silly when you have no interest in his products. Salesman always assume if you talk to them for more than 5 seconds that you are playing hard to get, not turning them down.

Like this comment
Posted by MeatMan
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 15, 2011 at 3:20 pm

Thankfully they haven't knocked on my door, but that is really annoying. I think sometimes young people are lured by classifieds promising "advertising jobs" or something like that, and they promise huge commissions for selling stuff in this manner. I naively went to a job "interview" like that once, and the "interviewer" was completely bewildered and almost angry that I didn't want to get involved.

I have seen a couple other examples of this type of thing in action. Once at Lozano car wash, this girl leaned in the window of my car while I was waiting for the vacuums and started spraying me with cologne and fast-talking about how my wife would love it. I said no a couple of times and finally had to get angry before she left.

Another time, I was at the Starbucks at Rengstorff and Middlefield (yes, I've been known to frequent businesses in Mountain View) and this guy came in and started pitching the poor cashier about these "vacations" he was selling - just a real hard sell, with lots of salesman questions like, "do you have a girlfriend?" "who are you going to take on the trip" and blah blah blah.

I'm sure these people are just trying to make some coin, they aren't evil or anything. Just remember you can always say no, and you never have to engage anyone in conversation. You can just ignore them if you want...its your right!

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 15, 2011 at 3:38 pm

What is the mystery meat they are selling? Dog? Horse? Something else?

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Posted by PurplePeopleEater
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 15, 2011 at 3:45 pm

My Wife and I had a sales man come to our door a few months back. They used the exact same line. Kinda creepy, I would never buy something like meat from some stranger driving around in a van.

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Posted by Retired Teacher
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 15, 2011 at 3:58 pm

We actually bought some of the meat from the fast talking sales rep who kept lowering the price. I wouldn't call it creepy, but it was definitely a con. The meat looked ok, but tasted like it had been injected with water, and when we checked on the web, other customers had the same perception. We often share the extra food we get from Costco with food banks; I think this box ended up that way as well. Hope they made it into a good stew--that would be the best use.

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Posted by PADenizen
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 15, 2011 at 4:27 pm

It's easy for me because I have a window by my door, so I can just look out there and see who is knocking. I don't open the door to strangers but I can make sure it's not a new neighbor by calling through the window. If they start to try to sell me something, I just smile, wave and walk away from the window.

2 people like this
Posted by Big Al
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 15, 2011 at 5:19 pm

These guys came by my place in mt. view a couple weeks back. Seemed a little shady to me. Checked them out on YELP and started to connect the dots. They have been pushing their products this way all over the south bay. I recommend using yelp whenever these small companies are in question. It helps to set the record strait.

Like this comment
Posted by trouble
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 15, 2011 at 7:27 pm

We put up a "no solicitors" sign on our door because of hard sell salespeople. That helps, but we still get people ringing our doorbell and wanting us to sign some petition or other. I don't want to explain my politics on my doorstep. Even when I agree with the cause, I find it just leads to more and more of the same. $5 today, but then starts the phone calls, etc., so I don't donate anymore at my door.

Often, they are argumentative and want an explanation which I find very offensive. Even had 2nd day adventists try to engage me in a long conversation with the "how are you" and "we are neighbors" (NOT -- they were from Los Altos) and so on to try to get you engaged in discussing your religious beliefs. Good Grief!

My neighbor suggested not opening the door, and that's what we do now, although it means we might miss a real neighbor sometimes.

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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Nov 15, 2011 at 8:10 pm

With all of the problems that are caused by factory-farmed meat, it makes sense to say no to these guys, besides their invasive tactics.

We had a guy recently who was selling frozen meals. I think it was Stouffers or similar, but higher end. Still, it was weird, albeit legit - you can have Safeway deliver that stuff if it's your thing.

My sympathy to those getting these creepy meat salesmen at their door - it sounds sort of "Sopranos" to me.

Like this comment
Posted by Zelda
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 15, 2011 at 8:21 pm

Invest in a peep hole,you will see what nincompoop is at your door and you will yXZwfnot need to answer. Pure and simple- not rocket science.

Like this comment
Posted by Jon S
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 15, 2011 at 8:37 pm

Please remember, most people are just trying to make a living, they're not out to do harm. Say "No thank you." I fear financial advisors and hedge fund managers more, even though they drive nice new cars.

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Nov 15, 2011 at 9:59 pm

I've seen these guys around our neighborhood too. They approached ne as I was leaving the house. It was weird and I did not think it was normal. I hope the cops do something about them.

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Posted by Carlos
a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 15, 2011 at 11:35 pm

I've seen them in the neighborhood in previous years. Didn't think they would get much business w/ this type of a sales model.
The fact that they are back tells me (a) they are very desperate to unload their merchandise, or (b) maybe they are some in the neighborhood who have bought from them, and this is actually a good market for them.
Just thinking about all that meat sitting in that truck for who knows how long makes me want to switch to a vegan diet.

Like this comment
Posted by daniel
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 16, 2011 at 7:17 am

I once had an at&t solicitor(young, female and very pretty), knock on my door and then get very mad after I politely refused to switch to the at&t bundle she was offering. She practically screamed at me when she realized she had no sale and then slammed the gate as hard as could on her way out.

2 people like this
Posted by Alphonso
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Nov 16, 2011 at 7:47 am

People have told me the frozen meat and seafood is very good. I can remember days in the past when milk, bread, vegetables, water and ice cream were all delivered by truck - some of the stuff was ordered and some was not. The only mystery is why some people are so freaked out.

Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 16, 2011 at 8:47 am

What is the mystery meat?

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Posted by Hoo Aryu
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 16, 2011 at 9:23 am

[Post removed.]

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Posted by Sarah
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 16, 2011 at 10:48 am

Thanks for sharing the new and thoughts. It's important to know what's going on in town. A strong community should be.

Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 16, 2011 at 11:18 am

I am really surprised that no one other than me seems to be concerned about this "mystery meat".

What is this meat? Has it been bred and butchered in humane and sanitary conditions? Has it been genetically engineered? Is this actually someone's stolen pet goat, or cat, sold as meat? Were the animals tested on in some laboratory that makes them unfit for human consumption? Is there cattle rustling going on in the Central Valley? It sounds to me that this is possibly meat rejected by local markets and has a reason for not being sold in legitimate fashion.

When we have fruit vendors on street corners selling their wares, we ask all sorts of questions. Why not for meat?

Don't get me wrong. I grew up having milk and bread delivered to my door and can even remember fish and egg vans outside our house. I have nothing against enterprise from local reputable sellers, but is this the case here?

I wouldn't buy from the fruit vendors as I have no idea as to its safety and I wouldn't do the same with mystery meat. Someone should be checking on the validity of the meat.

2 people like this
Posted by Hulkamania
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 16, 2011 at 11:18 am

Has anyone got to the meat of the mystery?

Like this comment
Posted by Asian-American Mom
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 16, 2011 at 12:05 pm

I once had an Amnesty International rep show up at my door. When I asked who it was, she said in a worried tone, "It's your neighbor!" I ran to the door and, without checking through the peephole, flung it open because I was concerned that one of my dear neighbors was in trouble. Needless to say, I was extremely upset that the rep tricked me. She wouldn't let me close the door until I committed to something - either signing her petition for who-knows-what or donating to the cause.

I never provide my personal information or sign anything for door-to-door solicitors. If I am feeling really cornered, I just give them cash to get rid of them. This way, they can't track me down, steal my identity, or put me on their mailing list. If they "steal" the cash for their own personal use, that's on their conscience - not mine.

Unfortunately, like birds to breadcrumbs, giving cash might attract more of these situations, but at least I can resolve the immediate problem.

One safety tip: If you are alone at home and someone rings your doorbell, yell, "I'll get the door!" to give the person the idea that someone else is at home with you. This way, if they were initially inclined to do something bad, they will think twice.

Like this comment
Posted by Amanda
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 16, 2011 at 12:20 pm

I bought meat for the first time from another company 2 years ago. I have never had bad meat. The chicken was my faviorate, juicy even the next day. Just use your brain, some are good guys, some are bad. My meat was USDA approved.

Like this comment
Posted by Too Funny
a resident of another community
on Nov 16, 2011 at 1:09 pm

I have been wondering where all the squirrels and crows have gone. They are no longer in my "backyard" lolol but have apparently reappeared in different form in Palo Alto. I didn't even chase them away.

P.S. Just because someone knocks at your door does not mean you have to open it. DUH - hahahah.

Like this comment
Posted by Vaberie
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 16, 2011 at 2:02 pm

At least they are hard working people trying to sell something for money.. Who cares what they say while making a living as long as I don't see them with a sign begging it. For doing NOTHING!!! Sure come to my house and ask me! If it's something I don't want I'll let you know...

Like this comment
Posted by Sue Dremann
Palo Alto Weekly staff writer
on Nov 16, 2011 at 2:50 pm

Sue Dremann is a registered user.

There is no "mystery meat," only mysterious meat salesmen.

Like this comment
Posted by Factory farms or WORSE
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 16, 2011 at 2:50 pm

SUPER CREEPY.... trafficking animal meat. Who knows how those animals died or lived. Beware, those of you who only want to save money. You may be paying down the road...

Like this comment
Posted by lite
a resident of another community
on Nov 16, 2011 at 7:33 pm

I'd venture to say that in most cases you don't know much more about the meat you buy in the stores than you do about the meat being peddled door to door.

Like this comment
Posted by FrankBooth
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 16, 2011 at 10:42 pm

'Sounds like a very interesting dinner party.

1 person likes this
Posted by Dick
a resident of Los Altos
on Nov 17, 2011 at 2:36 am

Prime Select? These guys sell pretty good steaks and the marinated chicken is excellent. Before they closed, the meat guy at andronico's was a jerk to my wife. These guys gave my wife a free box of steakburgers. I'm pretty sure they are just trying to earn a living.

Like this comment
Posted by Gary T.
a resident of Palo Alto Orchards
on Nov 19, 2011 at 7:31 pm

Palo Alto is a very educated neighborhood, the "mystery meat" comes inside LABELED boxes, with contents of which kind of animal it comes from, READ them! These men are just trying to make a litving doing one of the toughest jobs out there. If you are not interested, say no, simple as that. No need to bash them for trying to feed their families.

Like this comment
Posted by LISA
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 19, 2011 at 8:26 pm


Like this comment
Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 19, 2011 at 8:58 pm

No reason whatsoever to open your door to an unknown person/door to door salesperson/potential huckster/criminal.
Keep your safety in mind first. Put up a "no solicitors" sign. These folks have no right to be on your property.
Thanks for the warning of this story - I had never heard of this (what I consider to be) scam. Using neighbors' names in this fashion wouldn't impress me either way...

Like this comment
Posted by Joanne Oliver
a resident of Meadow Park
on May 25, 2012 at 6:14 pm

Oh great. My daughters boyfriend just started working for this company. I really can't see him being a high pressure salesman. Guess rent will be late again. argh!

Like this comment
Posted by Midterm neighbor
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 25, 2013 at 12:30 pm

They are back!!! Knocking on doors in midtown--with "steaks to sell for a great deal!" Creepy.

Like this comment
Posted by HalloweenScary
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 25, 2013 at 1:08 pm

You may ask where the homeless people have gone now that Palo Alto passed the anti-homeless ordinance ... free mystery meat? .... maybe not ... who's to say?

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Posted by gabriel aragon
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 4, 2013 at 12:25 pm

to put an end to this mystery, the beef is raised and grazed by a company named (pause for effect) sterling meat...
how about this mystery website were i can clearly type what ever i want, and know one will check the source..wait B.B.B checks the source of their complaints., to see if any important matters even get check the oldest approval raitings for any small business. and who rates a meat company at 2am,,,(really) ...

Like this comment
Posted by Bernadette Hsing
a resident of another community
on May 15, 2015 at 1:08 pm

A few years back I was driving slowly next to this truck and the truck driver persuaded me to take a look at his meats. I was very skeptical at first and after he explained how the business operates, I decided to trust him and I bought a large pack of hamburger.

Honest to God, this was the best hamburger meat I've ever had! It was very delicious and no, I never got sick from it.

I think buyers need to be very cautious and make sure the driver is legit and call the agency to confirm if the seller is legit. Get the license number etc. That's what I did.

I am a homeowner in Foster City, CA and you can trust this company hands on. -Bernadette Hsing

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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