PayPal Tells Buyer To Destroy Purchased Violin Instead Of Return For Refund

Oh PayPal… will you never learn how to resolve a situation without having everyone hate you? Mere weeks after enduring the wrath of the internet resulting from its war with, PayPal has once again hit viral vitriol gold. This time, a seller claims that she’s out $2,500 and an antique violin after the company told the buyer to destroy the instrument.

According to the seller, who shared her tale with the aforementioned Regretsy, she had sold the old violin to a buyer in Canada, who subsequently disputed the instrument’s bona fides.

It is certainly not uncommon for people in the antique musical instrument field to argue over whether or not a particular item is the real deal, and it makes sense to notify PayPal that you are disputing the purchase.

But the decision as to whether or not the violin is the real deal or an impersonator is not usually left up to the company that promises the payment. Alas, someone at PayPal apparently is an expert in old violins, because the company determined the instrument was “counterfeit” and told the buyer he needed to destroy it in order to get his refund.

The buyer not only smashed the violin to bits; he also snapped some pics that he sent to the seller.

Writes the seller to Regretsy:

I am now out a violin that made it through WWII as well as $2500. 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.

While we agree that no one should have to pay for counterfeits, and that most counterfeit items should be destroyed, we’re pretty sure that PayPal should not be the arbiter of what’s real and what’s bogus.

From the Mailbag []


Edit Your Comment

  1. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    This is bad, Don’t blame the OP and don’t play the world’s tiniest violin just for her.

  2. kbsparky says:

    Time for a lawsuit against PP …

  3. lupinthethird says:

    they shouldnt be able to deny her her money when she didnt get her violin back. i hope she sues the hell out of pay pal

  4. The Fake Fake Steve Jobs says:

    From the article:
    “I sold an old French violin to a buyer in Canada, and the buyer disputed the label.

    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.”

    I’m not a violin collector but is there proof that their violin was what it really was supposed to be? I’m not saying PayPal was in the right to destroy it but it’s possible that it really was just a fake?

    • goodfellow_puck says:

      Sure. But the point is, who gave Paypal the authority to direct a buyer to destroy the item instead of return it? How can they possibly say with certainty that the item is fake? They can’t.

      I sell second-hand items on a site (not ebay). One time, the site pulled a couple of garments that I listed, claiming the company who owned the copyright contacted them and said they were fake.

      Problem is they were 100% genuine. The site provided me with the contact info for the company contact, and I provided the lot and PO numbers on the tag to verify my claim. They saw their error, apologized, contacted the site to let them know, and I was free to list them again. THAT is how it should be handled.

      That was only the case of an item from the 90’s. Musical instruments, any sort of woodworking and/or art are not as cut and dry as a Gucci bag.

      Also, the buyer is an ASS for sending that picture to the seller. That is freaking heartbreaking, and I’m not into instruments OR the one out $2500.

      • Bibliovore says:

        “But the point is, who gave Paypal the authority to direct a buyer to destroy the item instead of return it?”

        Apparently, and ridiculously in my opinion, PayPal’s Terms of Service did — see the update on the Regretsy post.

      • ludwigk says:

        You cannot copyright a garment. Do you mean that the garments contained copyrightable material, like a picture of Mickey Mouse? That’s still a trademark claim under the lanham act, unless the company claimed that you made the garments.

    • Jane_Gage says:

      So return or impound her fake piece of crap and nuke her account. Telling someone to smash a disputed article is just begging for trouble–moreover if this was a genuine item how tragic. :(

    • Nunov Yerbizness says:

      There isn’t enough detail in this post to tell whether the buyer made a good faith effort to get his/her money back from the seller when s/he disputed the authenticity of the violin’s origins, but if the buyer went straight to PayPal instead of first contacting the seller and asking to return the violin for a full refund, then both the buyer and PayPal are assholes here.

      From the post, it appears that not only did the buyer destroy the unwanted violin, but PayPal returned the buyer’s $2,500. Even if the violin were a fake, and then even assuming the seller was aware of this, the buyer isn’t entitled to keep both the violin and the $2,500 payment. You can only dispose of purchased property as you like if you actually purchase it.

      Of course, the seller might have ignored the buyer’s complaints or refused to return the buyer’s money, in which case, she’s pretty much collecting her due in karma.

      • Jules Noctambule says:

        Considering her distress over the loss of the violin, I don’t think that deciding she failed to work with the buyer is a good assumption.

      • Charmander says:

        What exactly, is a counterfeit violin? .

        I need to go check my piano now….maybe it’s fake and I just never knew.

    • whylime says:

      Regretsy updated their post:

      “UPDATE: I neglected to mention in the original post that the violin was examined and authenticated by a top luthier prior to its sale.”

      So apparently there was at least some proof that it was legit.

      • The Fake Fake Steve Jobs says:

        So it was examined and authenticated, was there paperwork to prove that? I’m having a very hard time understanding how a collector would call something authenticated with a paperwork fake?

        • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

          Because PaylPal has a massive slant for the buyer and against the seller, and the buyer has remorse.

          • The Fake Fake Steve Jobs says:

            That does not answer the question. If authenticated, where’s the paperwork?

            Also, I’m curious as to how much time passed between receipt, and destruction? One day, one week, two weeks? Basically – was there enough time for PayPal to have investigated more than just the guy’s word? Was she contacted anywhere in the process?

            I’m not saying who is right and who is wrong, but right now I see a very one-sided story that doesn’t have all that info.

    • taqasim says:

      Who cares if it was a fake? It’s an aged instrument that was destroyed needlessly. It didn’t deserve that just because someone decided to put a certain label on it. It was made by someone’s hands, and may very well have been a good instrument, may indeed have been superior to a great many other instruments sold on EBay that are not destroyed.

  5. KrispyKrink says:

    This is why I’m a strong supporter of shooting knee caps.

  6. twerp says:

    Paypal has been pulling this for a while. Buyers declare items counterfeit and then get directed to destroy the item. WITH NO VERIFICATION!!

    • One-Eyed Jack says:

      Which is why I no longer sell on eBay. (And why a couple thousand dollars of vintage Star Wars sits in my closet…)

  7. dicobalt says:

    Paypal customer service: Worse than WWII.

  8. ancientone567 says:

    I can’t believe I am actually going to take PayPal’s side lol. But as a long time buyer and seller on Ebay I have had a lot of experience with this stuff. Years ago I bought a watch with a trademark logo on it and I knew it was fake since fakes and forgeries is my job. I have even had US Customs hire for me for my expertise on fakes and forgeries. So when I got this fake Omega watch I sent it to a watch expert which PayPal forces you to do to get a refund. After it was certified as fake they had me sent it to them to be destroyed. So I can tell this story is NOT correct as Paypal does not have the person who bought the item personally destroy the item. That would be a conflict of interest. They could have changed their procedure to this but I doubt it. For legal reasons the item has to be destroyed if it is a fake to get the money back. If you sell the item as REAL and not a COPY then expect this kind of thing to happen.

    • GTI2.0 says:

      cool story bro

    • K-Bo says:

      What I don’t get, is with the buyer destroying it instead of paypal, who is to say the pictures aren’t of a fake the buyer bought elsewhere destroyed, and they kept the real one and the money?

      • ancientone567 says:

        They have to have the item checked by a certified professional before they declare it fake.

        • jamar0303 says:

          Except that this story says the seller also had it checked out.

          • Verdant Pine Trees says:

            No, I don’t think you get it. In this sort of scam, what a person does is swap near-identical items – one they keep (the seller’s) and the one they already have (damaged, counterfeit, etc.). For instance, it happens with Xboxes and other expensive equipment.

            This is why many people who sell put secret marks on their merchandise using a pen that can only be seen under black light, so they can confirm the item they have returned to them is theirs and not a damaged copy.

            My only negative on eBay, after hundreds of orders, was something similar.

        • K-Bo says:

          Easy, take the fake you are going to destroy when you go to see the certified professional.

    • P41 says:

      Your story seems to be what SHOULD happen.
      Your assumption is that that is what happened in this case.

      Unfortunately, unless the seller is also in Canada, this can probably only be resolved in Federal Court.

      Also the original post also says that the seller had a prior reliable authentication.

    • Nyall says:

      How exactly does your _trademark_ infringement example have a relevance on an antique ?

    • pop top says:

      “So I can tell this story is NOT correct as Paypal does not have the person who bought the item personally destroy the item.”

      According to PayPal’s own ToS: “PayPal may also require you to destroy the item and to provide evidence of its destruction.”

    • Rachacha says:

      There is a big difference between a counterfeit watch or handbag and an antique. Ever watch shows like Antique Roadshow, Auction Kings or other shows that show experts in certain industries purchasing items from individuals? People come in and say that the piece has been in the family for years, and they believe it was authentic and had what they considered proof to back it up. The buyer or appraiser researched the piece and determined it to have no historical significance or that it was a reproduction piece. That does not make the piece a counterfeit, it simply makes the piece worthless (or not worth the thousants of dollars that the owner thought it was worth). The buyer should have contacted the seller to dispute the authenticity of the piece. If the Seller refused to refund the money in exchange for the violin the buyer should contact Paypal who in exchange for the violin would refund the money and would return the property back to the seller. Paypal could at their discretion ban the product from future sale on PP, or close the seller’s account for suspected fraudulent sales, but in no case shoule they authorize the destruction of property unless instructed to do so by a state or federal regulatory agency.

      • ajaxd says:

        It would depend on the kind of a copy. A reproduction of say, antique sword, is a legitimate item and it has some value but a reproduction of an antique Rolex is still illegal. I don’t know what happened in the violin case but in general you can expect a counterfeit item to be seized and destroyed.

        • whylime says:

          But that’s the problem. The item wasn’t seized and destroyed. It was just destroyed by the buyer, which is extremely questionable.

          Paypal seems to have determined that the violin was “counterfeit” without ever having their hands on it, and just took the buyers word for it. What should have happened, was that Paypal should have had the buyer mail the violin to an expert (ideally one that Paypal has a prior relationship with) for appraisal, and if the expert deemed it an illegal fake, they would seize the item and destroy it themselves, and the buyer would receive a refund.

          It’s pretty obvious that this didn’t happen, since Paypal had the buyer destroy it. They took the word of the buyer, and whatever paperwork the buyer sent them, which could very well be a forgery, since the buyer stood to gain $2500 from it.

        • Firethorn says:

          With antiques, it gets even more complicated – there are fakes out there that are worth more than the authentic item, for whatever reason. It’s just that it has to be a *good* fake, and one that’s been around long enough to become antique in it’s own right.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      “Omega watch I sent it to a watch expert which PayPal forces you to do to get a refund.”

      Why, then, did PayPal not order the buyer to get this “fake” authenticated as such before a refund could be rewarded?

      I see no logic behind your evidence as to why you support PP in this case.

      • ancientone567 says:

        “Why, then, did PayPal not order the buyer to get this “fake” authenticated as such before a refund could be rewarded?”

        That is their policy as I understand it. They cannot call and item fake unless and expert says it is.

    • Kestris says:

      The violin was authenticated by a person well versed in such things. There was no reason for PayPal to take the buyer’s word at face value without verifying the authentication themselves.

      • ancientone567 says:

        Well that is definitely an issue then. If Pay Pal was aware that the piece already had a solid certificate of authenticity with it then you have grounds for a lawsuit.

  9. T. Bone says:

    Pay Pal sucks!

  10. flarn2006 says:

    Why should the violin be destroyed? As long as the buyer knows it’s counterfeit, him having it isn’t hurting anyone, including PayPal. Why would PayPal only give a refund if it’s destroyed?

    • K-Bo says:

      Otherwise buyer buys real item, sees it is real, reports it as fake anyway, and keeps the item and the money. What doesn’t make sense here is paypal telling the buyer to do it, rather than having it returned to them so they can destroy it in order to prevent buyers scamming them and sellers.

      • P41 says:

        Any scammer would just take the next step, and send back a used-high-school violin (or something to replace whatever item they ordered) as if it was what was originally sent.
        It seems like what would really be useful if USPS, UPS or Fedex had a service where for an extra dollar you could buy not just a tracking number, but also digital video (taken by the post office and displayed when putting in the tracking number to track shipment) of the inside before the box is sealed and/or video of the box being opened when it’s picked up from at the post office before the buyer leaves. Would be a big help in deciding whether there was a laptop or a brick that got shipped.

        • tinyninja says:

          We do a version of this at my UPS Store to cover our behinds.

          Should you bring in a small high value item such as a piece of jewelry or a coin, we photocopy the item with you standing there–copies for us, copies for you, require that we pack it, require insurance, require Next Day or Second Day, and require that you watch us pack it.

          We rarely have claims anyway, but we have a squeaky clean track record on high value items.

    • Jules Noctambule says:

      I guess that along with being an unregulated bank, PayPal also wants to be an uneducated appraiser and imbalanced court.

      • katieintheburg says:

        I don’t understand how a violin could be counterfeit? It may not be worth what was paid, but if the violin plays it’s a violin. Now, if I sold you a hypothetical violin from Walmart and told you it was the most expensive violin on the market AND altered the Walmart violin in some way to appear to be the expensive violin (added special markings or a trademarked logo) that would be counterfeit, but with antiques i don’t see how it could be deemed a “counterfeit”. Seems like it should have been returned to the seller if they disputed the authenticity.

        I like that PayPal follows the mantra ‘Pics or it didn’t happen.’

        • kobresia says:

          Easy. It has a maker’s mark. If it was not made by Maurice Bourignon, but someone put a maker’s tag in it claiming it was, it’s counterfeit. There’s probably a good chance it was artificially aged and dirtied-up to make it look like an antique, too.

          If the violin was a fake like a cheap, modern counterfeit from China as others have mentioned, sure, maybe it would play. But it probably would have lousy tone and might show other signs of poor workmanship. I’m not even hugely musically inclined, but I’m still well aware that sometimes it’s better to not try to even try learning on an inferior instrument that doesn’t sound quite right or hold tune. Attempting to do so will likely just lead to a lot of frustration and poor technique, and someone who really is skilled would probably rather just see the junk destroyed rather than inflict that misery on someone else.

  11. MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

    It can’t be long before scamming people using PayPal becomes a cottage industry, after which they will hopefully collapse into a singularity of suck under the weight of all the lawsuits.

    • Jules Noctambule says:

      It already is a cottage industry on eBay. A thriving one, too.

      • BBBB says:

        This happens with crooked sellers as well as buyers. Also in brick and mortar stores with both buyers and sellers.

    • evilpete says:

      Too late, it had been happening for years.

      I have more then a few friends that have lost Network and $$ when the buyer claims is was dead on arrival.

      Another scam when someone buys a item for you and switches it with a broken model they already have, they then mail you the broken one and demand a refund.

  12. wadexyz says:

    Not sure why, but I find it kinda cool that PayPal ordered the buyer to smash it into pieces…….

  13. thomwithanh says:

    I’m sorry OP, but why the HELL would you sell an antique violin on eBay? You could have gotten much more than $2500 for it at an antique music store.

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDave‚Ñ¢ says:

      Or on Pawn Stars. Rick happens to have a friend who is an expert in antique violins bought off eBay and then destroyed on the instructions of PayPal.

  14. evilpete says:

    lucky it was not a Stradivarius

  15. Straspey says:

    The label on the violin in the photo bears the name of Maurice Bourguignon, who was a maker of fine violins from the early part of the 20th century.

    One website I checked gives a replacement (insurance) value of one of his violins at between $10,000 – $20,000 … which is not a lot of money when you are dealing in the world of fine stringed instruments, where just a bow can easily cost $20,000.

    From the look of the quality of the wood shiny varnish, it’s a pretty sure bet that the violin in the picture is a fake – probably worth no more than $250 – if even that.

    If you go on eBay, you’ll see it’s possible to buy a Stradivarius violin. A real Stradivarius is worth about three million dollars – and I’ve actually had the privilege of handling a genuine Strad on a couple of occasions.

    I know a guy here in the NY City area who repairs and deals in the real world of fine stringed instruments. He tells me that people come into his shop all excited about this terrific deal they found on eBay – only to be crushed when he has to tell them the truth – which is that their violin is a piece of junk.

    eBay is great if you are looking for a starter violin for a student – or if you played it in your college orchestra and now want to try “getting back into it” as an adult amateur.

    However – anybody who thinks they can really buy a quality violin (viola, cello, etc.) on eBay is a fool – and they deserve what they get.

    • ajlien says:

      Wait, they deserve what they get because they don’t know the going rate for musical instruments? That’s reasonable.

    • inputhike says:

      I think the idea of buying an instrument without seeing it in person (and playing it!) just plain sounds crazy, at least if we’re talking about an instrument to play. That sounds rather like buying a used car without checking under the hood. Who does that?

      • AstroPig7 says:

        I’ve done it once. Left-handed classical guitars are difficult to find, so I bought one sight unseen from a shop in New York. It’s a great guitar, but this is not a practice I would often recommend.

        • MrEvil says:

          Pretty much left-handed anything is going to be a sight-unseen purchase. Especially if there is no right-hand equivalent. I bought a left-handed bolt action rifle once and had to base my purchase off shooting the right hand version.

    • We Have a Piper Down says:

      The pic looks staged. The label just HAPPENS to stay THAT intact? I think the violin in the pic is a forgery of the one he bought and he just wanted his money back so he could resell the violin for a nice profit. I deal with this shit all the time.

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        My thought exactly. He pulled the old switcheroo on PP and made like a bandit.

    • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

      I’m guessing the person who bought it swapped it with that fake and sold the real one for a big profit seeing as they didn’t have to pay for it. That is more typical of an Ebay scam.

    • Earl Butz says:

      Back in another lifetime, it seems, I used to import cheap Chinese violins. I recognize the instrument in the picture as being one of them. You could stop right at the varnish, that’s enough to tell it’s fake, but there are other details as well

      Also, the computer-printed label is kind of a dead giveaway.

      • Straspey says:

        Thank you.

        As it turn out, Maurice Bourguinon was a luthier from the late 18th-early 19th century. A few of his violins and bows still exist and are usually valued in the low 5-figures.

        This story has created a lot of buzz on other areas of the internet:

      • Kestris says:

        I call bull. You cannot tell simply by looking at a photo of pieces of what had once been a violin that it was a copy.

        And if you did indeed sell violins, you would have known that in the violin world, there are no counterfiets, only copies and cheap knockoffs.

    • BStu78 says:

      You obviously enjoy feeling like you are an authority, but your Google research is quite blatently lazy. I searched this maker, too, and found violins listed in the same price range. Audobon Strings is selling one of his violins for $3,300. Sotheby’s sold one for $4,378. Back in 2003, someone on netinstruments had one for sale for $1,390. I don’t doubt that he might have some instruments valued much higher, but it was not hard to find proof that $2,500 is within the range of other instruments sold by this luthier. Its a good deal, but hardly a suspiciously good one.

  16. We Have a Piper Down says:

    Is it possible, and I throw this out because I deal with people like this all the time in my line of work, that the buyer forged his own copy of the violin (bought a crap broken violin and applied a very easy to fake label, kept the “real” one, got the money back, and sent her the photo of the trashed fake violin to be a monumental asshole?
    If it’s indeed real, he could then resell and make a tidy profit that cost him nothing.

    A violin, even a run of the mill violin, can cost around 2500 anyway, so even if it WAS a fake, he still has a violin that is worth the money he paid for it. Hell, I just bought a STUDENT flute for my daughter, the same model I had starting out, and its price has gone up considerably since my day. It’s around 1000 bucks now.

    • inputhike says:

      I was thinking the same thing. I don’t remember exactly how much my violin was, but it was more than $2500 (and it wasn’t a special maker or anything like that). I suspect the $2500 violin in this story was a $2500 violin.

      • We Have a Piper Down says:

        Plus this pic is too perfect. The label remained perfectly intact like that? Seems a bit staged to me.

    • Straspey says:

      A few examples directly from eBay:

      63,347 results found for violin:

      Buy It Now – $49.99

      “Stentor 1500 Student II Series Full Size Violin Outfit”
      Buy It Now – $159.86

      “NEW! NATURAL Student Violin Fiddle SETUP WITH BOX”
      0 Bids $0.10 Time left:12h 56m

      And to make my point –

      16 Bids $41.00 Time left:4m

      A German-made violin from 1732 and the current high bid is $41.00


      • We Have a Piper Down says:

        and I could have gotten my daughter a crappy flute that cost 50 bucks. there are also guitars at target that sell for 30 bucks. These also break around a month in and cost more than they are worth to get them in working order. Most of the low-end instruments are super cheap, but no self-respecting music teacher is going to allow a student to practice on a 50 dollar instrument.

        Anyway, I am talking instruments from a reputable dealer. eBay is not a reputable dealer, but even the student model flute I just bought is selling for 500 on eBay USED.

      • kenboy says:

        Dude, read one of the (many) listings for this “1732” violin, like this one:

        “Inside label says “ROTHENBURG violin. Copy of violin made by Antonio Stradavarious in the year 1732.””

        Wow, that was hard.

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        Like auctions don’t all start at $20 and then shoot to $10000 in the last 5 minutes? Come on, this is eBay!

    • pop top says:

      This has nothing to do with the article but, I love your username so much.

    • StarfishDiva says:

      When I was in orchestra as a kid/teenager my parents drove me to big old fancy Atlanta (ha.) and bought me a really nice Schroetter. It was $800 at the time. It’s not worth crap now (checked ebay, no wonder I never pawned it), but let me tell you there was a reason I sat first chair and it wasn’t because of my “talent” that violin SOUNDED like BUTTAH. Some rich girl who had a much more expensive violin STOLE mine for a state competition, switched mine out of the case with hers, my dad was so infuriated he drove us down to Columbia to the campus and got into fisticuffs with that girl, who told her parents that I let her borrow it.

      I don’t think that story really had anything to do with anything, but seriously if you play a stringed instruments it’s not so much the price, but the SOUND, and I never had to mute that thing it always sounded so clean and buttery, I just can’t describe it, I would play the other’s kids violas, cellos, violins and they sounded like a cat on a hot tin roof.

      Why do I keep mentioning butter with my violin? Must be the Deen effect.

  17. Weekilter says:

    PayPal = eBay = evil

  18. Dalsnsetters says:

    I have a bassoon that was made in Germany in 1710. It is worth $10,000 and I do have an appraisal certificate. If this violin were my bassoon, binding arbitration or not, PayPal would have a lawsuit on their hands.

    As has been mentioned by others, I was not aware that PayPal was now in the antique musical instrument appraisal business.

    This is tragic.

    • ancientone567 says:

      ” I was not aware that PayPal was now in the antique musical instrument appraisal business.”

      They are not and they do need to find another way to determine who has the credentials to tell fake from real pieces. The way is is now the buyer has to find someone who is willing to do it for free. That means that you may actually get unqualified so called experts. I actually do not know any really good appraisers that work for free.

  19. One-Eyed Jack says:

    Whisky. Tango. Foxtrot.

  20. Happy Tinfoil Cat says:

    Wow, what a way to scam money!

    1 – buy expensive antique
    2 – claim it is counterfeit
    3 – fake a photo of its destruction
    4 – get your money back
    5 – sell expensive antique for 100% profit

  21. Almighty Peanut says:

    UPDATE: I neglected to mention in the original post that the violin was examined and authenticated by a top luthier prior to its sale.

    oh man… if she has a certificate of authenticity from this expert, this is an easy small claims court case. the buyer or even paypal have no proof since they destroyed it. i suggest the seller call that toll free number for judge judy! :D

    • ahecht says:

      Except that all PayPal would have to do in SCC is point to the Mandatory Binding Arbitration clause and get the case thrown out.

      • YouDidWhatNow? says:

        Which is 100% proof why MBA should be illegal across the board. It’s violently abusive to the consumer.

    • SlimDan22 says:

      Have no idea how that works with a buyer in Canada and a Seller in the U.S.

  22. shufflemoomin says:

    I’m going by the fact that he doesn’t seem upset ENOUGH to me to judge that it likely was counterfeit. A lot of fools buy stuff from China, notably TradeTang and are stupid enough to try to pass them off as genuine. Not saying that’s what happened here, but if you lost a supposed antique violin AND $2500, would you be so lackadaisical with your attitude in writing about it?

  23. katarzyna says:

    I don’t understand. If there was a dispute and the buyer thought it was fake, wouldn’t the reasonable course of action be to return the violin to the seller for a refund?

  24. tundey says:

    I don’t get why it has to be destroyed on Paypal’s say so. They are just the payment processor and not involved in the actual sale. Either they process the money or they don’t. But they shouldn’t be in the business of determining fakes or mandating that products be destroyed.

    • airren says:

      I’ll second that sentiment.

      Also, I think nobody should use Paypal anymore. They’ve jumped the shark too many times now for me to trust them with money.

  25. EnergyStarr says:

    even if it was a counterfeit label on the violin, it was probably worth several hundred dollars at very minimum if it was a Chinese factory export. as an owner of 2 french violins this story kills me.

  26. Coelacanth says:

    PayPal Breaks Violins!

    If somebody could only write a catchy tune!

  27. hmburgers says:

    If true, this is gross… Paypal needs to be stopped…

  28. Hermia says:

    Well this was finally the kick in the pants I needed to close my Paypal account. Feels good, too. Thankfully the animal shelter I give to monthly has another process, so I can continue to give to them without using Paypal. Less fees for them, too.

  29. Hermia says:

    Well this was finally the kick in the pants I needed to close my Paypal account. Feels good, too. Thankfully the animal shelter I give to monthly has another process, so I can continue to give to them without using Paypal. Less fees for them, too.

  30. newmie says:

    You should never use Paypal unless there is no other choice. I only use them if the amount is small enough that it won’t hurt me to lose it.

  31. donjumpsuit says:

    The only reason I am interested in this article, is because she mentioned she actually got someone on the phone from Paypal. i thought that was virtually impossible.

  32. Rocket says:

    “PayPal may also require you to destroy the item and to provide evidence of its destruction.”

    From PayPal’s Terms of Service. WTF?

  33. YouDidWhatNow? says:

    Have I mentioned lately that eBay/PayPal is the most evil corporation the world has ever seen, outside of actually actively killing people and/or squishing kittens and puppies?

    eBay/PayPal has been richly deserving of utter destruction for a very long time now. At the VERY least they should be split apart into multiple, disconnected companies again. I honestly think the best thing would be for eBay/PayPal to be claimed by the government and made a public service. Which is probably the first and last time I’d ever even say such a thing…granted how little faith I have in our government.

    …but even a sackful of rabid nazi monkeys couldn’t be as abusive to the public as eBay/PayPal is now.

  34. Earl Butz says:

    The pictured instrument is a cheap Chinese built violin with a recently made sticker applied. Not sure if that’s the one we’re talking about in the article.

    • kobresia says:

      I’m curious as to what you’re noticing about it to make that determination, but yes– it’s the photo from the Regretsy post. It looks to be made of plywood to me, is that what you’re thinking, too?

      • kobresia says:

        Hmm, looking more closely, I see that some pieces split cleanly, only parts look like there may be a ply.

      • Straspey says:

        Do a search for the name of the maker on the label in the photo.

        Eventually you’ll find sites with photographs of violins which were, in fact, actually built by that person – which date from around 1925.

        Then you can formulate your own opinion about the smashed instrument.

        • kobresia says:

          Yeah, I somehow skipped over your other post, it was pretty informative. Looks like a cheapo that was good for little other than being smashed into splinters, people who pass-off forgeries and counterfeits deserve to lose their trash.

        • selianth says:

          Instead of being coy, could you post some links? I can’t seem to find many of the pictures you’re talking about and I’d like to see for myself.

    • selianth says:

      Is it really possible to appraise the violin from this photograph and determine it’s origin and/or authenticity? Without being able to handle it, see the pieces up close, see all sides of the pieces, in the proper lighting conditions, etc.? Are you or Straspey experts in violin appraisal such that someone would actually trust you to tell them the worth of an instrument? I would like to hear some details.

  35. jammygrammie says:

    I nominate PayPal for a shot at the Golden Poo.
    And I’d like to retire ‘jump the shark’ and replace it with ‘PayPal breaks another violin’.

  36. SteveHolt says:

    I read this on Regretsy yesterday and I’m glad it made it to Consumerist.. though its not like Paypal pays attention or cares about its negative publicity.

    How is that company allowed to even exist anymore? God, please, someone come up with a better option. I know all about the alternatives, but they aren’t taking hold.

    That’s it. I’m writing a letter to Google. They’ll help us!

  37. SlimDan22 says:

    This makes me more leary of selling expensive things on Ebay. I already document the crap out of everything as it is when i sell something, now this just brings it to a whole different level

  38. SlimDan22 says:

    What ever happened to returning an item then giving a refund?

  39. I Love Christmas says:

    I have to say that I’m completely horrified that someone actually broke a violin for that stupid of a reason.

    • phsiii says:

      Right…I don’t get why they thought it reasonable to do that just because PayPal said so. As our parents used to say, “If your friend told you to jump off a building, would you do it?”

      If PayPal told me to smash something, I’d at least talk to the seller first. The buyer is at least partly at fault here for being a moron.

  40. MonkeyMonk says:

    Is the violin was indeed legit, why wouldn’t the seller have a legitimate legal claim against the buyer? Just because PayPal told them to break it doesn’t mean they had to comply.

  41. edrebber says:

    The seller agreed to allow Paypal to be the sole arbiter for determining authenticity.

    “Further, if you lose a SNAD Claim because we, in our sole discretion, reasonably believe the item you sold is counterfeit, you will be required to provide a full refund to the buyer and you will not receive the item back (it will be destroyed). PayPal Seller protection will not cover your liability.”

  42. Claybird says:

    I got a counterfeit Videodrome DVD once, guess I should’ve complained to Pay Pal…

  43. nilsine says:

    I had a Paypal experience while selling a car on Craig’s List. Had a scam email, telling me they would buy the car sight-unseen through Paypal and would have their shipping company pick it up. I responded that I did not have a Paypal account and never heard from them again. Their email address, it turns out was in POLAND. I believe they have some method of hacking into a Paypal account if you give them your sign-in name. I’ll never use Paypal.

  44. taqasim says:

    A violin should never be destroyed, especially one which is more than 50 years old. First of all, the wood used to make violins is becoming more rare and precious — traditionally, even for new instruments, the tree must be at least 500 years old, and there is a shortage of this material now. Even if the authenticity of the instrument is in doubt, it doesn’t mean it’s not a good instrument. Many dealers have faked labels at some point in an instrument’s history in order to sell the instrument, but that doesn’t mean the original maker and the instrument was not good, and regardless, age usually improves the quality of the instrument. It’s really heartbreaking to see the instrument in this condition, and all I can think when looking at this photo is “What ignorant fool caused this to happen?” Boo PayPal.