• Report: #798284

Complaint Review: Saratoga Mystique

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  • Submitted: Tue, November 15, 2011
  • Updated: Tue, February 26, 2013

  • Reported By: Another Victim — Ossining New York United States of America
Saratoga Mystique
516 Broadway Saratoga Springs, New York United States of America

Saratoga Mystique Mike Prisco Stolen Piano Saratoga Springs, New York

*REBUTTAL Individual responds: Mike Prisco Piano Rebuilder

*Author of original report: Update by Author

*Consumer Suggestion: Something Should be Done

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I paid Mike Prisco to transport an antique piano from Westchester County to his store in Saratoga Springs. We had a contract with him to sell our piano on consignment. We heard nothing from him for more than a year. We called and emailed him repeatedly. When we finally reached him, he informed us that our piano had been sold for substantially more than the target price. But he said that he had had to do substantial work to prep the piano for sale, and therefore, could only offer us less than half of what we were promised in the contract. We asked him for proof of sale and documentation for the work he'd performed. More than a year later, he still hasn't complied. My last contact with him was a rambling late-night phone conversation which suggested to me the man is an out-and-out con man, a complete psychopath, or both. I'd like to give you details -- all the ranting about his reputation and integrity and all his wealthy clients who are 100% satisfied, plus priceless absurdities like the fact he claims to record all his phone conversations and is an expert in contract law, but it's all too tiresome to recount. Now that we're pursuing legal action against him, I discover he has apparently had a distinguished career as home-improvement rip-off artist before moving on to piano theft. Don't do business with him. You've been warned. 

This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 11/15/2011 12:33 PM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Saratoga-Mystique/Saratoga-Springs-New-York-12866/Saratoga-Mystique-Mike-Prisco-Stolen-Piano-Saratoga-Springs-New-York-798284. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.

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REBUTTALS & REPLIES:
1Author 1Consumer 1Employee/Owner
Updates & Rebuttals

#1 REBUTTAL Individual responds

Mike Prisco Piano Rebuilder

AUTHOR: yourcaught - (United States of America)

I want everyone to know the name of the individual who wrote this report, his name is Bil Kurth and his wife is Hala Makowska from Westchester NY.

Everything they say in this post is false! They are the worst customers I have had in a long time. Somehow I seem to attract some undesirable customers due in part to my desire to make everyone happy including those clients like Kurth and Makowska who only seek to destroy someone who has done the best they possibly can and then invents things when you cant help them anymore that never happened. 

Shortly after the court case I discovered that Bill Kurth and his wife Hala Makowska had written things about me online. I was disapointed that they would do this however I was not supprised.

When I failed to respond to the negative posts they made all over the internet including their posts under fictitious names, I received an email from them posted below. 

Fuck youWednesday, August 29, 2012 5:41 PMFrom:"Bill Kurth" <bkurth@mac.com>Add sender to ContactsTo:"saratogamystique@yahoo.com" <saratogamystique@yahoo.com>, "info@saratogapianos.com" <info@saratogapianos.com>, "info@saratogamystique.com" <info@saratogamystique.com>, "bankingit@yahoo.com" <bankingit@yahoo.com>Hi, Mike.

I thought I might hear from you after I posted an update to my original Ripoff Report that made you so crazy. (It's not a retraction.) When I saw you'd taken your slimy video of Lila Ainsworth private after reposting it in June, I thought perhaps you'd given up trying to defend your bullshit piano reputation. But then you ignored our lawyer, refusing to sign the agreement ending our lawsuit. So I felt you needed an update. Sorry Mikey, but your threats haven't deterred me. I've made two videos about you: "Grand Theft Piano" (posted last November), about our case against you, and "Mike and Maggie: American Grifters" (posted in May), about your life of crime with your skanky, illiterate wife. Both are 100% factual and they put your bullshit, unwatchable H&R Block video to shame. My videos are unlisted, and as you must surely know, that means you can't anything to stop me from showing them to anyone I like. I'm free to say anything I choose about you to anyone I like. There's nothing you can do about it, and I'm good with that. Evan Tublitz, Rand Reeves, Erich Borden, John Ford and many others have all had a good laugh at your expense. It's a damn shame you'll never see them. You might learn something, you asshole.

Bill Kurth

Today I am bringing this information to the public because everyone should know what type of people Bill Kurth and Hala Makowska really are.

I did not rip them off! 

Hala Makowska contacted me 5 years ago to trade out her non working Chickering piano for something much smaller and asked if I could sell it for her or create some kind of deal for her. Nothing came of it although I did spend several hours on the phone with her knowing she was in need of someone to talk to about her piano needs. 

several years later I was contacted again and spent hours talking with Hala Makowska about this piano that had not been tuned or played and was in non working non playing order.

She asked if I could sell it on consignment and conveyed to me that if we could not sell it, she did not want it back in her house as it took up to much room and was not in playing condition. 

I explained to Hala Makowska that I would come down and pick up the piano and offered to do a little work on it to get it in good playing condition and then settled on a price she thought it was worth prior to any repairs.

I sent Hala a contract that she agreed to sign when we picked up the piano.

Upon my arival to the residence of Hala Makowska I was shocked to see that this piano was in real bad shape mechaniclally. Although it was a nice looking piece of furniture it was not a playing instrument and needed lots of work.

Not one key worked and the piano was frozen up and many of the Ivory keys were missing and had broken off. 

Hala Makowska said she would be at the house and she was not however, her husband Bill Kurth was. After my employee and I inspected the piano we spoke to Bill Kurth and told him that the piano was in worse condition then we thought based upon the description Hala had given us prior to a 150 mile trip to move the piano to our showroom. 

I explained to bill that the dollar figure we had agreed upon was not possible and we would have to talk about that and he insisted that we take the piano and talk with his wife over it! He stated that the piano had not been played in many years and had not received a tuning in many years as well.

He said that it was an eye sore in the room and made it impossible to do decorate around. Bill Kurth told me to talk about the value with his wife, she is the one responsible for this piano and not him, he wanted nothing to do with it and just wanted it out of the house!

I had him sign for the piano on the contract and told him I  would talk with his wife at another time to discuss the price and value and the amount of work I would have to do to make this instrument play.

When I spoke to Hala Makowska next about the piano she told me that they were very wealthy people and she wanted to see the piano go to a good home if it went unsellable. I told Hala I would do my best to sell it however, it needed a ton of work to make it play again.

Hala Makowska told me that if the piano could not sell for 20k then if we knew of someone who would care for it she would not mind donating it.

I deal with allot of generous people that donate steinway pianos to charity and other pianos as well. 

After the piano sat for over a year unsold in my million dollar showroom of vintage and new pianos, i contacted Hala and Bill to have them arrange for the piano to be picked up. I received no answere and after several attempts I put the piano on the abandoned piano list. Many people send me their pianos to sell that need thousands of dollars of work and want me to sell them. 

To make a long story short, the economy tanked and we were forced to close our store. I contacted Hala again to no avail. 

I had a customer that was a real hardship case and wanted a piano real bad, she had very limited funds and was a sweet soul. I told her about this rich couple who entrusted that I find a good home for this piano and because I was closing the store I needed to get rid of it and they had not contacted me back.

I told the customer that I would give her the piano so long as she was willing to return it if the client came out of the woodwork at some point however I told her it would be highly unlikely that would happen as the owner told me she never wanted it back in her house.

I thought I was doing the good thing, I thought I would place this piano in the care of someone that would cherrish it for the rest of her life and in the process it would not end up in a landfill because i had to get rid of it.

A year after closing my store I get a phone call from Bill Kurth asking what became of his piano and not remembering who he was because we have hundreds of clients I told him it was sold or given away. He asked me how much we sold it for and I shot a number out of my mouth by mistake and he hit the roof.

I had done everything to contact these people and now not remembering who they were I was trying to ease their minds while driving and made a mistake thinking it was someone else. A true mistake was turned into a nightmare and Bill Kurth and Hala Makowska wanted money and wanted it yesterday!!!!!

I tried to expain in subsiquent conversations with Bill Kurth that I was mistaken when I spoke to him about the piano while I was driving however he only wanted to hold my words against me as though I was stealing his money and piano.

After the conversations became so vile with rantings and cursings from Bill Kurth he contaced a lawyer and took me to court. I explained to the court exactly what I have said here in this post and the judge asked if we had access to the piano. 

I told the judge I would contact the person and get his piano back as that was the agreement I made before relinquishing the instrument.

Bill Kurth wanted to know the name of the person who had the piano and I refused to give it because of his cursing behavior with me on the phone many times. I did not want him doing the same to this poor woman who had suffered many tragidies in her life already, she did not need a ranting client emotionally abusing her and verbally abusing her over a piano.

I told the judge that I would get the piano and bring it to my shop at my residence and go through it and make sure it was returned in good playing condition. Bill Kurth asked if he could come to my house and inspect the piano and I said he was not welcome at my house after all he and his wife had put me through when all i tried to do was help them.

I offered to have the piano inspected at our shop located at my residence by a piano technician however they agreed and then backed out of that deal.

I offered to have the piano transported to a climate controlled storage locker for them to inspect it and for them to arrange transportation to their home. 

I did exactly that, I went through the piano with a fine tooth comb and delivered the piano at my expense to a storage locker that was climate controlled and forwarded the keys to the judge with video and photos proving its location and playing condition.

I thought that once they seen the piano in playing good playing condition they would understand the value of the situation was in their favor but that was furthest from the truth. Their lawyer tried to make this a financial harvest and played the legal eagle with us and tried to get more then her client deserved and then it got a little ugly.

I pulled up a video of the piano on my cell phone to prove to the judge that the piano existed and that it was indeed the piano they were taking me to court over and the judge did respond in a very negitave way.

The judge looked at me and said are you crazy? are you crazy he said again. I was representing myself at the hearing and was not aware that he was not alowed to see the photo of the instrument because he was not prepared to take anything into evidence. I assume this is a court rule or law of some kind and I said I was sorry, I was unaware that he was not to look at any photos in the case.

None the less, the piano was returned and Bill and Hala Makowska did take custody of the piano and I thought that this was fianlly over.

I was mistaken.

They proclaimed that this was their prize piano and that it would be returning to their home and that was also a lie. The piano was taken to another piano store who I happened to know the owner of. 

I went online and checked my email and realized that Bill Kurth sent me a real bad email and was also posting things online about me and my wife.

I was shocked that Bill Kurth and his wife Hala Makowska would do such a thing. 

I am posting this becuase I want to set the record striaght and let anyone who reads about this business transaction that I did my best for them. In return I get trampled on and lied about and talked about and the threats just keep coming from these two clients I wish I never had.

I am not scared to say that these people are out of their minds! Bill Kurth I find out later has done this to several business in the New York Metro area and so has his wife Hala. They are the type of people that I call internet terroristis.

Now Bill Kurth and Hala Makowska are terrorizing my children who have the same name as I, causing them to hear from their peers that their father is a scam artist and thief.

My heart breaks for my children who know nothing about this and have had to suffer at the hands of Bill and Hala. 

Please forgive me if you the consumer or reader feel I have done something wrong by replying however I cant sit by and allow them to attack me and my family without any response.

Although they have tried to terrorize me online and destroy my name and business while not telling you the reader who they are, I will.

Bill Kurth is a liar and thief of services and is a con-artist consumer along with his wife Hala Makowska who have both indulged in this type of internet terror against me and my family and in so doing, I have made this response.

Shame on you Bill Kurth. Shame on You Hala Makowska! you should both be ashamed of yourself. You have destroyed my company name and my family name and have done so with malice to hurt anyone in my family you can. You both are the worst type of consumer a company or business can have as a client.

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#2 Author of original report

Update by Author

AUTHOR: Another Victim - (USA)

My wife and I sued Saratoga Mystique for breach of contract the Saratoga County Supreme Court in December, 2011. Priscos written answer to our complaint was a total fabrication -- bald-faced lies from top to bottom. He acted as his own lawyer and repeated his lies on the record in three pre-trial hearings. He falsely claimed our piano was unplayable when he picked it up in October, 2009. He said hed misspoken in January, 2011, when he told us hed sold it for $27,000. He falsely claimed that wed given him verbal authorization to give our piano away if he couldnt find a buyer, and said he had numerous telephone recordings of conversations with my wife to prove it. But instead of producing those recordings (which of course he couldnt), he produced a one-minute edited excerpt of two calls he had with me, which proved only that he does in fact secretly record his phone calls. He first told the court that our piano had been sold to an unnamed person for $3,500, then that it had been given to a family in Rochester, and finally that it was at his home in Gansevoort, NY.

Prisco had appeared before the judge in this case twice before (in Aames Capital vs. Prisco, 2002, and Hayes, Sloan vs. Prisco, 2008), and it was clear to me the judge didnt believe a word Prisco was saying. But it was also clear he considered this case to be trivial. He didnt want it to go to trial, and it didnt. After four months of delaying the legal process by every means possible, Prisco finally offered to return our piano. But because he had never given us a believable story about where it had been after he closed his store in September, 2010, we asked to have the piano inspected before we accepted it, and asked for a current picture to prove he had it before we hired the inspector. Prisco provided a two-year-old picture which proved exactly nothing. We were convinced he didnt have the piano, but we should have known better. Mike Prisco is a veteran of dozens of cases just like this one, and he was two steps ahead of us throughout this process. Shortly before our last scheduled court conference, he sent the judge keys to a storage locker where hed stashed our piano. He was very pleased with himself, but the judge literally screamed at him, Are you crazy? Are you crazy? Only a crazy person would do something like this! 

So we ultimately got our piano back, in somewhat worse condition than we remember it, at a cost of about $7,000 in legal fees, countless hours of nonsense and three day-trips to Saratoga County. Mike, on the other hand, was out about $100 for the storage locker. We won and he lost, but were betting hes not too broken up about it. Hes been sued more than 20 times in the last 14 years and it hasnt slowed him down one bit. Most of his victims dont sue. The Saratoga District Attorney declines to bring criminal charges against him. Perjury? Intimidation and physical threats? All perfectly okay -- for him. For reasons I will never understand, Mike Prisco gets away with behaving like a thug who is above the law, and the only thing decent people can do about it is avoid him and his wife Maggie (Magdalena) at all costs.
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#3 Consumer Suggestion

Something Should be Done

AUTHOR: slake - (United States of America)

I am just wondering how these two people keep getting away with all the things that have been done to numerous customers. They are constantly posting about their customers and others on many different sites. The rebuttals and complaints about people are all strangely familiar.The use of the word wicked is a trend and they tend to misuse words and misspell which shows that all the various posts are the same author.
Arent these issues actually larcenies that Mike and Maggie are constantly committing? Tens of thousands of dollars in money exchanged and merchandise never shipped or completed. Why are police not notified or aware?
How can they continue to spew insults about the people they steal from and rip off and they have about 10 different businesses all operating and advertised on the internet?
Wake up people someone do something.
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