How Everything That Could Go Wrong Did Go Wrong While Importing A Horse From Ireland


Immediately upon realizing that George had shipped the wrong horse, and that the massive animal standing before her was not Smurf, Krissy got on the phone to the USDA authorities at JFK quarantine. The horse they had loaded onto George’s trailer she dubbed Fake Smurf. Real Smurf, she soon learned, was on his way to Virginia. 

Fortunately, Krissy knew the shipper transporting Real Smurf and was able to intercept him en route. “Don’t stop in Virginia,” she told him. “You gotta keep going all the way to Aiken.” 

I can only imagine the response. Instead of a decent meal and a warm bed (this being early February) at the end of a long haul, the driver had to keep rolling, arriving at Paradise Farm in the middle of the night. For the second time in as many nights, Krissy and Alex greeted the trailer and unloaded Smurf, but this time, they checked, double checked, then triple checked that this horse was truly the horse I had bought. It was.  

Real Smurf was put into a stall, Fake Smurf was loaded onto the trailer, and the driver hit the highway again, headed back up north to Virginia. Fake Smurf’s owner, by the way, was fit to be tied upon learning that his newly imported foxhunter had taken the scenic route to Virginia via South Carolina. He threatened to sue the USDA, George, his shipper and anyone else involved with the mishap. The results of this, I have not followed. 

Ultimately, Real Smurf had arrived safely at Paradise, a day later than scheduled but otherwise no worse for wear. All’s well that ends well, we thought. Or maybe not. 

Fast forward a few weeks when my January Visa statement came in the mail. Everything seemed in order except for a sketchy-looking PayPal charge on January 29th to JESUSFORLIFE. 

Hm, I thought, that’s odd. I’m all for Jesus but I’ve never heard of JESUSFORLIFE. Nor have I made a charitable donation to JESUSFORLIFE. A quasi-religious scam, I thought. Straightaway, I phoned up Chase Bank and declared the charge fraud. It would be investigated, I was told, and if it was determined to be fraud, the full amount would be credited back to my card. Great, I thought. 

Then, the next month, my February Visa statement arrived and damn if JESUSFORLIFE wasn’t there again, on February 8th for the same amount. Another call to Chase. “That fraud charge?” I said. “It’s happened a second time.” Again, I was assured that if it was deemed fraudulent, I would be refunded the amount. Cool, no biggie. 

Then a few days later, I got a call from an exasperated George G. “What’s going on?” he said, and not in his inside voice. “Why did you cancel both payments?”

“What are you talking about?” I answered. “Just like you asked, I paid you through PayPal, half up front the day I booked you and the other half upon delivery of the horses in Aiken, which by the way, one of whom was the wrong horse.”

“PayPal blocked both payments, saying you declared it fraud,” George said, still in a non-inside voice. 

Suddenly it all became clear. “Are you…JESUSFORLIFE??” I asked. 

“What? That’s my email,” he retorted. 

“Are you kidding me?” I shot back. “How in the hell was I supposed to know JESUSFORLIFE was you?” (Sorry, Jesus.)  

“I have no idea how my business name got changed to my email but I wanna get paid,” George bellowed. 

“I shouldn’t pay you at all because you delivered the wrong horse and someone I don’t even know drove my horse from JFK all the way to Aiken,” I bellowed back. 

And so it went, back and forth and back and forth, again. 

Since then, I cannot count how many hours I’ve spent on the phone with Chase Bank and Visa and PayPal, to no avail. Chase says the funds were paid to PayPal, then were credited back to my Visa when I reported JESUSFORLIFE as fraud, then were re-paid to PayPal when JESUSFORLIFE was deemed legit. 

PayPal claims the funds are still being held by Chase until the fraud investigation is resolved. Chase contends that it has been resolved, a year ago. George says PayPal has frozen his account and has never sent him the payments. Oy, my head hurts. 

But wait, there’s more. When this whole sordid mess came to light, I felt bad for George that he never got paid for the shipping ($2250), so I sent him a personal check (which he cashed right away, I might add). So in essence, I’ve paid him twice, once by PayPal and once by check. Our agreement was that when the PayPal money came through, he would pay me back the double payment. Shocker…I’ve never seen a dime. 

It’s been over a year now since the whole Fake Smurf/Real Smurf/JESUSFORLIFE saga unfolded and I’m no closer to a resolution than when I started. I’ve talked with Chase. I’ve called PayPal 20 or 30 times and have yet to reach a human being who can help me. I’ve talked with my friend’s lawyer husband about suing PayPal.

I’ve talked with George several times and his story is always the same, that he’s never gotten paid by PayPal. I may be a total fool (there is some evidence of this), but somehow I believe him. 

The bad news? I think I’ll never get my $2250 back. 

The good news? I have an incredible horse. Named Smurf.