Butcher Box, part one: the butchered box

What food blog would be complete without meat? I figured if I’m going to do this cooking blog thing right, I need to get some meat. Big, delicious, juicy, mouth-watering meat. This adventure in culinary delights started back in November when I saw a big Cyber Monday sale for Butcher Box. I hopped on board and bought a huge box of steaks and chicken. It’s organic, grass-fed, humanely raised, and all that good stuff. I know happy meat tastes better, so I was eager as hell to try this meat.

I wanted it to cook nice steaks for my birthday, so I chose the latest delivery I could—the week of December 11th. But when I never got any shipping info, I wrote to them on the 14th. They said they were behind on their orders due to a higher than anticipated order volume and I should get my steaks the week of the 18th. I said that sucks because I wanted to cook them ON the 18th for my birthday. They gave me a $20 credit. Okay. Whatever. Doesn’t fix my problem of not having food to cook, so... Fuck it. We went out to eat.

Steak and shrimp at Gojo's Japanese Steakhouse

My birthday comes and goes. It’s now less than a week until Christmas. Still, no shipment of meat and no email from them as to why. I’m on the two-month plan—since they make you choose a subscription schedule—but if I’d been on the monthly plan, it’d be time for them to ship me my second box and I still haven’t gotten the first one. I email them again. Where is my food? It’ll be shipped after Christmas, they promise. Also, they’re refunding my money for all the trouble.



I didn’t ask for that. I just wanted what I had paid for. Now they’re sending it for free? Sweet! Fast-forward to after Christmas. I want my meat. I’m so anxious. I’m out of Home Chef meals, I didn't make a turkey for Christmas, and I want some steaks onto which I can sprinkle my Falksalts. Finally, I get the email. It was shipped on Thursday the 28th and will be delivered on Saturday the 30th. Cool.

Saturday arrives and the doorbell rings while I’m getting ready for work. Yay! By the time I make it to the door, he’s gone and so is my giant box of meat. What the fuck? Okay, there’s a note on the door saying that someone must be present to sign for and receive the package. Weird. It never said anything on their website about it needing to be signed for. The note also says that it would be delivered to my apartment complex office. I need to finish getting ready for work, so I don’t bother rushing down to retrieve it right away.

When I do make it to the office twenty minutes later, I’m told that they refused the package. Apparently, they no longer accept packages for residents. Oh, how nice to know that my enormous box of frozen meat was refused.

Now we’re into New Year’s weekend. FedEx is closed for three days straight while they hold my box. There is nothing I can do. They don’t deliver on Sunday, plus Sunday is New Year’s Eve. Monday is New Year’s Day and they’re still closed. You’d think they’d reopen on Tuesday, right? Nope. FedEx does not resume deliveries until Wednesday, January third.

I’m trying so hard to be optimistic. It’s not like the backs of the trucks or the warehouses are heated. I know FedEx warehouses are hot in the summer and cold in the winter due to lack of heating and cooling because my husband wanted to work there until we watched the job preview video on their website. And it had been well below freezing for over a week. When it’s in the teens and single digits for days straight, I’m very hopeful that my meat might actually still be frozen—or at least still cold—by the time it gets to me six days after it was shipped to me.

I’m hoping, you guys. I’m hoping so hard I could just shatter into pieces.

Wednesday finally rolls around and I want my fucking meat! I even switched shifts with someone at work so that I’d be home to receive it. I’d signed up for notifications from FedEx and now I get text messages with a possible four-hour-delivery-window. So, I’m home. I’m waiting. I’m ready to jump up and answer the door before the FedEx guy runs off with my delivery again. The doorbell rings and I bolt from the couch. It’s just five yards to my front door. Fucker’s already gone and I hear him drive away in his truck while I take in the scent of rotting meat that’s been dumped on my doorstep.

There is a huge box, shrink-wrapped on its top, bottom, and two sides. It has been left on its side, with the two uncovered sides facing top and bottom. The "up" arrow is pointing away from me. I can smell the blood and I know my meat is not still frozen. I now assume that they had space heaters in the warehouse to keep the workers from suffering in the frigid weather. I’m not going to stand outside to open it, so I haul the shit inside.

Oh, yay! The shrink wrap didn’t totally work since the dripping box was left on its side, in spite of the clearly marked "up" arrows on all four sides. A trail of blood drips got on me and my carpet while I made my way to the kitchen. Later, when I found it, I wished splinters upon the bastard FedEx driver while I called him a dendrophiliac and scrubbed the carpet. 

Needless to say, I was pissed as soon as I smelled it. I knew that at that moment I was incapable of not sounding furious while recording a video, so I chose to take a bunch of pictures instead.

Inside the box, I found a bloody insulated bag, thawed meat in damaged packaging, and an unreadable assortment of papers. It smelled so awful. The only thing that wasn’t fully thawed was the bacon that had been at the very bottom of the box--before I dug around and started snapping pictures. When I pulled it out, there was a bit of an icy crispiness to it, indicating that it was just then almost fully thawed. Super! The one fucking thing in the box that I wasn’t going to eat was the free package of bacon. Again, whatever. I gave the bacon to my boss and threw the rest of it away.

I wrote to Butcher Box. I told them what happened and sent them the pictures. I told them that at this point, I didn’t even care anymore. It’s not like I’d paid for the box of rotten meat because they’d already refunded my money. So, we were square. Plus, I'd checked and I still had the credit for next time. Even though I wouldn’t be getting the six bonus steaks that were the reason I’d gotten it in the first place, I was still considering letting them send me my “second” box at the end of January so that I’d have pics of their product for my blog. Was that shady to mention my blog? I can’t even tell. I was just being honest.

They emailed me back to tell me that they’d be sending me a whole new free box of meat. It was never the policy or instructions of Butcher Box that someone must be there to sign for the delivery. They're taking it up with FedEx as to why my box was held hostage when it was clearly marked perishable and the shipping label said to leave it if the door went unanswered. 


Now, I’m truly stunned. I almost regret mentioning that I write about food. How do I really know now that this is how they always handle shit? Is it because they don’t want me to talk bad about them on the internet? Because I'd told them we were square. I didn't pay for it, and I didn't get anything from them I could eat. Who knows…I guess I fucked up and now I’ve learned from my mistake. I’ll never tell companies I’m going to write about them until after they’ve handled—and hopefully satisfied—any complaints I may have.

I don’t think I’m a chronic complainer, though. Hell, I’ve worked in restaurants most of my life and I have countless stories of insane complaints. I try my best to be reasonable. I try to not let my emotions get the best of me. I know that mistakes happen. We’re all human. But I am honest in my observations, perhaps to a fault.

I am very accustomed to falling through the cracks. When I was a new author, I fell through the cracks with my editors and with the art department at my publishing house, then again with the ITW as a debut at ThrillerFest. I, in no way, feel that this is indicative as to how they're run, just an example of my life-long streak of bad luck. My doctors forget to send referrals and results to each other. I’ll call to order delivery food and my order won’t get sent through. My bank forgot to notify me when they were switching to chip-cards and they just canceled my debit card one day without having sent me a new one first. Shit like that. I’m used to it. I do my best to let it roll off my back, though it can take me a moment to acquire my calm center at times. I consider it one of my challenges in life—patience and understanding. I feel like I get better at it with each passing year, but of course, none of us are perfect.


Second attempt

The replacement box for my rotten box arrived on Friday, January 12th. I was supposed to be charged again on January 28th for my “second bi-monthly shipment.” There was no way in hell I’d be able to fit all of that meat in my tiny freezer. I checked out their website again and saw that I can conveniently change my billing date, so I chose to postpone it another month. I also noticed, though, that they took away my $20 credit. I feel like they were probably justified in that because they not only sent me my six bonus steaks, they sent me an extra six bonus steaks. Again, wow, Butcher Box! That's some fucking superb customer service! To try to win me over after a series of shipping snafus, they sent me over $100 worth of premium steaks.

But how was the meat? What came in the box?

I know. You’re dying to know, right? You’ll just have to come back next time since this one is already getting a bit long. And bonus—next week I’ll have some recipes for the yummy food I made!