In the year and a half since I documented my experience with Horizon Foods it has come to my attention that the company has gone out of business. I like to think I did my part in exposing this fraudulent operation and helping people avoid the abuse and heartache that it caused me. I hope this blog will survive for people to share their own stories of Horizon and/or similar scams. Be sure to check out the comments on each post, and good luck buying & selling!
So you might get a knock on the door one day that turns out to be some guy with a boxful of steaks, claiming he’s from Horizon Foods. He’s got a fantastic deal for you and this, my friend, is your lucky day!
Or you might be a job seeker looking for work and decide to finally check out the constant Help Wanted Ads from Horizon Foods, where you can make $10-$55 an hour.
You’ll save yourself a lot of time and frustration if you slam your front door and ignore the enticing job offer. Horizon Foods is a scam of the grand order, cheating customers by charging outrageous prices for food and exploiting employees before firing them and stealing their money.
PART I: The Customer Scam
Here’s how it works. The home customer is shown a variety of delicious-looking frozen food items: steak, lobster, shrimp, burgers, chicken cutlets, etc. Any time you express any interest in an item it gets put to the side, in the Sinister Stack. You may ask the salesman several times how much these items cost, but he will ignore you until the Stack is waist-high. At that point he will check his “price list” to total up your order. In actuality he’s taking a look at the car in your driveway, the clothes that you’re wearing, and coming up with the maximum amount of money he can bleed from a sucker like yourself.
When you balk at the outrageous price- sometimes upwards of $600- he will offer you a “special deal.” Don’t worry- he’s been planning this all along. You may notice that the food he’s offering costs twice as much per pound as the food you get at the grocery store. He’s got all sorts of comebacks: grocery stores are dirty, and Horizon doesn’t sell by the pound- they sell by the portion.
Your Double-Talk Detector should start howling immediately.
The salesman will then come back at you with the reduced price, the Ultra Special Deluxe Fantastic Offer, and you may be “saving” a hundred bucks off the original estimate… but you’re still paying $300 on average for three boxes of food that you don’t need. And the fun doesn’t end there. You get e-mails, and phone calls, and mailers, and return visits from a company that wants to make you a sucker for life.
Avoid the headache and aggravation… continue to shop where you shop now. Don’t waste your hard-earned money on over-priced meat sold off the back of a pickup truck. You’ve been warned.
PART II: The Employee Scam
I’m not just the whistleblower on the Horizon Foods Job Scam, I’m also a victim. My purpose is to inform and hopefully prevent any job-seeker from wasting their time, money and energy the same way I did.
After seeing the Help Wanted ad in the paper you will call your local Horizon Foods office, and they’ll tell you that they’re doing interviews tomorrow and ask you to come in at 9AM. First, they do interviews EVERYDAY. Secondly, they insist on 9AM because some of these “offices” are closed for the day by 1 or 2 o’clock in the afternoon. Are you seeing the red flags yet?
Your “interview” will consist of the office manager asking you maybe two questions before launching into their sales pitch about the job. He’ll hand you a chart of estimated earnings, and numbers start at anything from $600 a week to $1700. “Yep,” he’ll tell you, “all you have to do is get out there and hustle and you’ll be earning more cash than you ever have before… more money than you can spend.”
The simple trick is this: Only the office manager and five other managers- disguised as salesman- ever make any money. On Day One you’re partnered up with a Salesman Mentor, who will take you out in one of the company’s freezer trucks and show you how to push your meat on an unsuspecting public. Horizon Foods will never actually Hire you- they call it self-employment. This way, they can- and will- fire you at anytime and take your accounts back for themselves. So no matter how well you sell all you’re doing is setting up the managers to earn big bucks off the sweat of your unpaid labor. And who’s going to pay your unemployment when they let you go? They never hired you in the first place, so they owe you nothing.
When I started a salesman was being let go, and the managers simply took over his accounts and kept all the profit for themselves. This poor salesman worked for three months to earn as many customers as possible… he didn’t realize he was earning them for the managers, not for himself. It’s a poorly-disguised pyramid scheme that crumbles the moment you begin asking questions.
– You may not get a truck when promised as the result of “lapsed insurance.” A stalling tactic.
– You may be asked to pay $500- or even $1,000- as an “insurance premium” on the truck they give you. They’ll tell you that you’ll get your money back when you leave the company. You’ll never get your money back.
– You’re asked to sign a Non-Competitive Agreement which states that if- and when- you’re fired you won’t start your own company and sell to your old customers. This is so that the company can keep your customers and continue to make money off them.
– Mysterious names are mentioned in the office of employees you never see or meet. That’s because these employees do not exist. Their names are used as cautionary tales and motivational tools. “We had to fire ‘Jeff’ because he’s not selling enough, but ‘Bob’ already sold 50 boxes this week so you better get out there and start hustling.”
– You are strongly urged- all but forced- to work a six-day week, Monday through Saturday. 12 hours a day. This is to force you to generate as much business as possible, as soon as possible, so that they have lots of customers to steal from you once you burn out or are let go.
– There is a daily charge for use of the company van, completely illogical on its face since it is impossible to sell the product without the van. The daily charge ranges from $5 to $25 per day. Since you’re working a six-day week that’s up to $150 a week out of your pay.
– Like in any pyramid scheme, your Mentor gets upwards of $2o for every box you sell. For your entire time with the company. Translated: he’s sitting in the office making paper airplanes and taking half of your profits that you earned by spending 12 hours a day on the road, knocking on doors and hustling innocent people.
– You pay for your own gas in the truck that you drive. In a 16 gallon tank- with gas estimated at $2.75 a gallon, you’ll cover enough miles to fill your tank at least three times a week, costing you a minimum of $150 out of your own pocket.
– Managers and employees are vague on what you’re doing, what they’re doing, and what’s going on in the office and company beyond. Asking questions yield you non-answers or no answers at all. Stalling tactics are used to keep you waiting and eager to work. Managers will try to keep you enthusiastic by telling stories of how great the job is and how much money you’ll make. The warning signs are there, if you’re willing to take a good look.
I published this blog to try and save both customers and prospective employees time and money. In fairness, there are customers who don’t mind paying double the cost for frozen food, and there are managers in the company who are very happy with the setup that allows them to make money off the backs of unpaid salesman. This doesn’t change the fact that Horizon Foods is a disreputable, deceitful, exploitative organization masquerading as a legitimate business. But don’t take my word for it. Customers should listen to the prices and do their own math before buying. Employees should take a good look around the office and ask themselves what’s really going on.
Horizon Foods is a dirty business, and I hope I saved you from learning that the hard way.