A PayPal Saga

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Raphael
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A PayPal Saga

Post by Raphael »

A few years ago, a good friend (one of the world's leading phonograph collectors) asked me for help getting a valuable 200-year old musical pocket watch fixed. I succeeded in doing so, but the repair took about 18 months, as a part of it had to be sent to it's birthplace in Switzerland. Anyway, after the watch was fixed my friend asked me to sell it for him.

I've had the watch on my website and on eBay a number of times over a period of a few years. Nobody ever seemed seriously interested until a fellow from Los Angeles came along and asked me dozens of questions, had me make videos, etc. I got so fed up with him that I canceled the eBay listing, banned him from buying from me, and told him not to bother me any further.

Well, don't you know, he called me a few days later, pleaded with me to sell him the watch, all the time asking more questions, etc. I finally agreed (against my better judgment) to sell him the watch for $5500 and sent him a PayPal invoice clearly stating AS-IS, NO RETURNS. He paid, and I overnighted the watch to him by FedEx.

Sure enough, as soon as he got the watch, he called me and said it was defective. After questioning him, it turned out that he ignored the engraved instructions on the watch and the repeater function was not working properly because he had moved the hands manually instead of by the rear adjustment knob. I told him to return the watch to me, I would fully refund his money, that was the best he could do.

He then proceeded to put in a claim with PayPal, demanding almost $3000 for repairs, and then sending ME an invoice for $5500, saying that if I paid it he would return the watch.

PayPal advised me of the claim, and here's where it really gets interesting: PayPal stated the following:

"The buyer stated that the item was defective or not as described. Please be aware that due to consumer protection laws, PayPal cannot guarantee the return of your merchandise if the case is found in favor of the buyer."

In other words, if he convinces Paypal that the watch is "Not As Described", he doesn't have to return it and he will receive a refund.

I wonder on what planet anybody would conceive of such a scenario. But here we are, and I am wondering how this will play out. Keep posted!

Raphael

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TinfoilPhono
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Re: A PayPal Saga

Post by TinfoilPhono »

:o :o :o

What a nightmare!

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Curt A
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Re: A PayPal Saga

Post by Curt A »

Lesson: If people seem crazy, trust your gut... they probably are... and stay as far away from them as possible. :?
This is especially true if you encounter them while driving...
"The phonograph† is not of any commercial value."
Thomas Alva Edison - Comment to his assistant, Samuel Insull.

"No one needs a Victrola XX, a Perfected Graphophone Type G, or whatever you call those noisy things."
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Raphael
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Re: A PayPal Saga

Post by Raphael »

Rene, Curt, you are both right. I have been in business for almost 45 years, and have always walked away from deals involving somebody I could not trust. I have no idea what came over me to do this deal, and I am sure if the watch was mine I would have been more careful. But after about 4 years it was pressing on my brain to get this watch sold for my friend. Actually, under the circumstances, I should been even more careful because it was not mine.

Raphael

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Inigo
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Re: A PayPal Saga

Post by Inigo »

In the end, maybe you've got to visit this man and try to undo the deal personally... I would get some legal assistance prior to doing anything, though. I wish you luck, keep us reported... Uh! :shock:
Inigo

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Raphael
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Re: A PayPal Saga

Post by Raphael »

Actually, I did propose that my representative could pick up the watch and I would refund the money simultaneously, which he declined. Paypal is aware of my proposal, and that his refusal speaks of his nefarious intentions.

Raphael

erunltd
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Re: A PayPal Saga

Post by erunltd »

It would be curious to know what consumer protection law they are referring to.
Consumer protection laws are both State and Federal. It also seems that Paypal
would be aiding and abetting a potential fraud without sufficient proof being
provided by the claimant buyer.

Personally, I would not walk away from this and just cut my losses. Paypal may be
making itself a defendant in this matter. These conflicts should be decided by
independent arbitration and not paypal itself.

As a seller there seems no wording to use in which you can protect yourself under
Paypal policies.

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Curt A
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Re: A PayPal Saga

Post by Curt A »

I might notify the police in his area about the fraud. If nothing else, it might convince him to return it.

How much stolen money is considered a federal offense?
It is important to understand how much money and property involved are considered federal offenses. This means that for any amount of at least $1000, it does not matter if it is real estate, records available to the public or other assets, it is possible to face fines and jail sentences.

The stolen property's value is often what determines if the crime is a felony or misdemeanor. In order to be a felony theft, the value of the property must exceed a minimum amount established by state law, typically between $500 and $1,000.

If the watch was sent through the mail, it is also considered to be mail fraud. The PayPal transaction might also qualify as wire fraud.
Mail fraud and wire fraud are federal crimes in the United States that involve mailing or electronically transmitting something associated with fraud. Jurisdiction is claimed by the federal government if the illegal activity crosses interstate or international borders.

In the U.S., grand larceny is defined as being the theft of property of which the value is over a specified figure. This specified figure varies from state to state; however, the minimum value usually ranges from $500-$2000. In some states, grand larceny may be called grand theft.

I would send this info to PayPal, as well, notifying them of their potential involvement/participation in this type of crime, especially since the amount is $5,500.00...
"The phonograph† is not of any commercial value."
Thomas Alva Edison - Comment to his assistant, Samuel Insull.

"No one needs a Victrola XX, a Perfected Graphophone Type G, or whatever you call those noisy things."
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Raphael
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Re: A PayPal Saga

Post by Raphael »

All good ideas, but I have to wait for the situation to end before taking any actions. PayPal has now told him to return the watch and me to have $5500 ready in my account to refund him when the watch arrives.

If (and that’s a big “IF”) the watch is returned, I will have the delivery carrier stand by while I make a video of the box being opened. It would not surprise me if he returns a different watch, or a smashed, one, etc. I may even ask my neighbor to be a second witness. If there is anything wrong, I will immediately call the police and begin a fraud case.

If he doesn’t return the watch and PayPal closes the case in my favor, I have no doubt he will then proceed with a “chargeback” with his credit card company.

A few years ago somebody in CA was selling a Hexaphone on eBay. He had pirated some pictures and was selling something he didn’t own or have any right to sell (the machine was at Solvang Antiques). I recognized this right away, and when I won the auction, he told me he was out of the country, and would I please wire the money to his “accountant”. I checked with the state of CA, and sure enough there was no such accountant. I then filed a fraud case which, as you can guess, went nowhere. But then I listed the Brooklyn Bridge Phonograph for sale on eBay, and went into the details in the body of the listing, including the Hexaphone’s seller’s vital details. Of course, eBay took it down after two days, but I got the information out to the collecting community. I think I also reported it on the Forum as well.

Raphael

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Curt A
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Re: A PayPal Saga

Post by Curt A »

I knew you would be on top of it, great idea to video the box opening... Good luck, hopefully it will turn out well...
"The phonograph† is not of any commercial value."
Thomas Alva Edison - Comment to his assistant, Samuel Insull.

"No one needs a Victrola XX, a Perfected Graphophone Type G, or whatever you call those noisy things."
My Wife

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