PayPal Smashed Some Lady's Antique Violin, and Can Smash Yours Too

Buying and selling stuff online can be stressful, since you're always guarding against getting ripped off. Luckily, intermediaries like PayPal are in place to mediate disputes. Which apparently means having your antique violin smashed open to see if it's fake, then not compensating you in any way.

A reader named Erica wrote in to Regretsy with her story about selling a French WWII-era violin to a buyer in Canada. There was a dispute about the violin's label, which is apparently common in the violin selling trade. Erica had had a luthier inspect the instrument prior to the sale, but PayPal decided to have the buyer totally obliterate the violin just to be sure.

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.

Apparently there's a clause in the buyer's agreement with PayPal for being refunded that says PayPal can "require you to destroy the item in question, and provide evidence of its destruction." So now Erica's out the $2500 and the violin and (presumably) the fee for the initial inspection. Great. Reddit users have chimed in with their own PayPal horror stories as well.

Making buyers destroy some items might make sense, like, if they cost less than the price of shipping it back to the seller. But for an item that even claims to be an antique or historical gem, can't PayPal do better than this? [Regretsy via Reddit]

Update: PayPal reached us with this comment, which actually makes some sense on the why is this thing being destroyed end of things:

"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."