Manhattan Model Search
Review / Complaints
To Whom It May Concern:
I recently attended a model search in Weirton, WV, with
my two children, who were both chosen to go to Buffalo,
NY, for the regional Manhattan Model Search.
I was surprised at how many people were chosen. I would
estimate every other person there was chosen. You walked
in front of the "scout" for a split second,
and he told you to either stay or leave.
I did not feel that it was an honor to be chosen, because
so many others were. Not all looked like model material,
Afterwards, I overheard one of the parents talking to
the scout whom she knew about two teenagers who would
love to attend the regional, but were unable to be at
the open call today.
The scout just handed her two more brochures and registration
papers and told her to have them come to the regionals.
He had no clue what they looked like!
Also, he told us that it would cost $450 to go to the
regionals. No other hidden cost. But when I emailed the
company asking about other expenses, they stated you
would have additional fees to pay with the agency that
you went with, such as a portfolio.
I can't imagine a big company like Ford (which is supposed
to be there) would ask a potential model to pay for a
portfolio. Would they not be spending the money on the
model to "sell" her so that they in exchange
would be making a percentage of the profit?
If you sent your pictures to the agency (such as
Ford) and bypassed this possible scam, do you think
they view all pictures sent to them?
Ford would not ask you to spend money on a professional
portfolio before you are signed. Some of these model
searches or conventions set it up where those who were
scouted are paraded and submit their photos to the agents
in person. You are supposed to submit your photos to
the agents by mail.
From the Ford website:
- The only way to proceed is by sending your pictures
- Ford Models
142 Greene Street
New York, NY 10012
- The pictures should capture your natural look without
makeup. Please send one full-length shot and one face
shot. We also need your age, height, measurements and
contact information (name, address, telephone number,
etc.). Please note that photos sent will not be returned
unless you include with your pictures a self-addressed
stamped envelope. Pictures with a self-addressed stamped
envelope take anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks to be returned.
Note they only asked for two pictures, not a portfolio.
Once the new model is signed with a top agency, then
they need professional photos, not before. "Marketing" your
kids to an agency only requires two pictures. Marketing
to the agency's clients requires comp cards and/or a
portfolio. Basically, you provide what is needed. The
clients' needs are different from the agency's needs.
The other issue here is if a model gets a portfolio
before being signed, it could be tossed after being signed.
The agency knows what looks are in because they work
directly with clients; therefore, they need to be involved
in the making of the portfolio for the model they will
As far as whether or not the agency will review the
photos, why not? Most aspiring models are likely to send
their pictures to several agencies. If they don't review
the pictures, they could lose the next supermodel to
the agency which did check its mail. Often contracts
are exclusive so there is competition. Ford et al make
money off models but it costs them nothing to review
Last year the President of Next in NY said they review
1,000-2,000 pictures of new faces once a week every week.
I agree that the photos should be reviewed by the top
agencies instead of attending these regional searches. I
don't understand why such reputable agencies even go
to these regional searches.
I also wanted to add that on the registration form,
there is a $225 non-refundable deposit due at the time
you send in your registration, but then they go on to
tell you that you have a 100% money-back satisfaction
guarantee up until 1:30 p.m. the day of the regionals.
Also, no personal checks or credit cards are accepted.
These is also a workshop that they encourage you to
attend for $60 that lasts one hour and 45 minutes. A
child is allowed one parent into the event for free;
others must pay $60 to attend.
It just doesn't sound like they are trying to get you
work; it's more like they are trying to make as much
money as they can on people who desperately want to become
When I emailed Manhattan Model Search to ask what percentage
of their clients get work from these regionals, their
answer was: "It depends on what the agencies are
looking for." I didn't feel that the answer they
gave me was a completed answer. Too vague for me.
I have decided to take your advice and send pictures
of my children in to these top agencies myself.
Thanks, you saved me a lot of money that I didn't have
to spend in the first place. But you know how parents
are, they will do anything for their children.
To Whom It May Concern:
First off, I would like to applaud what you are doing;
I do not like to see people getting 'ripped off' either.
I also believe it is relatively easy to get 'listed'
on your website without being a 'scam' at all (i.e. a
person writes you a letter asking questions about us).
In order to 'set the record straight,' I would like
to make a number of propositions to you.
First, I would like to offer myself as a 'source' IF
you (or your readers) have ANY question whatsoever about
our company OR its service.
Second, I would welcome you (or ANY representative of
yours) to ANY of our Regional Model Searches (you
can see our upcoming convention schedule at www.manhattanmodelsearch.com)
as my guest so that you might be able to report about
us more factually in the future.
Finally, Manhattan Model Search has NOTHING to hide. On
the contrary, we (like you) try to educate everyone we
come into contact with about many of the actual scams
that have plagued the modeling industry for TOO long.
I would also consider it 'FAIR' if you gave our organization
the 'benefit of the doubt' at least until you have the
opportunity to personally 'kick the tires' of our company.
I await your reply.
All the Best!
Chief Executive Officer
Manhattan Model Search, Inc.
505 Eighth Avenue - Floor 12A
New York, New York 10018
Thanks for writing and thank you for the invitation.
You said: "I would like to offer myself as a 'source'
IF you (or your readers) have ANY question whatsoever
about our company OR its service."
One of the questions which was asked of Manhattan Model
Search by a previous visitor to the website was what
percentage of your clients get work from the regionals.
The MMS representative, the visitor felt, did not give
a satisfactory answer to her question. What is the success
rate? Do you feel it is important information and a fair
Apparently the Manhattan Model Search was the first
model search. (The BBB record gives its date of origin
January 1, 1988.)
But there are now several other model search firms in
America, including Model Search America (date of origin
January 1, 1993).
The BBB record for Model Search America includes the
success rate of the company, while the BBB record for
Manhattan Model Search does not. The MSA record said:
- Consumers should note that modeling is a competitive
and difficult profession to break into. According to
the firm's promotional materials, there are no guarantees
for representation. The firm notes that between 10%
and 20% of models attending past conventions have been
selected for representation, and about 8% to 10% have
gone on to earn money working as models. The firm notes
that the majority of its revenue comes from convention
fees, not commissions.
Would you be prepared to match Model Search America
and provide the BBB with the same information about the
success rate of Manhattan Model Search, i.e. those who
attend the regional events, firstly with the percentage
who are selected for representation, and then the percentage
who go on to earn money working as models?
The success rate is related to what happens during and after the
regionals. There is another significant issue regarding
what happens before the regionals: scouting.
Scouting for the regionals of course affects the success
rate of the regionals.
Many people recognize the conflict of interest in scouting
for events which require upfront fees. The more people
who are selected to attend the events, the more money
the company makes. Tear Sheet magazine, among others,
has made the observation.
Would you be prepared to acknowledge the conflict of
interest and explain to the readers and potential MMS
clients what MMS does to provide checks and balances
on the conflict of interest? What does MMS do to prevent
One thing that separates MMS from MSA and perhaps every
other model search in America is you appear to be the
only company which offers a 100% satisfaction money-back
guarantee. Is this true? And are there any special requirements
to qualify for the refund? The BBB said:
- In March 2002, the BBB requested that this firm provide
copies of its contract, promotional materials, an explanation
of its fees and refund policy, as well as proof that
clients were able to successfully redeem its '100%
Money Back Satisfaction Guarantee' coupon. The BBB
also requested proof that clients attending the firm's
model search conventions received the services promised
in the firm's promotional material. The firm provided
the Bureau with the required substantiation and its
references verified that they received the services
promised by the company. Additionally, clients verified
that they were able to redeem the firm's money-back
Finally, you said: "We (like you) try to educate
everyone we come into contact with about many of the
actual scams that have plagued the modeling industry
for TOO long." For the benefit of readers, what
do you consider to be the scams which have plagued the
To Whom It May Concern:
I stumbled upon your website while trying to research
the Manhattan Model Search "company."
I attended last weekend's "scouting," and
was basically deceived, ripped off, and deeply hurt.
I had to walk down the catwalk in front of 1,000 people
and 20 judges; then I had to walk in front of the judges
with two pictures of myself while most of them hardly
glanced at them.
It was the most degrading thing I have ever been
through, not to mention I lost $450.
In the end, only 10 (out of about 600) people were called
Can I sue them? Or demand my money back? As
you can see, I am very pissed about this situation. So
many young people were hurt that day, just because that
(so-called) "company" wanted to make money!
You asked: "Can I sue them? Or demand my money
MMS has a money-back guarantee. Were you told about
The "money-back guarentee" was: if I
changed my mind, I could have my money back BEFORE I
went down the catwalk and showed my pictures.
Some guarantee. It sounds extremely hollow. It is more
like a refund. Your money is refunded if you cancel.
It is basically for anyone who backs out, isn't it? It
amounts to a cancellation refund policy.
How was the way they phrased it not misleading? They
called it a "100% Money Back Satisfaction Guarantee."
That looks a lot like a "100% satisfaction money-back
guarantee." But how could anyone be satisfied before
they go down the catwalk and show their pictures?! It's
ridiculous, because that is the whole purpose of paying,
to be discovered.
Most people are familiar with a "100% satisfaction
money back guarantee." This means if you are not
completely satisfied with the performance of a product
or service, your money is refunded.
You said: "In the end, only 10 (out of about 600)
people were called back." Not very impressive scouting,
is it? Were the scouts fired? Did they screen you and
everyone using photos before the event? Did they send
your picture to the agents who attended the event before
No, the agents only saw my pictures that day.
There was no observing of the pictures prior to the event. I
am guessing the "agents" already had the "models" chosen
for call backs... I want my $450 back!
The agents should have seen your pictures and everyone
else's before that day. They should have selected the
people they wanted to see. Otherwise what could happen
is only 10 people out of 600 get call backs. Since that
is exactly what happened, that is proof the model "scouts" are
unqualified. It is very, very bad scouting.
Who was the scout who selected you? You said: "I
want my $450 back." How are you going to get it
back? Maybe you should speak with the model scout. The
model scout probably made a commission off selecting
you, a decent chunk of the $450. Hold that model scout
accountable. At least ask them for their commission back.
Why should the scout make money off you by doing such
a lousy job?
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