Warning: When buying a $4,000 mini pig, do not use your debit card

When Meghan Robinson bought a piglet named Peaches, she was devastated when the little creature was deemed unhealthy and the sale fell through. But now she’s not only missing Peaches, but the breeder is refusing to refund the $4,000 Robinson paid for her.

Robinson wanted to know if we can help.

Her case is an unfortunate example of how a consumer can be negatively impacted by the lack of chargeback possibilities when making debit card purchases.

“I purchased Peaches from Mini Pig World,” Robinson’s remembers. “I specifically chose Peaches because she reminded me of my childhood stuffed animal. I have wanted a piglet my entire life, but when I saw her I felt like I needed to have this specific one.”

(I know what you’re thinking. Yes, there is a Mini Pig World. I looked it up.)

So what happened next was terribly troubling to Robinson. Her childhood stuffed animal come-to-life was not meant to be.

Just days before Peaches was to be delivered to her — and after she made the full purchase payment of $4,000 — she received a somber phone call from Mini Pig World. The owner explained that Peaches was not well and was not approved for sale.

The owner offered Robinson several alternative minipigs to choose from to replace Peaches.

Robinson did not feel a connection with any of these piglets. And she had done some research on the price of comparable minipigs, and she had come to the conclusion that Peaches had been overpriced in the first place.

So now, in her disappointment, she just wanted a refund.

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Even though Mini Pig World was unable to sell Peaches to Robinson, the owner refused her request for a refund.

This didn’t seem right to Robinson. She had purchased a specific pig and Mini Pig World was unable to fulfill the contract. A logical conclusion would seem to be a refund.

The Mini Pig World Sale’s Agreement that Robinson sent to us repeatedly mentions that she is purchasing this pig — not just any pig.

And the last part of the contract from Mini Pig World reads:

If the transaction is voided or if through some tragic accident the piggy were to die or to otherwise be seriously injured before it goes to its new home then, of course, the deposit will be returned to the buyer; unless the Buyer wishes to apply the deposit to another Piggy, if one is available, or to a puppy from the next available litter.

One would assume that this also applies to a “piggy” that is too sick to be sold. So why was Mini Pig World digging in its heels and refusing a refund?

I went over the paper trail, and I noticed that when Robinson requested the refund, she had also gone to her bank and asked it to investigate her situation and get back her $4,000 from Mini Pig World. This seems to be when the pleasantries between Robinson and the owner ended.

The owner responded with accusations that Robinson was “extremely rude” and “trying to run all over our business.”

Hardly a legally valid reason to deny a refund for a pig that could not be delivered.

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If we can just pause this piglet fiasco for moment, it is important to point out that because Robinson used her debit card for this purchase, it was virtually the same as if she had paid cash for her new pet.

When a consumer uses their credit card to make a purchase, that purchase is protected by laws that govern credit card purchases.

Under the Fair Credit Billing Act, a credit card issuer must conduct an investigation for any “billing errors.” These billing errors include, among other things, “charges for goods and services that you didn’t accept or weren’t delivered as agreed.”

Like a little pig called Peaches.

And during the credit card company’s investigation, the amount in question is reversed. Not so for debit card purchases.

The Fair Credit Billing Act protects consumers who use credit cards, but those protections do not apply to those who use debit cards (or cash) instead.

Robinson’s bank did try to make some attempt to mediate this problem and sent a letter of inquiry to Mini Pig World.

In its response to the bank’s inquiry, Mini Pig World produced an entirely new sales contract, which Robinson had never seen before. This one specifically mentions that they do not offer refunds and an alternative pig is the only recourse in this situation.

Even though Robinson provided the sales agreement that she had been given, her bank was not in a position to debate the merits of her complaint about the two contracts, nor was it required to do so. And it was unable to reverse the payment to Mini Pig World from her bank account. Ultimately, her bank recommended that she seek legal advice.

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She first turned to us and filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau.

I contacted Mini Pig World on two occasions and asked for an explanation as to why Robinson was not entitled to a refund, since Peaches was not fit for sale.

The owner ignored all my attempts at mediation and remains in possession of Robinson’s $4,000. Robinson remains pigless. The Better Business Bureau’s inquiry also continues to be unanswered.

Robinson has informed us that she has consulted with a lawyer and intends to retrieve her money through the court system. Given her use of a debit card for this piggy purchase and the owner’s refusal to participate in mediation, legal action, regrettably, appears to be the only path to a positive resolution.

Should Mini Pig World refund Robinson's money? No, she should pick an alternative pig. Yes, "this pig" in the contract specifically refers to Peaches.

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Michelle Couch-Friedman

Michelle is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, consumer advocate, writer and photographer who spends as much time as possible exploring the world with her family. She is Advocacy & Editorial Director at Elliott.org.

  • Patty Tillman

    I would like to know why 2 people felt the need to vote “no.” Why shouldn’t she get her money back?

  • LeeAnneClark

    They work at Mini Pig World. ;)

  • Grandma

    If she had paid with credit card, during the charge-back investigation Mini Pig Word’s owner would have submitted the same false new contract he submitted for the debit card charge investigation.
    Yes, during the investigation the amount would have been reversed, but then she could have been charged again, if the bank sides with the owner.

    Nevetheless I do agree, use credit card.

  • LeeAnneClark

    This one really oinks.

    Seriously – something stinks here. The fact that this company fraudulently submitted a provably false sales contract to a bank seems to me to be grounds for a lawsuit, if not criminal charges.

    I’m pulling for the LW here – I hope she prevails, and gets her money back. And I also believe there should be some severe consequences for Mini Pig World. They should have just refunded her money as the (REAL) contract promised…now they may find themselves rolling around in the mud.

  • sirwired

    It should be noted that there are an awful lot of knowledgeable people that allege that the “mini pig” is a myth, and there certainly are a lot of people that have been sold “mini/teacup/nano/etc.” pigs that are anything but. (Unless you think of “mini” as over 100lb; it’s “mini” in relation to a farm hog, but not what most people think of as “small”.)

    Personally, I’m more than a bit skeptical of the claims of “mini-ness”; the place claims to have been in business for 15 years, but even that would be a pretty short amount of time to selectively breed smaller pigs. (It takes them years to become full-grown, so unless a breeder wants to end up raising a gigantic number of pigs for which the desired attribute (small-ness) didn’t take, 15 years actually isn’t very long.) And given that there are precisely zero breeds even close as a starting point, it should be taking decades to pull this off. (There’s one endangered wild species in southeast Asia that’s close, thankfully it’s not in the pet trade.)

  • AJPeabody

    She should win in court with nher original contract and the attempted use by PigWorld (mini or otherwise) of a fraudulent contract to the bank. The “clean hands” principle would apply.

  • Altosk

    Oh, Reddit will have a field day with this one…Mini Pig World may not survive the trolling.
    No, I won’t stay my hand…shame on Mini Pig World.

  • LeeAnneClark

    Hmmmm!!! From “The Rip-Off Report” (publicly available online – just google “Mini Pig World”):

    “Jeremy Acosta is a sleezy pushy salesman for underage, unweaned, and sick piglets. He tells everyone they should have one and they’re easy to care for when that is a COMPLETE LIE! These exploited piglets are taken away from their mother way too young and are unweaned. The piglets become sick very easily and if you can afford the vet bill after spending $1500 to $5000 for one of his pigs you’re lucky. Some pigs he sells aren’t so lucky and they die. Once you have a problem with the pig and try to reach him he avoids you and doesn’t answer his phone, his voicemail box is full, and ignores his texts/emails. He only cares about selling you the pig and his business reputation. He gets combative when you call him out and deletes any negative online comments. There is no health certificate that comes with his pigs and the supposed parents of the pigs looks emaciated, lethargic, and almost dead. [continued below]….

    “….. The poor pig Cooper most certainly looks sad to be alive by the video he recently posted. It is underfed and malnourished. You ask to see his breeding area and he never shows it as if he may actually just be a broker for these poor helpless animals. He doesn’t screen any of his buyers and they have no idea what they’re getting themselves into. Most certainly the pigs are shipped off and he’s done with you. He has a ridiculous 3 page care sheet and doesn’t mention anything about if the pig is drinking milk, which you shouldn’t even be dealing with but it’s happened. He recommends something that is completely wrong instead of goats milk. There’s no way he’s been in business for 12 years because I know of another breeder that he tried to buy a breeding pair from just 2 years ago. 12 years ago Jeremy would only be about 15 as he’s very young and unknowledgeable, but a cocky salesman. He is pure greed and should be ashamed for what he’s doing to these poor piggies. Put him out of business. Quit feeding into his lies about these poor sad piglets.”

    Looks to me as if the LW dodged a bullet by NOT getting her “mini-pig”, or she might have ended up with a not-so-mini hog that would cost her a hambone’s worth in vet bills.

    The whole thing sounds shady to me.

  • LeeAnneClark

    Furthermore, according to the Rip-Off Report, the owner is a young guy and couldn’t possibly have been in business for 15 years as he would have been a young teenager 15 years ago!

    See the comment I just posted. I have ZERO tolerance for animal abusers. I hope this article brings some much-needed attention on this company, so the truth comes out.

  • BubbaJoe123

    Headline’s way too long. Can be shortened to:

    “do not use your debit card”

  • disqus_00YDCZxqDV

    subtitle: “Before you buy: Google is your friend”

  • Steve Rabin

    luckily the OP didn’t bring home the bacon this time.

  • greg watson

    BBB ? …………………….may as while shout into the wind

  • Annie M

    How can the owner produce a different bill of sale? Didn’t Robinson sign her copy? That is so blatantly wrong. How about filing a complaint with the state attorney general? They might be able to force the situation.

  • Annie M

    Mini Pig Worlds bank may not have had the funds to draw back. And the other bank legally didn’t have to comply with returning the money because it was a debit card so her banks hands were tied.

  • michael anthony

    This is one reason i find debit cards deceptive. The banks cant just slap a Visa or MasterCard logo on their debit cards without a contract. And with that logo, comes the “ease” of conducting transactions where ever those cards are accepted. However, if that merchant ROBS you blind, the bank says “so sorry, not our problem”. Ha! The bank and the issuer, say Visa, could team up and get the money back by withholding funds payable, remove them from accepting Visa, etc. Fraud is fraud and yes, there are many people who try to live without credit cards due to low wages. They shouldn’t be penalized.

  • finance_tony

    Oh good, a pig AND puppy mill. What else do you expect from subhuman filth that runs these type of businesses?

  • finance_tony

    And he sells puppies too. Nothing good could come from one of these jokers.

  • jdsonice

    Never Never Never use a debit card for ANYTHING. The laws are against you. Use a credit card.

  • Patrica

    Waiting for this to be on Judge Judy or People’s Court!! Let me know when it’s being broadcast.. It sounds so right for court TV: an animal, broken contract, a fraudulent contract, an owner who’s too young to have been in business for 15 years, etc etc, !! Apart from that, I do sincerely understand Ms. Robinson’s desire for a specific pig. Her heart was captured by this wee porker. And now she has to handle this!! Outrageous.

  • Patrica

    Yes, me too. 21 people!! The “Product” was specific. She had a contract that stated refund. If I were buying a stove, a pair of shoes, a hammer, a car, a bird, OR a specific pig, I would not accept a substitute. THEIR ORIGINAL contract did NOT say they were allowed to substitute or that there was no refund.

  • wilcoxon

    This is why I never use a debit card. Out bank recently got rid of plain ATM cards and required all users to get a debit card that works as an ATM card. I complained and got them to set my max charge on the debit card to $0 (wouldn’t it have been simpler and probably cheaper for them to just continue supporting plain ATM cards?).

  • LeeAnneClark

    Oh boy. That’s horrible. I’m a dog owner and lover, and that s*** just makes me ill. :(

  • joycexyz

    Was either contract signed? I’m all for taking this to court. It’s more than “clean hands”–it’s fraud on the court.

  • joycexyz

    Why in the world don’t people do their research before doing business? It’s not like it’s so difficult to do. And if the animals are being mistreated, the authorities should be intervening.

  • joycexyz

    Very good!

  • joycexyz

    Ouch! I hope that wasn’t going to be the next chapter.

  • joycexyz

    I couldn’t agree with you more. I simply don’t get why people use them. The manager at my bank tried to give me a sales pitch about using a debit card (just doing his job, as ordered). I gave him chapter and verse about why I would never use one, and he totally agreed with me

  • joycexyz

    It’s much more advantageous for the bank. For one thing, they never have to worry that you won’t pay–they’ve got your money. And you can’t demand those pesky chargebacks. Etc., etc. and so forth.

  • LeeAnneClark

    A very good question. One possible answer is that people are lazy. They want what they want and don’t want to have to do all the background work.

    Another answer is that many people of an older generation wouldn’t even think about doing such research, because it’s not part of their life experience. They didn’t grow up with the ability to do such research – they had to trust their neighbors, communities, and their own intuition. That there is now the possibility of quickly researching companies doesn’t change their long-standing habits.

    I see this with my own mother – she was raised in a small town where everyone knew everyone, and there was one dentist, one TV repair shop, a couple plumbers. Nobody is going to rip you off because you know their mother or their Aunt Matilda and you will let them know and the bad guy will get his hand slapped but good, so they wouldn’t dream of it.

    It’s not like that in today’s world. I’ve had to explain that to her every time she gets taken (which, sadly, has happened all too often).

  • cscasi

    It’s now up to 25 people voting no. But, the company is being ridiculous. I did not furnish the pig and should refund her $4000 (which is a really ridiculous price – well, in my estimation).

  • joycexyz

    I’m of the “older generation,” but I grew up in the New York area. I guess that explains a lot. I’m so sorry that your mother’s trust has been taken advantage of. It’s a hard lesson to learn.

  • Lee

    If up for it, OP could contact a local TV consumer reporter (or, even if a local newspaper has such a reporter as many do) about this situation. Said reporter, if interested, can do the digging into the business and if he/she discovers wrongdoing of any kind, authorities can be alerted. These consumer reporters really do amazing things once they take on an issue or “case.”

    That is what I would do – not only to try to get back my own money but to shed light on this guy’s business practices – and, with some luck, get an investigation going.

  • Harvey-6-3.5

    I think the poll is confusing people, not that they necessarily disagree.

  • RightNow9435

    And where it states, “the bank was unable” to reverse the charge, actually it should state the back was “unwilling” to reverse the charge.

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