Thursday, March 15, 2012

Zaycon Foods Chicken Review *UPDATED!*

**This Big Happy has moved to ThisBigHappy.com! See you over there!**

**Jan 28, 2013 - I appreciate everyone commenting to tell me how great their Zaycon experience has been but ya'll have me wondering now. No one found this post for the longest time and now people are finding it HERE instead of at the new site.

Level with me...I know Zaycon has a private bloggers club, are all the visits from there, trying to negate my opinion and this post? I mean, I appreciate traffic but it all seems a little hinky.

If you are a real person who is really, truly interested in my Zaycon experience I invite you to go over to the new (and updated!) This Big Happy site. If you are from this bloggers club, or Zaycon itself, please just say so. You can email me anytime and I'd be happy to discuss my experience further.  I won't be bullied or bribed into changing my review or opinion and I've disabled comments on this post. If you want to comment you'll have to do so over on the new website.**

And now for my review of Zaycon Chicken Breasts. This is a true story, I still have all of my written communication with Zaycon in the event no one believes me. What follows is MY experience and MY opinions. I was never asked to do this review, I was not compensated in any manner for this review (only for the crappy chicken, but you can read about that below!)

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Hold on to your hats, people! I am about to share what I seriously think is the first negative review of Zaycon Foods! I’ve scoured the internet and have not managed to find one person with one negative thing to say about their Zaycon experience. Don’t worry though, it’s not ALL negative!

Zaycon Foods is a company that brings wholesale buying power to the public. They negotiate with meat suppliers to sell large cases of meat at a discounted price. I ordered one case of chicken, 40 lbs of BLSL breast, at $1.79/lb, or $71.60. When it’s delivery day you drive to the pick-up area you chose and they load it into your car.

Zaycon came highly recommended to me by friends and I was unable to find one negative thing on the web. The price was amazing for my area considering the non-sale price of BLSL chicken breast here is $5.49/lb. I almost always refuse to pay more than $2.99/lb but that deal only comes around every 3-4 months. Twice a year BLSL chicken breast will drop to $1.99/lb and I’ll buy 30-40 lbs if the store hasn’t run out by the time I get there.

I was almost irrationally excited when I placed my order. My family eats a lot of chicken and it’s so darned versatile to boot. Part of the reason I went ahead and ordered was because the pick-up date fell on a day when I was available, and at a time I was available. Since I had to drive 45 minutes from my home to my pick-up place it needs to fall on the right day and time. That only seems logical, right? After discussing it with my husband on February 24th I ordered one 40lb case of BLSL chicken breast with a pick-up date of March 8th at 1:00pm.

A week before pick-up I received an email saying the date was changed to March 7th at 1:00pm. Ok, this was a bit of a problem since I had an appointment an hour away at 2pm, but I could make it work if I was there at exactly 1pm. At 12:39pm I was just 3 miles from the pick-up site when I received a text message saying the order was delayed and pick-up was now 5:30pm. Excuse me? They sent the message 21 minutes before pick-up time??

I pulled over and called Zaycon. I explained them what a hassle it was, that I was already in town and I could not spare the time and gas money to drive back, besides that I had to have my kid at dance class at 5:30. The representative, Tammy, was very nice and asked if I could find someone else to get the order in exchange for a $10 credit on my account. I was told I cannot get a refund but if I cancelled my order I could be issued a partial credit. I called my husband and he said he could manage to break away from work early and get it on his way home, even though it wasn’t on the way.

When 4:30 came around I received another text message saying the time was again changed to 7pm. Nope, no way. I called Zaycon again..and again…and again…and again…no answer or voicemail. I emailed them and told them under no circumstances was I driving back to get the chicken at 7 pm and I wanted a full refund, not a credit.

Around 6:00pm I finally managed to get someone from Zaycon on the phone. Suzanne explained to me that the pick-up date was changed to March 13th from 5:30-6pm and that I could get a credit to my account, not a refund, if the date came and I couldn’t make it.

Grrrrrreat. Throughout the night I received no less than 3 emails from Zaycon with information that contradicted what Suzanne told me.

Judging from the messages on Zaycon’s Facebook page and the emails we received, this was a problem all over the state of Florida that day. Zaycon apologized but insists it wasn’t their fault because they don’t own the processing plant or truck and don’t employ the driver. See, in my book, if I pay you money and you don’t deliver it doesn’t matter where the fault lies, I’m going to be upset and you’d darn well better try to fix it.

That evening I posted on Zaycon’s Facebook page asking if the chicken we were getting on the 13th now was the same chicken that “dropped off the face of the earth” today (Zaycon’s words, not mine!) or if it was going to be freshly processed. Zaycon replied that the chicken would be the same but that it had a 14 day shelf life and would only be 7 days old on the 13th.

The evening of the 12th I received a call from Suzanne reminding me that pick-up was still on for the next day at 5:30pm. The next day my husband left work early to pick-up the chicken. He said pick-up was painless and careful, the people loading the chicken even laid plastic in his trunk before putting the chicken in. **See, I said not everything was going to be negative**

When hubby returned home I started to process the chicken and was generally pleased. The breasts are butterflied so I was breaking each into two pieces and packaging in groups of 3 to freeze.

All was going well until I got to the 4th breast and found this:




Yup, green chicken with a funky skin forming. Would you feed this to your family?

And this:




Yup, chicken covered in fat. I figured this might happen with one or two breasts, but this amount of fat was on every third or fourth breast. (Zaycon's statement on chicken fat can be found on their website and states: "Chicken breasts typically come in double-lobed pairs ("butterfly") and will have small attached amounts of fat") Oh, and the chicken was turning green under this fat.

And then I found 6 of these:



Yup, chicken tenders. Getting a few chicken tenders isn't an issue except I didn't order chicken tenders. I assume they were throwin in to make weight but I would have rather had an extra breast or two thrown in.

I emailed Zaycon and explained the situation and attached these photos. I have yet to hear back from them but when I do I’ll post an update.

Will I order from Zaycon again??? Maybe. If they can actually stick to their initial delivery date and time so I know I’m getting fresh chicken I will give them another try. If I order again and the date or time is changed, even once, I’m demanding a refund and I’m out.


**Updated update - 3/20/12 - I received this in my inbox this morning:
http://impro.biz/Zaycon_apology.php**


**UPDATE!! 3/17/2012 - Today I received an apology from Zaycon, here's an excerpt:

"We use three major farms due to the fact that we approve of the processes they use
to grow/produce the chicken. While the farms do vary a bit, the product we
receive should be jumbo, boneless, skinless breasts. Many factors play into
the end product. Weather and environment greatly affect the growth of the
chickens. Regardless of all these issues, we strive to offer a large,
delicious breast, ready to be frozen. Considering the volume we do,
occasionally there is a case or two that is not up to our standards. Our
sincere apologies that your case is one of them."

They then offered me a $25 refund OR credit, which is fair considering I was able to use most of the chicken. I opted for a refund to my card because I'm not convinced I'll be ordering from them again.***

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