EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 2711 - January 05, 2012     1 of 4

Violin Saga Brings Attention to PayPal's Destroy-Counterfeits Policy

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After building an audience publishing blog posts mocking items on Etsy, Regretsy has turned its sights on PayPal after having a dispute with the company over the holidays, and mainstream media are listening.

On Tuesday, the Regretsy blog published a letter from a U.S. reader named Erica who claimed PayPal had ordered her Canadian buyer to destroy the violin he had purchased from her. "Rather than have the violin returned to me, PayPal made the buyer DESTROY the violin in order to get his money back," she wrote.

The blog post sparked outrage and news outlets picked up the story, including CBS, the Toronto Sun and the Guardian, which said PayPal told them, "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 offence to mail counterfeit goods back to a seller."

PayPal's policy on counterfeiting is not news to EcommerceBytes readers. As detailed in this EcommerceBytes article, PayPal asks foreign buyers of U.S. items to destroy counterfeit items after providing the company with documentation from a third party that the item is counterfeit. Here is the pertinent section:

"If an international buyer purchases an item, the buyer will be instructed to provide PayPal with evidence (documentation from a 3rd party) that the item is counterfeit. PayPal will validate the documentation and then ask the buyer to destroy the item and attest to this action by signing an affidavit."

Going back further in the EcommerceBytes archives, this 2008 article Where Do eBay Fakes Go to Die covered PayPal's policy of reselling items that are "Significantly Not as Described" by the seller.

Do you have stories to share about PayPal's destroy counterfeits policy?

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About the author:

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to

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