PayPal Responds To Violin Incident

By: Shaylin Clark - January 6, 2012

On Wednesday we ran a story about PayPal’s latest PR problem. It seems a woman sold an antique violin worth $2500. When the buyer received it, however, there arose a dispute over the label (which is apparently not uncommon the in the violin world). When the buyer asked PayPal for a refund, they decided that the violin must be counterfeit, and ordered the buyer to destroy it in order to get his money back.

While preparing that story, I sent a request for comment to PayPal. They got back to me with the following statement:

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.

Unfortunately, this isn’t really that much of an answer. They decline to discuss the specifics of the case, but state that signed evidence from a knowledgeable third party is required before they ask the buyer to destroy an item. According to the seller, however, the violin had already been examined before being sent, and its authenticity was confirmed. It remains unclear whether PayPal really did require the buyer to present proof from a third party before ordering the violin’s destruction. I asked PayPal’s representative in a follow-up email whether the buyer had provided the necessary evidence. I also asked what, if any, recourse the seller might have, since she has lost both the violin and the $2500 she was paid for it. As yet I have not received a response.

Shaylin Clark

About the Author

Shaylin ClarkShaylin Clark is a staff writer for WebProNews. Email:, Twitter: @stclark81, Google Plus:

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  • UberdanSounds

    You won’t get an update or even a real human response. Please keep trying though! Expose these crooks for all that they are.

  • GQ Design

    This is actually quite alarming and clearly if Paypal’s procedures in these instances are inadequate then then the whole process is open to abuse by those with criminal intent. I would love to know whether or indeed how Paypal verify a ‘knowledgable third party’. Maybe not so much ‘let the buyer beware’ as Paypal certainly seems to protect them (quite rightly so) as let the seller beware.

    • Survival Jones

      Yes, you are right, I think that eBay sellers have thought this for a long time

      • Philip Cohen

        The real problem here is that the criminal intent, or at least the habitual criminal facilitaton, is coming from both the eBafia and PreyPal.

        eBay / PayPal / Donahoe: Dead Men Walking.

  • Survival Jones

    Personally, I think that it was a PayPal employee who just followed their standard codes of practise without actually consulting anyone higher up about it. With so many cases and problems to deal with, they must have a quota to meet. That’s just my humble opinion.

    I am waiting to see whether they come up with a scapegoat

  • robert meadows

    If I were contemplating buying a violin of this value I would wish to handle, try and hear it before buying. Distance buying any stringed instrument seems full of potential risk quite apart from this Paypal issue. It is well known that many violins are erroneously labled. I have no interest in Paypal other than being a satisfied user. Once, when a minor issue arose Paypal dealt fairly with both parties.