OTM (On Track Modeling)
aka AMG (Alpha Model Group)
Scam Complaints


To Whom It May Concern:

My daughter signed with OTM one year ago in October.

We spent a total $1,000 on photographs and the cards that were supposed to be sent to the agencies by OTM. We paid for 1,000 cards but only received 500 of them.

We did the photo shoot, the training session, and four trips of 2 ½ hours travel time per trip.

OTM has not communicated with us since January 2002.

I am convinced that they just travel around promoting this fantastic business and success story crap and collect innocent people's money.

The Joey representative that got to us even said the agency was listed with the Better Business Bureau and asked us to check him out.

I would like to know how we can get our money back, or our picture cards back from the slea*y people.


You have to deal with the Better Business Bureau if OTM refuses to talk to you. OTM values the BBB rating and takes the BBB seriously. They use their BBB rating in marketing, and if it ever gets really bad, they will be in trouble.

To keep that rating, which is far from perfect, but it is "satisfactory," OTM must respond to all complaints made to the BBB quickly. If they fail to respond to the BBB, as they have failed to respond to their customers, the BBB will turn on them and revoke their "satisfactory" status.

The odd thing is the BBB says for a business to be a member, there cannot be a pattern of complaints against the company. There is a pattern of complaints against OTM, however, in the letters to Modeling Scams; in fact, there are several patterns, as noted on the website.

So you really need to complain to the BBB. The BBB record even says OTM is committed to using an impartial arbitrator to deal with any disputes and complaints against them if necessary.

Please write again to say if you have any luck with the BBB.

The President of the BBB in Charlotte, North Carolina, where OTM is based, is Tom Bartholomy.

Better Business Bureau Serving Southern Piedmont Carolinas
5200 Park Road Suite 202
Charlotte NC 28209-3650

Hours of Operation
8:30 am - 4:30 pm

Phone: (704) 527-0012
24 hours Operators Available

9 am - 3 pm

Fax: (704) 525-7624

http://www.charlotte.bbb.org

The BBB record for OTM in Charlotte (check for latest):

BBB Reliability Report On Track Modeling, Inc.
5500 Executive Center Dr. Ste. 126
Charlotte, NC
 
Email Address: OTMINC@CAROLINA.RR.COM
 
BBB Membership
This company has been a member of this Better Business Bureau since February 1995. This means it supports the Bureau's services to the public and meets our membership standards.
 
Program Participation
This company participates in the BBB ADvantage program. This means it has agreed to use special complaint handling procedures including mediation and arbitration, if necessary and within limits, to resolve disputes.
 
Customer Experience Based on BBB files
This company has a satisfactory record with the Bureau. Any complaints processed by the Bureau in its three-year reporting period have been resolved.
 
The number and type of complaints are not unusual for a company in this industry.
 
To have a Satisfactory Record with the Bureau, a company must be in business for at least 12 months, properly and promptly address matters referred to it by the Bureau, and be free from an unusual volume or pattern of complaints and law enforcement action involving its marketplace conduct.
 
In addition, the Bureau must have a clear understanding of the company's business and no concerns about its industry.
 
The following data concerns complaints processed by the BBB since the firm's file was opened or over the last 36 months, whichever is less.
 
On Track Modeling, Inc. has had 44 complaints.
11 were closed as Resolved.
24 were closed as Assumed Resolved.
9 were closed as Reasonably Explained to the Bureau's Satisfaction.
 
The company's size, volume of business, and number of transactions may have a bearing on the number of complaints received by the BBB.
 
The complaints filed against a company may not be as important as the type of complaints, and how the company handled them.
 
Company Management
Principal: Mr. Robert D. Ecksmith, President
Additional company management personnel include:
Ms. Angela Harper
Ms. Cynthia Simpson - Sec/Treas
Mr. Don Buckalew - Manager

Redacted Info


To Whom It May Concern:

OTM was in Toledo, Ohio, this weekend.

About 375 potential models attended with about 75 (?) being picked to work with the company. My daughter was one of the "chosen."

I was then informed by a friend of "scams" that have been associated with OTM.

I really liked what I saw at this meeting, and the fact they insist on the school-aged models fax their report cards every quarter, maintaining a B average to work.

I also was impressed that they do not expect any upfront money to be paid for anything.

Yes, comp cards are required, but that is a given in this business.

And they do not require you to use any particular photographer.

Any information you can give will be helpful.

Thank you,

redacted


You said: "I also was impressed that they do not expect any upfront money to be paid for anything."

No reason to be impressed. It's illegal to require upfront fees in several states.

Then you said: "Yes, comp cards are required, but that is a given in this business."

Have you read the complaints about OTM? It means nothing if they "do not expect any upfront money," because they make money from photos. That is the upfront money. None of the reputable companies do this. If OTM gets money from photos, and their president already said they do, they don't need to get models work.

The federal government already prosecuted a company which took money for comp cards because "that is a given in this business," so you can't take as a given the fact that a modeling company wants comp cards as a sure sign it is legit.

You said: "And they do not require you to use any particular photographer."

That may have been what you were told, but the pattern of complaints was they manipulated people to use their photographer. They don't have to require the use of their photographer, or say they require the use of their photographer to get people to use their photographer.

It is easy enough to manipulate consumers without experience and worried about missing an opportunity to use a photographer, and they can always veto any photography by someone else, arbitrarily saying it's not good enough.

The other thing is reputable modeling agencies can and do require the payment for photography and comp cards after the models get work or only require half the cost up front.

Ask OTM to do this. If they are serious or competent in their scouting, and sincerely believe your daughter will get work modeling, why would they have a problem with this when reputable and successful agencies do not?

Here you have a company with a conflict of interest which is supposedly competent that wants you be a partner in business but you don't know them and it wants you to assume all the financial risks.

You should also know that it is possible to avoid altogether the upfront fees for photography (at OTM it is reportedly $600) if you do TFP (Time for Print). This is where a photographer does not charge for his or her work, instead trading it with the new model for practice and pictures that can be used for his or her portfolio.

The ratio of selection you mentioned (75/375) is extremely and suspiciously high. Reputable agencies like the top agencies in NY said they select about 1/1,000. High ratios are common with companies making money off upfront fees (photography and comp cards are upfront fees). Fast bulk recruiting is not standard for the modeling industry, but it is standard for upfront-fee firms.

They can say all they want about report cards etc., to put the parents at ease, or to impress them, but it's irrelevant if they abandon them after the check clears at the bank.

This company travels around and takes money and then abandons their models, the complaints said. Those few who wrote who said they got work said it paid very little and they were paid very late.

You have seen the promotion of the company to parents and potential models. Have you also seen the promotion of OTM to their potential business clients? Do you know what level and type of "modeling" they do?

OTM says it is "Promotional." They do "sports marketing, college marketing, tradeshows, conventions, character modeling, events, in-store sampling." One girl represented by OTM who wrote said she signed up people for credit cards.

Is this the type of work your daughter wants? Promotional work will not likely require her to be photographed (no photos necessary to sign people up for credit cards, for example), so it would not get her tear sheets she could use to get real modeling jobs.

Does OTM have an office in Toledo or Ohio? Aren't there any reputable modeling agencies in your area? Is OTM the only option? Is it the best option? Should it be your first choice?

It seems to be illegal in certain states to advertise for model/talent type of work, as in scouting, unless there a company has asked for models or talent. The basic idea is it is a bogus job advertisement. Like advertisements for jobs which do not exist. So what companies have asked for models in Toledo? Do the jobs exist?

Redacted Info


To Whom It May Concern:

About two years ago, I went to the Hilton in Greenville, North Carolina, to a model search. I was picked to be a model for OTM Modeling, a company out of Charlotte.

I paid for my portfolio and my pictures (which were really expensive), and have not heard from them since. I have called and left messages, but no one will return my calls! Ain't that a crock!

redacted


Full Disclosure

Unlike most modeling agencies, OTM Charlotte's president has admitted in a published news report they make money off modeling photos, even if they do not get models work. Most all the work OTM gets its models is "promotional," not fashion, not commercial, not editorial, and not high fashion. Promotional is the lowest (earnings).


There are over 25 letters about OTM. These letters were under review because there are apparently two OTMs, an OTM in Charlotte, North Carolina, and an OTM in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

OTM Charlotte is also called "On Track Modeling." OTM Philadelphia is also called "OTM Model Management." Letters were sent about both but it is not clear if they are related.

The Agency may be related to OTM Charlotte because the mailing address shows they are located in the same building.

Redacted Info


The OTM in North Carolina and in Philadelphia are by the same people. They also have another office in some town. I will pull out the OTM crap and find out where it is. I just wanted to clear up the confusion.

Ex- OTM model that never worked,

redacted


There are different "OTM" owners. At least the BBB records show there are two owners, one in NC, and one in PA. The BBB record for "OTM" in PA has no complaints. Is it a different business model? Or does OTM Philadelphia also make money off modeling photos? An OTM photographer pointed out her photography rate was $350/model; the makeup artist was paid $150 (!)/model; for a total of $500; but OTM Charlotte apparently charges models $599. So they make $99/model. They mark up the price by 20%! And that's just for the photography. The models then pay another $400 for comp cards. How much of that goes to OTM Charlotte? Comp cards can cost $1/card. If models get 100 cards, then it should only cost $100 extra. How much did you pay for comp cards and how many did you get? The OTM Charlotte director already confessed to the press he makes money from photos, so the only question now is how much? The other question for you is did OTM Charlotte tell you they make money off photos when you signed up? Was there full disclosure?!

Redacted Info


The price for just 50 cards is $199.99 with tax. The prices went from there. The cards get cheaper the more you buy.

redacted


That makes sense. After spending $600 on photography, most people are not going to start with just 50 comp cards, more like 100+, and most models reported they paid $400. Someone also said OTM kept 50 to send out, and they took 50 to send out or give out themselves. Who was the printer who did their comp cards? What is the printer's website address? You can find out how much it really costs, and then compare the price OTM Charlotte charges with the cost the printer charges for printing, to see if they mark up the price.

Redacted Info


To Whom It May Concern:

This company is a joke. We spent hundreds of dollars on a photo shoot and comp cards for our own advertisement. We have used them, but they are laughed off.

These people tried to encourage ME to be a part of their scam. I wanted to believe so badly that these people were for real.

The individual that showed up to take care of hair, makeup and wardrobe was RIDICULOUS! Using cheap makeup and her taste in clothes was unreal.

My daughter was contacted twice for work in our city. These jobs required an 18 year old. My daughter was underage. She can pass as an 18 year old, but the work that they were doing was passing out CEREAL, for crying out loud!

I told them I was not at all happy about them being deceitful to their client and having my daughter lie. The individual heading up the booking stated that it happens all the time, and if she wants work, then she will do it.

She worked several hours over 2.5 days and waited months for her pay. We did another job in June and have YET to be paid!

I have contacted this company on several occasions with no response. On top of that, my daughter's picture is not on their website as promised.

WHAT IS UP WITH THESE PEOPLE???????

redacted


At your suggestion I reported this issue with OTM to the Charlotte, NC BBB, as well as wrote to the BIG GUY at OTM. Well, GUESS WHO CALLED ME TODAY?????

Yup, OTM booking agent. She states that there must be a mistake. She will get it rectified tomorrow!!! HAHAHAHA! Well we will just see how quick they come through. Thanks again!! I will update you as soon as there is resolution.

redacted


This is a letter written to the BBB Charlotte, NC, and the president of OTM. I wonder what my options are now? I reported OTM to the Attorney General, too.

I wrote:

I have not received a reply from you yet concerning payment to my daughter, XXXX, for a job performed on behalf of OTM back in June. However, I did receive a call from Melissa Touche.
 
Ms. Touche indicating that a check in the amount of $120.00 was sent to XXXX on 09/30/02. We have moved from that address. However, we had access to the home and were picking up our mail there and have NOT received that check.
 
Ms. Touche indicated that the check has not been returned to the OTM offices. I contacted our post office and they do not have anything on file for my daughter. All mail has been forwarded to our new address: XXXX since October! Ms. Touche ALSO indicated that if we should have to pay OTM $30.00 for a stop pay and reissue!
 
Excuse me but that is outrageous. If in fact your company did send my daughter a check for her work, it took 3.5 months to pay her. That is over and above the 6 weeks your company claims to need for payment for work rendered. For your company to ask us to pay for your stop pay fee is utterly and positively ridiculous.
 
I would very much appreciate it if you yourself could contact me in reference to this situtation either buy phone or email as quickly as possible. We have waited long enough for payment.

redacted


To Whom It May Concern:

I have read many of the complaints that you have received about OTM over the last couple of years, and I am shocked at what some of these people are saying.

I signed with OTM in May of 2002. I am with the offices in Philadelphia and Charlotte.

I don't know about the offices in Charlotte, because I don't really deal with them considering I am closer to Philadelphia.

In one complaint from a girl from TX, she said that the people she has dealt with were the most unprofessional people she has ever dealt with.

My experience with this agency has been very much the opposite. The photographers used for my photo shoot were very professional as well as friendly and entertaining.

I had a great time having my pictures done and when they came back they were awesome. I have had so many people tell me that they almost couldn't believe it was me. Which I think is the best thing in the world.

I understand that some of these people have had problems with other branches of this company, but I don't think it is fair to label them all "cowards" or "liars" because this is very much not the case for me.

Yes, maybe I haven't received a job yet, but it's just been a couple weeks since I have received my comp cards.

I am very satisfied on how professional this branch or office of OTM has handled my business. Not to mention they do their best to keep me informed on what is going on with my contract and/or business.

I find the things these other models have experienced should not put such a bad reputation on the whole company.

I personally have recommended at least five girls to OTM and they are very pleased with their business, too. I hope these girls find the jobs they are looking for and get their big break.

But until then hold your heads up high and be careful not to send false information about somebody unless you have experienced the whole situation from every point of view.

Thank you for taking the time to read my opinion of what I think OTM is or isn't about.

Sincerely,

redacted

14, OTM Philadelphia


Your point is taken. There is now a notice of the fact there are two offices and two managers.

You said: "I don't think it is fair to label them all "cowards" or "liars."

Who said they are all cowards or liars?

You suggested people "be careful not to send false information about somebody unless you have experienced the whole situation from every point of view."

Have you experienced OTM from every point of view? Don't you think you should wait until you get work and enough work to pay for your comp cards before you refer at least five girls to OTM?

Nice pictures are great but the agency is an agency, not a photo studio. Or at least it should be more than a photo studio. It should be an employment agency, making all its income from commissions, nothing from photos.

The head of OTM Charlotte said he makes money from photos. Does the head of OTM Philadelphia also make money from photos? How much did you pay? Who did you pay? The photographer or OTM?

You want to know why OTM Charlotte takes money for photos when others don't? Because the best jobs they get are the worst jobs out there. They pay the least. Only $15/hr. That may sound like a lot, but you may only work a few hours.

The OTM Charlotte president claimed 80% of their members (models) get work. That number was not independently checked or audited, but in any case, so what?

It's an irrelevant statistic. If 80% were to work for three hours in one year they would only earn $45. And if you only earn $45, you are still in the OTM hole, about $950 back of what you paid.

So, the questions to ask OTM Philadelphia, to see if they are any different from OTM Charlotte are:

1. Do you make any money from photos or comp cards?

2. What percentage of the models you represent get work?

3. What percentage of these models earned more than they paid for comp cards?

Ask them those questions and if you get a straight answer, write again.

Redacted Info


To Whom It May Concern:

I am 14 years old and I've been looking into modeling/acting. Well, actually with acting I'm gonna make it, I know that, but I need help getting there.

Ok, first I went to an open call for "OTM."

Let me tell you they couldn't have made bigger fools of themselves. They picked just about everyone who auditioned!

Then the call back was quite a show. They talked about not scamming people and about other bull.

After that they hand out a paper that says how much money you have to pay and it's a lot!

Overall it's a big ——, and I was so mad that when I was called back to sign a contract I was going to write: "Go ——yourselves" on the line where I had to sign my name, but I didn't because I would have created a scene.

And right now I'm looking into John Robert Powers acting school. I'm not so sure if this is a scam or not because I know of some people who made it on Disney that worked with them.

So I need your help on JRP, and I need help finding really good modeling/acting agencies and schools in PA area.

Thank you so much,

Redacted Info

"Dreams are always taller than us... so we can reach to get them."


There are letters about John Robert Powers which you might want to read. JRP is franchised. This means some franchises are better than others, because they have different teachers, different leaders, etc.

Compare the JRP prices with other schools. You could check with your local SAG rep to find out your options. SAG may recommend or at least tell you how you can get a list of alternate schools, so you can find out if JRP is very expensive.

SAG Philadelphia
230 South Broad Street, 10th floor
Philadelphia, PA 19102
Tel. (215) 545-3150
Fax (215) 732-0086
Executive Director: John Kailin
National Board Member: Si Picker

http://www.sag.org/

You said: "I need help finding really good modeling/acting agencies and schools in PA area."

To find the really good modeling agencies, read How to find a reputable modeling agency.

Redacted Info


To Whom It May Concern:

This is in reference to the OTM-North Carolina branch.

I took my teenage daughter to a model search in Pensacola, FL. We sat through the hour-long gab session they give and called back the next day.

My daughter was "chosen" and we went back to the hotel that night. I must say I was really surprised at the other people that were chosen. Some had extremely bad pimples on their faces, one looked like a crack whore, and another you couldn't tell what it was.

This threw up the first red flag because of the so-called "chosen few." The next red flag came at the workshop when the lady hosting it had a sweater on that had a hole in it and a run.

Now this lady was saying that she made a lot of money by making the models money. You would think she could afford decent clothing.

Another thing was that she went on and on about how she worked as a model and you had to have good teeth and hair.

Well, her teeth were as crooked as Lombard Street in San Francisco and lots of grays and split ends! The story she was giving just did not match up.

And, yes, they do say that you don't have to use their photographer, but if the comp cards you send in don't meet their standards, you have to redo them.

Also, I looked closely at the comp cards they said were from their photographer, and I was not impressed. The pics looked like someone was in a backyard with a throw-away camera! 

Good luck to y'all because we are opting out.

Note: the other location for OTM is supposed to be in South Florida.

Sincerely,

redacted


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