A PayPal dispute is never pretty, as demonstrated by a case that led to the destruction of a $2,500 French violin that lived through World War II. Regretsy recently published a letter from someone named Erica who sold the violin to a buyer in Canada. Erica claims the violin was authenticated by a luthier (someone who makes and repairs string instruments) prior to the sale, but the buyer subsequently disputed its label.
PayPal sided with the buyer, and recognized the item as a counterfeit good. In accordance with its terms and conditions, the buyer had to present proof that the item had been destroyed before a refund can be processed. A picture of the smashed instrument is also posted on Regretsy, although a few people commented that the pieces didn't look like a violin's, thereby casting doubt on the veracity of the story. In her letter, Erica expresses her belief that there's no such thing as a counterfeit in the violin world. It's worth noting, however, that organizations like the American Federation of Violin and Bow Makers recognize the existence of fake instruments.
It's a shame to see an old musical instrument destroyed whether the label is authentic or not, but it seems to be inevitable in this case. Speaking to The Register, PayPal says there's nothing it could have done to preserve the item — it's legally bound to have the violin destroyed. "The reason why we reserve the option to ask the buyer to destroy the goods is that in many countries, including the U.S., it is a criminal offense to mail counterfeit goods back to a seller."
[Image credit: Daniel Valentine]
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