United Press International:

A persistent concert pianist was jailed after repeatedly demanding a refund from Priceline.com, the New York Post reports.

Juilliard-trained Ronnie Segev sued Priceline earlier this month, alleging the corporate giant billed him for a $953 plane ticket he never purchased, then had its top lawyer call the police after he phoned 215 times to ask for his money back.

Segev, who has played Carnegie Hall, was handcuffed and hauled out of his Hell’s Kitchen apartment building early one morning in May.

The police hit him with 215 counts of harassment — one for each call.

A judge later dismissed the charges, but not before Segev spent 40 hours in a Manhattan holding cell.

So he was even charged for his FIRST call? Does that mean we can’t even dispute a charge even once?!

  1. You would indeed tend to think that the calls would only be considered “harrassment” after, I don’t know, say 10. It seems odd that the police would hit him with a charge for every call. At least the charges were dismissed, but this must suck big time.

    I mean, you get ripped off, and the company actually files criminal charges against you for complaining. He should definitely sue them, for the full cost of the ticket, plus the cost of the calls and the time spent making them, plus lawyer’s fees, plus psychological anguish or whatever it’s called for the time spent in jail. Companies should not be allowed to get away with this kind of crap.

  2. Ben Hodson says:

    I would like to complain about this entry in your blog….. HEY WAIT!! …Why are you guys here…. I think you are putting those on too tight…. Wait a sec….

  3. Pat says:

    Apparently Ronnie Segev has filed a Malicious Prosecution suit against Priceline.com

    The lawyer for Priceline.com complained to the Judge that they had to put in an automated phone system because of all of Segev’s calls.

    Yup, and some retailers wonder why they have such bad Public Relations. It only takes one gaffe like this to undo the goodwill of thousands of successful transactions.

  4. Alsatia says:

    Humm…I wonder what he actually *said* during the first complaint call. Of course I believe that we have the right to complain to a company who screws up, but the poorly paid person who answers that call also shouldn’t have to listen to someone scream, yell, curse, or threaten them. I’d like to hear the contents of that call before I’d make a judgement on whether it should be part of the fine.

  5. GregAllen says:

    Man…. this is none creepy story.

    It shows you how far-off-track a corporation can get from “the customer is always right.”

    Priceline chose to buy a whole new phone system for goodness-knows-how-much-money rather than give this guy a thousand bucks?

    And how much did the “top lawyer” charge Priceline to avoid paying a discgruntled customer &953?

    And now they have surely lost more than $953 in lost business due to bad publicity.

    Even if this is an isolated incident, it really makes me wonder if Priceline has lost its way. Good business practice means indulging the customer, even if they are wrong.

    A company can resist obvious scams but, from this story, I’m guessing Ronnie Segev really believed he was right and was not pulling a scam.

  6. RTaylor says:

    The guy could just be a bit obsessive-compulsive. This was a stupid call by the company, they’re bound to loose image. These laws were made to protect individuals from harassment. Even if no threats are implied, having someone call you repeatedly telling you have a nice day can be frightening.

  7. KB says:

    If one guy calling back again and again is enough to overwhelm Priceline’s telephone support, Priceline’s customer support must be virtually non-existent.

  8. Rick Markey says:

    While I agree that this entire episode was dumb beyond belief, this guy was wasting his time after the 3rd or 4th call. When he got no response from his first couple of attempts, his next move should have been to file a complaint with his state Attorney General’s office. They all have some type of consumer fraud department to handle this kind of stuff. No way they were going to throw an attorney from the AG’s office in the tank. You can’t push a rope!

  9. Speaking of retailers gone bad, imagine a retailer subscribing you for all sorts of online offers, debt consolidation, home and vehicle repair because of a bad review of their customer service.


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