Face National Models and Talent - Complaints / Advice


To Whom It May Concern:

Last summer I did promotional modeling. I didn't get paid what one model said, $15/hour, but I did get paid $70 for working about six hours.

But guess what? When that company asked me to work for them, they only knew three things about me:

1. What I looked like because I emailed them a picture
2. My phone number
3. My city

They did not ask me for a composite card or a portfolio, and they did not tell me to run out and get promotional pictures done.

Now, if Face National Models and Talent is what I assume, and I assume this company to be mainly dealing with promotional modeling, it is not necessary to have professional pictures.

Face is not making money because their models are getting print work. They are making money by traveling across the United States and finding models to pay a thousand dollars for pictures and comp cards. That's got to be their main source of income.

Well, on April 13, I went to the Holiday Inn with my mother. And what a coincidence letter writer 11 was there, Monique Alleyne. She is also pictured as print model #13 on facemodels.com.

I overheard the man working there with Monique tell a girl who questioned about Face Model's previous company name say that Face National Models and Talent changed their name because a company in France was also named Bellimisso National Models and Talent, and they had a bad reputation, and that was the reason for the change.

Should I stifle a laugh? Guess that French company must have had a REAL BAD reputation. I mean their reputation resulted in a company thousands of miles away in North Carolina changing their name. I just can't wait to find out more about this French company.

Oh, yes, I definitely have not seen any tear sheets. Speaking of Monique again, she says in her letter:

I have been with Face for a year, and I love it here. I've done some traveling, and worked well in front of and behind the scenes. I've done promotions at concerts like Snoop dog and Jane's Addiction. I've worked with Leather Bikini.

Okay, so who did she do print modeling for?

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To Whom It May Concern:

I have just visited your website and now I'm just sitting at my desk in a daze.

I have signed contracts with [name withheld] and Face National Models and Talent, and I haven't gotten any work from either.

I was contemplating signing with On Track Modeling, but now I'm leery. I have spent so much money, it is just ridiculous.

I am going to be in a spokesmodel competition on a cruise ship to the Bahamas with [...] at the end of this month, and I paid $1,000 plus other associated costs.

I really don't know what to do. I can't get any of my money back, and I feel totally used and confused.

I have good pictures and comp cards, but I haven't had any callbacks, and I signed with these agencies last year.

At lunch time I am going to go to the Face office and talk to someone, and see about getting my cards back, and find out what the hell is going on.

I was in such a good mood this morning, and now my day is ruined.

I was doing a search for On Track Modeling when I came across your website. I had no idea what information I was going to find on your site.

I feel like a sucker! I am attaching a picture; I may as well let someone see them.

I hope you have a better day than me!

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To Whom It May Concern:

I just found an article from mid-January 2002 about a woman whose son was discriminated against because he was deaf.

She brought him to a modeling audition, but he was turned away because he had a disability.

It was Face National Models and Talent who were giving the auditions.

Finally it was our turn. We walked up and the lady smiled. I mean she really looked interested, and I thought she was going to ask him to come back.
 
She started asking him all kinds of questions, like what his name was, and how old he was.
 
I told her he was deaf. Well, that stopped it right there.
 
She said: "I don't think we want deaf kids."
 
I said: "Why does it matter? His face looks the same regardless of his deafness!"
 
She said: "I just don't think any of the people we contract with want to deal or will take deaf people."
 
I tried to tell her that I was going for my interpreter certification, and that it would be no problem for me to interpret for him, but she said: "I'm sorry, next please."
 
Marcus was crying, I almost started crying for him. I didn't tell him why, I don't ever want to ruin his confidence.

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To Whom It May Concern:

I happen to model for FACE, and I just got started, but I think it's not totally a scam.

I mean I thought it was weird when they only had one photographer, and the pictures came out on slides instead of full-size pictures, yet they seem proficient.

I'm not taking any sides here until I get further information, but I think not giving out receipts at a workshop has nothing to do with it being a scam or not.

Both my Mom and my Dad were models, and my grandmom who is helping me through this was very involved as well. So I believe that if it were a total scam one of them would have noticed.

Yet, again, I think it could go either way, but, until I see more proof I'm not going to admit it is a scam.

I also think it is weird that they recommend so many cards to start with. I mean have you ever heard of Kinko's or places of that nature?

Although some people are complaining about how their pictures came out bad, I didn't have that problem, and neither did another FACE model that I know.

So I think that some people are complaining for the sake of complaining.

I hope that everything works out OK not only for me, but also for all of those people who model for FACE.

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To Whom It May Concern:

I have a response to the letter Jennifer Gill wrote regarding her agency.

She said: "During a talent search, the potential models are interviewed."

Last year I went to one of the searches, and signed a contract. However, I was never interviewed.

When I arrived, and after hearing a guy named Keri speak, he sat me down and took notes about what I looked like (in some strange code-like thing that neither I nor my friend could figure out).

I was never once "interviewed."

Also, in Gill's letter, she says that we can contact FACE through email (info@facemodels.com). However, over a month ago, I emailed the agency at this address asking for a list of references (jobs models have done with certain companies).

I haven't heard from them yet, and I am skeptical about hearing from them soon.

Not only are they not returning emails, but Gill mentioned about the agency moving "to a large downtown office in Charlotte to accommodate our growing booking team."

I have been signed with them for almost a year now, and besides never once getting me work, they never informed me of their address change.

Not only that, but the address on my composite card is not the same as the agency's current location.

Couldn't this be a problem?

I would appreciate your thoughts.

Thank you!

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I think you need to call them. See if they hang up on you.

Ask the same questions you asked by email over the phone. Then report back what they say or how they respond.

There are two phone numbers their staff recently provided with their letters: (One is the main number, another has the main number and an ext. number.)

If you sign a contract with a company after spending hundreds of dollars (in this case, for photos), you can't make it an email relationship. It has to involve in-person and/or by-phone interaction, IMO.

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To Whom It May Concern:

I've recently been "selected" for representation by Face National Models and Talent agency. Their agency has given me their contract, but I haven't signed it yet.

I don't have to pay anything (no classes, books, etc.). The only thing I have to do is get a composite card. They said it needs to be high fashion photography. I could find my own professional high fashion photographer but they recommend their own.

They are picky on what my comp card should look like, and they said if they don't like it, they will ask me to get it done again.

I have to get it done by the end of the month —and I don't know what to do. Should I sign their contract?

They are having a workshop, but it's free. The home of the agency is in North Carolina —and I live in San Diego.

What should I do? The Better Business Bureau rates this company unsatisfactory due to complaints not being fixed by time requested.

Is this "Face" company for real?

Please help me.

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It sounds like you've already almost figured it out.

There are several red flags:

* The company has an unsatisfactory rating at the BBB.

* You are in California and they are thousands of miles away in North Carolina.

* You are in California and they are thousands of miles away in North Carolina and the BBB says they don't answer complaints (in good time).

* They want a lot of money for pictures, strongly recommend their photographer, and they have a way to get you to use their photographer —even if you get another photographer to take the pictures. (They can always say "they're not good enough.")

Any one of those flags would be enough to totally avoid Face National Models and Talent. But together it is too much, and there are more complaints already received about the company, and a warning from a state authority.

Fashion modeling requires high quality and relatively expensive photos starting out. However, going by their website, it does not look as if Face National Models and Talent gets models print or high fashion work, only promotional modeling. Promotional modeling does not pay nearly as much —and for promotional modeling a snapshot can be enough.

Don't sign the contract whatever you do. Find a local modeling agency. San Diego is a large city... there must be something closer to home which has a good BBB rating, does not focus on one photographer, will not force you to spend $1,000 on pictures, does not have many recorded complaints posted online, and deals with complaints in a timely manner.

If you are still not convinced, and really want to investigate further, ask Face National to provide the references for several fashion modeling jobs they got models in San Diego in the last year. Then call those references and confirm.

It may also be worth asking your local agencies what they think of the company, as the good ones will recognize scams.

Probably the most important thing is Face National Models and Talent is nowhere near you. It is too easy for them to take your money and then you could never hear from them again.

You can't fly to their office (too expensive), and they could change their phone number, or simply hang up on you. Right?

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To Whom It May Concern:

In my local newspaper I found an article about a Villanova University student who started his own website. There is a database on there and, just out of curiosity, I searched models from Pennsylvania.

I clicked on one girl's picture, and right away I knew I had seen it before. It was the same picture that was on www.facemodels.com. It was the picture where she was in the pink shirt and pink sweater looking towards the right.

I just thought that it was funny how in her bio under "Experience" she named everything she has done, but yet forgot to list Face National Models and Talent.

I mean that same picture is on the Face National Models and Talent website, and if she is one of their "print models," why wouldn't she acknowledge them?

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To Whom It May Concern:

I was wondering if Face National Models was a scam. I've been to many open calls from modeling agencies such as New York Modeling Contract and Model Search America and I have been selected as a "call back."

Recently I went to an open call by Face National Models and Talent. I was selected as a call back and was scheduled to return later on that night. During this time a representative from Face National Models and Talent explained their contract and how they got work for their models.

The representative stressed that any model who was in contract with them could break their contract at any time and could work for other modeling agencies via sending composites to them.

The representative stated that she couldn't promise when I would get a modeling job and things like that.

After hearing all this, I felt assured that it wasn't a modeling scam, because all I was paying for was composites that I could send to other modeling agencies.

I signed the contract and paid $170. The total is $600 for the pictures but it is broken down into three payments.

I became cautious when I viewed your website and heard the various complaints against Face Models and Talent.

I also noticed that a lot of the complaints were about not getting jobs and things of that nature. I keep saying to myself, FACE never promised them a job. They just said that they would do their best to find clients who were looking for their model's features.

FACE said that it was hard work and that it was not a "sit-at-home-and-wait-for-my-agent-to-call" type of thing. The models themselves were to actively participate in the process as FACE did their thing.

As long as FACE is "actively looking" for a client who wants my "face" then that's acceptable.

I was just wondering if you think, with the aforementioned information, FACE is a legit company.

Is there anybody who is a FACE model that I can talk to about how FACE treats their models? What do professional photographers and other people in the modeling business say about the company?

I also just wanted to make it known to a lot of complainers that FACE never said that they would "get" you a modeling job. I think the potential models should understand that modeling is not guaranteed and is risky business.

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You said, "I've been to many open calls from modeling agencies such as New York Modeling Contract and Model Search America."

Model Search America is not a modeling agency. I doubt New York Modeling Contract is a modeling agency, either. They both appear to be scouting companies.

New York Modeling Contract is classified by the Better Business Bureau under "Modeling/Talent Agencies," but under the Nature of Business it says "the company offers Model Management/Scouting/Events." Model Search America has a BBB classification as "Model and Talent Consultants," not Modeling Agency, but we know they search or scout for models and talent across America and Canada.

Regarding the guarantees...

There are modeling scams which include a guarantee models will get work. There are modeling scams which do not include a guarantee models will get work. A guarantee of work is almost always a sign of a scam. But the lack of a guarantee does not mean a company is not a scam. Guarantees are not the final proof of whether a company is a scam. It is not that simple.

There are modeling companies that use a guarantee of work to scam aspiring models. There are others that appear to use "no guarantee" of work to scam aspiring models. It gives a false sense of security. They seem to think it is the ultimate disclaimer, that it will get them off the hook, that it is proof they have not scammed, will not scam, and in fact cannot scam.

Guaranteed work is an obvious scam, perhaps the most obvious scam, but there are many more types of modeling scams, many of which are less obvious, and some are subtle to the point they almost trick the trained eye.

You don't need to know anything about the modeling industry to see guaranteed work is a scam. For other types of scams, industry knowledge or awareness of scam history is critical. If you don't have both of those you may not see it. Those who don't learn from history after all are doomed to repeat it.

You seemed to suggest there are a lot of whiners when you said there were "a lot of complainers." There are complaints and then there is whining. I never got the impression anyone who wrote about their experience with Face National Models and Talent was whining.

When a business rolls into town, works up emotions, gets people to pay $1,000, leaves town, and then changes its business phone number without notice, while it is off in another state, thousands of miles away, and does not get their clients work, that is grounds for a legitimate complaint.

No agency should get paid until the model gets work. This is the law in different states. It exists to protect the models. But the news reports, BBB files, BBB leadership comments, state warnings, and online complaints all indicate Face National Models and Talent gets paid before models get work —and indeed even if models don't work.

The greatest criticism of all the different sources mentioned together is that it is a modeling photography scam. If it is, it is not a very complicated scam; in fact, it would be one of the simplest modeling scams; it is also common, so common there is a slang phrase to describe it: photo mill.

You seem to be a very trusting person. You sound as if you are giving Face National Models and Talent the benefit of the doubt: "As long as FACE is "actively looking" for a client who wants my "face" then that's acceptable."

How do you know if they will be actively looking?

Is it possible to read all the public complaints, news reports, state warnings, BBB files, and BBB leadership comments, and still give Face National the benefit of the doubt? It seems more like a leap of faith, don't you think?

Now, regarding all freedom the models have to sign with other companies or send out their composite cards, this is very easy for them to say, if their intention all along was just to get your money from modeling photos, and they are not going to find models work.

Do you see what I am saying? The mindset of the modeling photo mill is:

"Sure, go ahead, find work on your own, hook up with other agencies, don't worry about it, that's fine, because we are not expecting to get you work and in fact we won't bother trying, either. We only wanted your money for your photos. We have your money now, you have your photos; you're not getting your money back, we are keeping it; so anything from here on in is just fine with us. You may not hear from us again."

Maybe Face does not think like this. The point is they could so don't read too much into what they said and take it as proof they are not a scam.

While guaranteed work is a red flag, in the modeling industry, and elsewhere, conflict of interest is a yellow flag. It is not as bad but you have to pay close attention to research carefully. It seems as if almost everywhere there is a conflict of interest in the modeling industry, people are getting exploited.

Is there a conflict of interest with Face National Models and Talent and modeling photos? There should be a clear separation between agency and photography, but the reports, warnings, and complaints all say there is no separation.

A modeling agency in Florida, Boom Talent and Modeling Agency, owned by Di Paulson, was in the news a few years ago, receiving the same type of criticism as Face National:

Critics also say Paulson is circumventing a state law that forbids modeling agencies from charging upfront fees. Modeling agencies are not supposed to charge models for anything, including photos, seminars or consultation. An agent's income is supposed to come solely from commissions it gets by finding work for its models.

It would be interesting to know two things, if:

1. Face National Models and Talent makes more money from modeling photos than it does from modeling jobs.
 
2. Face National Models and Talent models make less money from modeling jobs than they spent on modeling photos.

A few years ago, the Federal Trade Commission prosecuted a modeling agency which falsely claimed it made more money from modeling/acting jobs than it did through modeling/acting classes. The agency lost and went under.

Stop and look at the numbers. If an agency charges 1,000 people $1,000, in this case for photos, what is the revenue? $1,000,000! That kind of money can obviously tempt people to start and continue modeling photography scams.

If Face National were to visit 72 cities across America each year and recruit on average 150 people in each city, that is 10,800 recruits.

If each recruit pays $1,000 for photos, total revenue in one year alone from the photos alone is $10,800,000.

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"Modeling scams are big business." —Carl Messineo, attorney with the Partnership for Civil Justice, co-chair of the Consumer Affairs Committee of the Washington, D.C., Bar Section on Antitrust, Trade Regulation and Consumer Affairs


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