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Violin Destroyed at Order of PayPal

An eBay user had to endure a heartbreaking experience because PayPal forced a buyer to destroy her $2,500 violin because it was called counterfeit. The eBay user, known as Erica, sold the violin to a buyer in Canada, who had requested a refund. The buyer requested the refund because he or she disputed the authenticity of the label on the violin.

Erica said, “This is not uncommon. In the violin market, labels often mean little and there is often disagreement over them. Some of the most expensive violins in the world have disputed labels, but they are works of art nonetheless.”

PayPal ordered the buyer to destroy the violin and send a picture as proof if he or she wanted their money back as a refund. The label on the violin was that of Bourguignon Maurice.

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Erica wrote the following, “The buyer was so proud of himself, he sent me a photo of the destroyed violin. I am now out a violin that made it through WWII as well as $2,500. This is of course upsetting. But my main goal in writing to you is to prevent PayPal from ordering the destruction of violins and other antiquities that they know nothing about. It is beyond me why PayPal simply didn’t have the violin returned to me. I spoke on the phone to numerous reps from PayPal who 100% defended their action and gave me the party line.”

Even though Erica is heartbroken, PayPal has a paragraph regarding the destruction of goods that are found to be counterfeit. The paragraph from PayPal reads as follows:

“ For SNAD (significantly not as described) claims… PayPal may also require you to destroy the item and to provide evidence of its destruction.”

A spokesperson from PayPal said the following:

“While we cannot talk about this particular case due to PayPal’s privacy policy, we carefully review each case, and in general we may ask a buyer to destroy counterfeit goods if they supply signed evidence from a knowledgeable third party that the goods are indeed counterfeit. The reason why we reserve the option to ask the buyer to destroy the goods is that in many countries, including the US, it is a criminal offense to mail counterfeit goods back to a seller.”

Andrew Hooker, an antique violin dealer, said that only an ‘imbecile’ would purchase such a precious instrument without first playing it to make sure it is legitimate.

Hooker went on to say the following, “I sympathize with the wronged party but a fool and his money are easily parted.”

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