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West Orange Times & Observer Thursday, May 5, 2016 3 years ago

Steak van solicitors concern locals

Food King vendors are accused of aggressive pitches in areas marked “No soliciting.”
by: Zak Kerr Staff Writer/Reporter

WINTER GARDEN  Local residents have been contacting the Winter Garden Police Department regarding meat sales from a van soliciting their neighborhoods, a company called Food King.

Although representatives said Food King has been making deliveries in the area for years, residents have maintained concerns with a salesman's methods.

“He said that he was from a company called Food King and that he had just delivered steaks to one of my neighbors, and that he had some left over that he would sell me ... at a discount,” resident Jeff Tomasi said. “I told him that I wasn't interested, but he was incredibly pushy. He wanted to come in, and I told him no. Then he repeatedly insisted on me coming outside to his van to check out the merchandise. I repeatedly told him no, to which he kept fighting and insisting.”

Tomasi and others believe this might indicate scoping behavior to pick out homes to rob, but others have said the sales are legitimate, albeit not always terrific.

“The meat is awful, but the company is legit,” Brynn Briggs said. “I called and complained. The man zoned for our area is extremely pushy ... He scoped out our garage before he came to my door. When I told him I wasn't interested, he told me that we had room because he saw the freezer in our garage.”

Food King, which also might go by Family Friendly Foods Inc., is not accredited by the Better Business Bureau, which says the company is based in Clearwater. BBB lists 31 complaints against Food King in the last three years, 13 of those within the past year. The overwhelming theme is awful meat and pushy salesmen.

“This business has a history of violating BBB name and logo policy and has falsely stated BBB accreditation or referenced the BBB name in an unauthorized manner, despite BBB's efforts to get the business to cease using the BBB trademark,” Food King's BBB profile says. “This use of the BBB trademark constitutes trademark infringement and is a violation of trademark rights of the Council of Better Business Bureaus Inc.”

Several complainants have said they would ask police to trespass Food King from their neighborhoods, based on not allowing solicitors in their area, with clearly posted signs. Others have warned they would shoot and cite 'stand your ground' laws.

But Sherry Podany Snider said she had purchased meat from Food King that tasted bad, but the meat she received as a replacement was much better.

“The food and meat is actually pretty good,” Clermont resident Shawna Genua said. “My guy wasn't pushy at all. We talked in the driveway and I wasn't alone.”

Zachary Anderson, a Food King salesman, has vouched in favor of his company.

“I have (worked) for this company for 13 years,” Anderson said, accusing Tomasi of slander. “I don't believe in taking something that doesn't belong to me.  … I dare somebody to pull a weapon on me – that'll be the last thing that someone does, because whether I die or not, I can promise you somebody's going to prison. I take pride in my job and in my company, so if you have something to say, why don't you call the Better Business Bureau or the police so they can straighten this out?”

Winter Garden Police Lt. Scott Allen said one incident in Winter Garden involved an employee attempting to give free food to a resident.

“There was no aggressiveness, only a subject who was trying to get rid of some food,” Allen said.

Oakland Police Department officials had no reports of Food King but have encouraged residents to contact their police department's non-emergency number if approached by any solicitors.


Contact Zak Kerr at [email protected].

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