Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Sources of High-Quality Online/Mail-Order Food


MarkIsCooking
 Share

Recommended Posts

Last week I placed an order for some meat online. I had asked the purveryors several questions about their products prior to placing the order, including some products listed as "sold out" as well as those in stock. I told them if the "sold out" items would be restocked soon, I would postpone my order, otherwise I would place it immediately. Shipping was going to amount to roughly 10% of my order, and I did not want to increase that percentage. They told me I should go ahead a place my order of items they had in stock, as they would probably not be receiving additional stock until the end of the month.

I placed the order, and received a "your order has been shipped" notice, and in that order, they said they were out of stock of one of the items I wanted, so they could not ship it. Then they said they were looking forward to my next order!! With the order as sent, shipping amounted to a whopping 20% of the total order--peanuts for some, but not for me.

My questions:

Should they not have informed me that one of the items I wanted was out-of-stock before they processed and shipped the order? I certainly would not have placed it the order had I known they would not have included that particular item (it was one of the items I had especially wanted, and I had first inquired about it when I contacted them--it was listed as "in stock" when I placed my order. It's brisket, by the way, and it's almost impossible to find in stores in Japan).

If the unshipped item is re-ordered, who should be responsible for paying for the shipping of said item?

From their "we're looking forward to your next order" comment, I'm guessing they think I should place another order when that item is in stock again (they say in about two weeks), and pay for the shipping. If that happened, I would only be ordering that item, and then shipping would be about 40% of the total order. It's not going to happen. . .

I have contacted them, and am waiting to hear what their response is, but in general, how should back-orders, etc. be handled by retail food outets? If I'm going to argue with them about this, I need some ammunition!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That is annoying.

I ordered some things online from Dean & Deluca last year. When the order came, I discovered it was broken up with some items backordered. Phoned them and they assured me the shipping on the remaining items would be on the house. That's the only food order I can recall placing that wound up being incomplete, and I realize it's not exactly a parallel situation to yours, since I did not have to place a re-order. Anyway, I would hope all you would have to do is remind them of the discussion that took place initially, and they would make it up to you, ideally by waiving charges for shipping the brisket, assuming you are willing to re-order.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks, Tess. I just heard from them, and they apologized and said they would waive the shipping charge if I were willing to reorder the item.

They also said, however:

This means that often it is not possible to stay on top of which products are in stock and which are not until the last minute.  Most of our customers prefer partial shipments rather than nothing at all.  We unfortunately don't have the manpower to ask each one every time what they would prefer, so when an out of stock item will take more than a few days to come back in stock and the out of stock items are only a small percentage of the sale, we ship it off.

Even though it's a small company, I don't see how it's not possible to keep track of stock, and I definitely don't see how difficult it would be to e-mail people whose orders may be incomplete due to insufficient stock. It's just a courtesy, in my opinion, and one that any business should provide!

At the very least, they should have a box to check on the order page (like Amazon does) asking customers if they would prefer to hold the order until complete or to ship in incomplete.

Oh well. It's done, and now I just have to decide if I want to go through with the rest of my order. I really wanted to make that corned beef!! (And plus I ordered their par-baked rye bread so I could have corned beef sandwiches, and now I'll have rye bread with no corned beef!!!)

At least I'll have my pork belly so I can start on my bacon!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is similar to Costco business delivery. You order a bunch of items, get charged for delivery, and then don't find out until the order is delivered whether some items were out of stock. And they do NOT then deliver the out of stock items for free. Kind of annoying.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is similar to Costco business delivery. You order a bunch of items, get charged for delivery, and then don't find out until the order is delivered whether some items were out of stock. And they do NOT then deliver the out of stock items for free. Kind of annoying.

I'm not sure if Costco inventories everything. I recall ordering an item and getting it directly from the manufacturer. But I may be mistaken. Not every company can afford a computerized inventory system that communicates between the incoming order department and the warehouse/shipping operation. I agree that the customer should be given a choice about whether to receive an incomplete shipment and no additional shipping should be charged.

Ilene

Link to comment
Share on other sites

For me, that's a good enough reason to find another vendor. It could be worth ordering through a Japanese company (for example through Rakuten) if your Japanese is up to it, as some companies serving the expat community in Japan are a bit lackadaisical about shipping.

I've taken to ordering rice in 30 kg lots and flour in 10-15 kg lots. More than one company meets my criteria (mostly price!) but the companies that get my business are the ones that tell me within 24 hours of ordering if there is going to be any kind of delay, and the ones that have various options for processing and packaging of bulk orders right on the main order page (e.g. do I want all my rice polished or only some, do I want my bulk order in one package or in several small packages, etc.).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

For me, that's a good enough reason to find another vendor. It could be worth ordering through a Japanese company (for example through Rakuten) if your Japanese is up to it, as some companies serving the expat community in Japan are a bit lackadaisical about shipping.

I've taken to ordering rice in 30 kg lots and flour in 10-15 kg lots. More than one company meets my criteria (mostly price!) but the companies that get my business are the ones that tell me within 24 hours of ordering if there is going to be any kind of delay, and the ones that have various options for processing and packaging of bulk orders right on the main order page (e.g. do I want all my rice polished or only some, do I want my bulk order in one package or in several small packages, etc.).

That's service! Of the internet shopping I've done in Japan, the best service was from the guy I tried to order the Meyer lemons from. He called me within an hour of my placing the order to tell me they were out of stock (out of season, actually).

I've been looking for other sources of brisket, and have not had much luck so far. It seems most of the brisket in Japan is pre-sliced for bulgogi or yakiniku (I can't remember which, but it's also very very expensive), and larger pieces of brisket are much much more expensive than what this guy is selling for. I did find a source for reasonably priced brisket, but I'd be required to buy two 1-1.5 kg pieces, which doubles what I'm willing to spend and leaves me with an extra brisket I won't need (I've only got 35 weeks left in Japan,so I don't think I need that much meat).

I guess if I really want corned beef (and I do!!), I'll have to go back to this guy. He did offer to cover the shipping if a re-ordered it, so in that sense, he's made up for the goof. And I got a free pack of Polish sausage even though I didn't put the freebie code with my order (I e-mailed it later).

mukki--I'm surprised about Costco. I checked their website, and according to their FAQ:

Out of inventory. In the event there is not enough inventory of an item to complete your order (or if an item is no longer available), you will receive an email prior to the cancellation to notify you that the item is out of stock.

Assuming Costco Business follows the same terms of service as Costco.com, then they should notify you that the item is not in stock before your order is received. I'd call and complain.

Beanie--you may be right about not being able to afford a more sophisticated inventory system. It is a small company, though it does do both retail and wholesale business. But yes, they should definitely have some kind of option to cancel the order if an item is out of stock. Perhaps most of their customers order a lot more than I did, so they would rather have an imcomplete order than none at all, but I only ordered a few things, so it was really quite inconvenient for me!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 years later...

Maybe my google mojo is wearing thin these days - but is there a supplier anywhere that carries the full line of boars head products online? I've found a few random products, but alas, nothing complete. And not what I want (corned beef, pastrami, small hard pepperoni).

I know there's better products, but I've got a bit of an emotional connection to the BH product and there's nothing within hundreds of miles of me...

Any ideas?

PastaMeshugana

"The roar of the greasepaint, the smell of the crowd."

"What's hunger got to do with anything?" - My Father

My eG Food Blog (2011)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Maybe contact Boar's Head directly and ask them?

"There is no sincerer love than the love of food."  -George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, Act 1

 

Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and the accompanying readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 9 years later...

Yes, I know ham appears in many topics, but I want to know what my options are a far as ordering online. Here's what I want: A half city ham, bone-in, good quality. I want to glaze it myself, because many pre-glazed hams seem too sweet or too much the same and many recipes for glazing sound really interesting. 

 

So, my questions are:

1) Which is better tasting meat? the butt end or the shank? My understanding is that the butt end is more flavorful  but a little harder to carve. Do purveyors of half hams give you a choice? 

2) Is there a down side to spiral cut? I believe we are capable of carving a ham ourselves; picture perfect slices is not essential.

3) Does only the shank end come spiral cut because it has only the one bone?

4) This would be for xmas, so I have time. I assume if you order a fresh ham the purveyor will tell you when to order it. Fresh would be my choice, without knowing much about it. I don't like defrosting meat. 

5) What are your favorite places to order a city ham?

6) Price. I'm not looking for budget, but never having done this before I don't want to break the bank, either. We have one local butcher in the East Bay that has very good quality products, but their city hams are $27 per pound. That seems really expensive: a seven pound ham would be almost $200. I've noticed that a few places will ship for free if it is your first order. It would be, since I never order meat on line.

 

So did I forget any important considerations? My daughter, her husband and toddler twins are coming over the holidays. Dad and the girls seems to especially like porky products, and we will be away for several days so it would be nice to have something that will serve us for a few days. Thanks in advance. I have no idea what I'm doing, really! 

 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

re your #2, I personally hate spiral hams.   The outside 1 1/2" of each slice gets dried out.    Plus, whatever glaze they use runs into the interior, so that when you go to use leftover ham in cooking you have to cope with that sweetness.   Yuck, to me.    A good city ham slices easily and in the thickness you WANT!

  • Like 1

eGullet member #80.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

18 hours ago, Katie Meadow said:

Yes, I know ham appears in many topics, but I want to know what my options are a far as ordering online. Here's what I want: A half city ham, bone-in, good quality. I want to glaze it myself, because many pre-glazed hams seem too sweet or too much the same and many recipes for glazing sound really interesting. 

 

So, my questions are:

1) Which is better tasting meat? the butt end or the shank? My understanding is that the butt end is more flavorful  but a little harder to carve. Do purveyors of half hams give you a choice? 

2) Is there a down side to spiral cut? I believe we are capable of carving a ham ourselves; picture perfect slices is not essential.

3) Does only the shank end come spiral cut because it has only the one bone?

4) This would be for xmas, so I have time. I assume if you order a fresh ham the purveyor will tell you when to order it. Fresh would be my choice, without knowing much about it. I don't like defrosting meat. 

5) What are your favorite places to order a city ham?

6) Price. I'm not looking for budget, but never having done this before I don't want to break the bank, either. We have one local butcher in the East Bay that has very good quality products, but their city hams are $27 per pound. That seems really expensive: a seven pound ham would be almost $200. I've noticed that a few places will ship for free if it is your first order. It would be, since I never order meat on line.

 

So did I forget any important considerations? My daughter, her husband and toddler twins are coming over the holidays. Dad and the girls seems to especially like porky products, and we will be away for several days so it would be nice to have something that will serve us for a few days. Thanks in advance. I have no idea what I'm doing, really! 

 


I highly recommend Petit Jean hams, here. Bacon is excellent, too.

Don't ask. Eat it.

www.kayatthekeyboard.wordpress.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Hams, whether city or country, can be smoked or unsmoked. Country hams are salt cured and then aged to remove moisture and develop flavor. This traditional process takes a lot of time. Think prosciutto, serrano, jamon iberico, or American style country hams. City hams, by contrast, are cured by injecting them with brine. This allows rapid salt/nitrite penetration and yields a faster, wetter, less salty product. Honey Baked Ham is probably the biggest name brand for this type of ham, and many other brands have a similarly sweet profile (but not all city hams are sweet hams). City hams are ready to serve from the get-go, but if you're going to cook and serve a whole country ham, you often need to soak it to leech some of the salt out or it can be unpalatably salty.

 

 

Edited by btbyrd (log)
  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

@btbyrd, does this "Country hams are salt cured and then aged" mean that all country hams are smoked? Are all city hams injected with smoke flavouring? Sorry to be such a pest about this topic, but I've developed an aversion to "smoked" flavouring. Which appears to have contaminated many chicken sausages, including my beloved Aidells Chicken Apple.

 

@JoNorvelleWalker, I don't mind porcine humour but I didn't want my question to be forgotten.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, TdeV said:

@btbyrd, does this "Country hams are salt cured and then aged" mean that all country hams are smoked? Are all city hams injected with smoke flavouring? Sorry to be such a pest about this topic, but I've developed an aversion to "smoked" flavouring. Which appears to have contaminated many chicken sausages, including my beloved Aidells Chicken Apple.

 

No and no. "Country ham" just means "dry cured ham." They can be smoked or unsmoked. City hams are injection brined. They can be unsmoked, smoked, or injected with liquid smoke.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, btbyrd said:

No and no. "Country ham" just means "dry cured ham." They can be smoked or unsmoked. City hams are injection brined. They can be unsmoked, smoked, or injected with liquid smoke.

 

Thanks. What would I search for and where would you suggest?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Are you looking for unsmoked ham altogether or just ham that hasn't gotten the "smoke flavor added" injection treatment? If you're looking for unsmoked country ham, none of the famous European hams are smoked. There are unsmoked American country hams too, but my experience is almost exclusively with smoked product (Benton's, Father's, Edwards). Here's the country ham thread.

When it comes to city hams, you just have to research whatever brands are available to you. There are a lot of larger operations that can actually smoke hams at industrial scale. It's usually not a very heavy smoke, especially compared to country hams.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm looking for ham without a smoke flavour. Promo mailings from Benton's and Edwards which I've read closely but can't find one in their offerings. I might end up being bored by a really good unsmoked ham, but I'd like to track one down first!

 

Thanks for your help.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...