Over the past year, hundreds of you have asked Whistleblower for help. While we can’t investigate each tip, we want to share more of what you tell us. In 2009, we started publishing a few tips each week to stimulate online discussion and create ways for our readers to help each other. Unlike our news stories, we have not verified this information. If you have a tip, send it to whistleblower@startribune.com.

A Whistleblower reader named Arnold said the salesman who came to his door in Robbinsdale last fall caught him at a vulnerable moment. The next thing he knew, Arnold said, the peddler had walked him out to a refrigerated truck, and he had handed over $340 for two 20-pound boxes of meat.

Arnold, 75, cooked himself a steak. It took no small force to slice through it, even with a steak knife. “Shoe leather,” is how he described it. “I can buy better in the meat market right here in town.”

Arnold complained once, and the salesman replaced some of the meat. The replacements weren't much better.

Arnold didn’t know it until he called Whistleblower, but the U.S. Department of Agriculture warns people about the perils of mobile meat sellers. There's a USDA checklist for consumers to ensure they're not buying mystery meat.

But these peddlers are counting on people like Arnold, who don't read the literature or realize they have three days to get out of any door-to-door deal.  

Personally, I can't imagine buying a turnip from someone at my door, much less a box of meat from a truck. But knowing how vulnerable some people are, should government do more to restrict door-to-door peddlers? Or does the government already do too much?

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