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PayPal makes eBay customer destroy $2,500 violin, seller left empty handed


(CBS) - Here's a heartbreaking case of botched communication, thanks to an eBay customer and PayPal policy.

This letter was sent to the blog Regretsy by a reader named Erica, telling of a transaction turned tragedy.

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.

Rather than have the violin returned to me, PayPal made the buyer DESTROY the violin in order to get his money back. They somehow deemed the violin as "counterfeit" even though there is no such thing in the violin world.

The buyer was proud of himself, so he sent me a photo of the destroyed violin.

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.

As TechCrunch points out, Erica could have very well sold a fake. But is it PayPal's duty to step in and have their customers destroy goods without real evidence? I thought PayPal was a payment service. They should facilitated exchanges between their customers, not make judgements on counterfeits.

To be fair, the payment company's terms and conditions state that "PayPal may also require you to destroy the item and to provide evidence of its destruction."

Whatever the reason for their policy, it's just an odd case.

And what about the buyer? If counterfeit is so rare in the violin world, wouldn't the buyer have second thoughts about destroying the item? Unfortunately, we don't know if the seller had a return policy. This might have been the only way for the buyer to get their money back.

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