BBB reminds consumers to do their research before taking children to open call events
Do you think your child, grandchild, niece, or nephew is an undiscovered star? Are you interested in getting them involved in show business? The Better Business Bureau is reminding consumers planning to attend open call events recently advertised on local radio stations to do their research before making any financial or contractual commitments.
The Event, which also operates under the names New York Studio, Inc. or THE (pronounced “Tay”) according to the Delaware BBB’s information, has promoted open call events to be held in Pittsburgh. During radio advertisements that BBB confirmed with a local radio station were placed by New York Studio, Inc., the company provided a toll-free telephone number to receive more information about the open call events. Consumers who called the telephone number received an automated message stating, “Thank you for calling the Audition Hotline. We’re currently experiencing a high call volume. Your call is important to us. Please leave a detailed message with your name and telephone number and a booking agent will return your call as soon as possible.”
When BBB requested information regarding the upcoming Pittsburgh event, Louise Worth of The Event, confirmed the name of the company as being The Event and responded by email that, “Families will learn about the entertainment business, The Event and audition with a guest industry professional who will be looking for kids separate of The Event.” Worth also replied that a third party call center was contracted to handle appointment setting through the toll-free telephone number listed in radio advertisements and that they do not have talent scouts. When asked where and when the Pittsburgh event is to be held, pricing details and how children are selected or qualified, Worth referred BBB to the company’s website and did not disclose the Pittsburgh event location information, stating it was a private event.
The Event also utilized radio advertising for an open call event that was held in Pittsburgh last May, after which two local consumers filed complaints with the BBB. According to a KDKA investigative story, attendees were told by The Event organizers that it was actually a family-friendly competition for the performing arts and was not an agency, casting company or management firm. Many parents were also told that participation in “The Event” could cost thousands of dollars.
Though advertised opportunities for careers in modeling, acting and the general talent industry often appear to be glamorous and promising, it is important to remember that this type of career is one of the most competitive and difficult to break into. Despite the availability of many legitimate talent agencies, beware of agents and companies that may earn income by cashing in on aspiring parents and children. Your BBB has previously issued alerts on such companies targeting consumers in our service area.
BBB offers the following tips for families interested in pursuing talent related careers for their children:
- Do your research. Investigate the company, agent or talent agency being considered prior to meeting, attending associated events or making any financial or contractual agreements. Check with the Better Business Bureau’s Business Reviews to see the company’s rating, complaints history and if any government action or advertising review has taken place. If you are dealing with an agency, contact the Pennsylvania Department of Labor to verify the firm’s license. A company is considered to be an employment agency if its purpose is to attempt to procure help, employment or engagements for persons seeking them, or provides information as to where and of whom such help, employment or engagements may be procured.
- Be wary of any requests for up-front payments. These may be provided in the form of registration, consultation or administrative fees. Legitimate companies invest in you, not vice versa. Most legitimate agents also work on a commission and do not receive money until a client is paid for doing the work they have obtained for them. Never feel pressured into leaving a check or cash deposit on the spot and beware of promises of high earnings and guaranteed employment.
- Ask questions. Before signing any contract or agreement, read it carefully and ask about the company’s refund policies and any fees required for program participation. Ask about the company’s success rate and for names of clients who have received work through the firm’s services to follow-up with them. Verify all claims made by the company. Consider it a red flag if the company dodges or refuses to answer any of your specific questions or requires you to make a hasty decision or sign-up on the spot.
- Use caution when dealing with agencies that use names similar to well-known agencies. Fraudulent companies will sometimes use this tactic to give the false impression that they are connected to a legitimate entity. Likewise, if a company is displaying images or promoting involvement with well-known models or celebrities, ask whether the company actually represents and obtains jobs for them. They may not actually be the company’s clients.
For more helpful tips and information on the talent industry, visit www.bbb.org to view Industry Tips. If you have a problem with a modeling, acting or talent agency, you can file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. Not only can filing a complaint help you obtain restitution, it can also give you the opportunity to warn others about issues they may encounter with a particular company.
BBB is an unbiased organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Businesses that earn BBB accreditation contractually agree and adhere to the organization’s high standards of ethical business behavior. BBB provides objective advice, free business BBB Reliability ReportsTM and charity BBB Wise Giving ReportsTM, and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. To further promote trust, BBB also offers complaint and dispute resolution support for consumers and businesses when there is difference in viewpoints. The first BBB was founded in 1912. Today, 116 BBBs serve communities across the U.S. and Canada, evaluating and monitoring more than 4 million local and national businesses and charities. Please visit www.bbb.org for more information about the BBB System.