Or so says a former employee of ArtQuest, the non-profit group that runs the Lehigh Valley’s kick-butt music festival (this will be the 29th year it’s being held). The former employee claims that the group is passing off Chinese-made beer steins as coming from the legendary Gerz factory in Germany:
Rebecca Stoneback, who taught a glassblowing class and worked in an ArtsQuest gift shop, alleges that in mid-March she found the steins in their original shipping boxes that show they came from China and told her superiors she wouldn’t sell the steins unless they stopped advertising them as German-made.
She said in the suit that her concerns were dismissed and she was told the steins weren’t made in China. The next day, she was told she was no longer needed at ArtsQuest, the nonprofit that puts on the German-themed, 10-day music and beer festival called Musikfest.
She’s suing over her termination and has brought forth a class-action suit, claiming ArtsQuest “conspired to commit mail and wire fraud” by ordering custom Musikfest merchandise from Xiamen, China, and promoting it as coming from Germany.
Needless to say, a few collectors are hopping mad at the alleged deception. And can you blame them? It’s one thing when we individually make a mistake and get ripped-off by an unscrupulous seller, but it’s another thing entirely when a trusted institution sells us a bill-of-goods.
But there are legitimate questions surrounding the original claim that the steins are German-made, as Gerz went out of business in 1997 and then sold its blue sky to a company known as DOMEX. For some time now, DOMEX has been hawking their Chinese-manufactured steins as German-made, something that has been a point of controversy in the stein-collecting community.
And all of this raises a number of questions. Did ArtQuest know the steins were phony (I’m guessing they didn’t)? If so, they too could be seen as victims. And DOMEX, according to this article at steincollectors.org, has already settled a suit in Germany, which included the provision that the company would agree to pay a fine of approximately $25,000 for each future violation.
Does the settlement’s jurisdiction extend to all the mugs sold in Pennsylvania over the past decade-plus? If so, ouch!