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24 September 2014
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  Inside Out - South: Monday June 2, 2003

MODEL AGENCY EXPOSED

Chris Packham and Jo Palmer posing
Disreputable agencies demand fees upfront

Ever fancied yourself as the next Kate Moss or Jodie Kidd? If you have, you're not alone. Hundreds of young hopefuls attempt to break into the industry each year. But it is not as easy as some agencies would have you believe.

Inside Out reporter Jo Palmer goes undercover to expose a Southampton company which promises to turn ordinary people into models.

Jo, who is just five feet tall and a size 12, knows that she doesn't have the physique of a supermodel. But at an audition in Portsmouth for 10AM Management, she was told that she could get work in films, brochures and catalogues.

Money talks

Jo posing for pictures
At £155, promotion photographs don't come cheap

Jo was then persuaded to pay £155 to have her photos taken, so that the Southampton-based company could promote her to various model agencies.

That was three months ago and so far Jo hasn't received any offers of work.

"I have no illusions about my looks so I wasn't really expecting to be on the cover of any magazines," she says.

"But lots of impressionable teenagers and children do go along to these events and they really get their hopes up.

"They are told they might have a future in modelling and they hand over their money."

Right to a refund

One reason that people agree to pay is that 10AM promise to refund your money if you don't get a placement with a model agency within a year.

Gemma Norfolk
Gemma received three offers from agencies, but all wanted further payments

Most 10AM clients do then get an offer from an agency - but the agency usually wants more money up front.

Gemma Norfolk is typical of the people who have complained to Inside Out.

The 20 year old paid for her photos after attending a 10AM audition in Colchester and she subsequently received three offers from agencies.

But each of the agencies wanted further payments to promote her.

"I was really excited to start with because they said I could do anything in the fashion industry that I wanted, including catwalk," says Gemma.

"But afterwards you get really disappointed and feel stupid and embarrassed about the whole thing."

No guarantee

The owner of 10AM, Jamie Randall, says that some of his clients do get work, but there are no guarantees.

"It is not part of our service to obtain modelling work. Our role is to secure a placement with an agency," says Mr Randall.

Jo posing with a ball
The Association of Model Agents insist that reputable agencies do not charge fees upfront

"There is no possibility of work until a client is signed by an agency, after which, the prospects for work will be a matter of discussion between the client and their agent."

Mr Randall also says that the £155 fee is for the photographs and that clients can avoid this fee if they bring their own photos to the audition.

Tighten up the law

The Association of Model Agents says that reputable agencies never charge upfront fees.

It also recommends that prospective models send a snapshot to agencies, rather than paying for expensive photographs.

The Government announced two years ago that it was going to change the law to stop agencies charging people before they found them work.

This hasn't happened yet, but the Department of Trade and Industry says the amendments are still planned.

See also ...

On bbc.co.uk
BBC: Modelling Agencies

On the rest of the web
Alba Model
Equity

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites

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Readers' Comments

We are not adding any new comments to this page but you can still read some of the comments previously submitted by readers.

chris
ive just attended a moddeling agency interview they wanted me and my sister to pay £155 each .they to said that if they didnt find us work they would refund our money. i remembed your article and just said no and walked out. thanx for covering this topic and helping people realise that many of these places are just after cash.

Inside Out South
In response to Gerrie Felton:

For legal advice and direct help we suggest you go to Alba, a group that campaigns specifically on this issue.

They have a website: http://www.albamodel.info/ (the BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites) and a help line 0871-717-7170.

All the best

Inside Out South

Gerrie Felton
I went, like many others to a Hotel and my daughter Kristi who is 12 years old was accepted, we were asked to pay 159.00 for a portfolio straight away, we did this and then within a couple of months was written to by an agency saying that they thought Kristi had the look they were looking for and wanted her on their books.

We have had no response from them since except that they needed another 89.00 to get some extra pictures done of Kristi so they can send them to TV studios, catalogues etc.

I have written again and again, and they have only replied to one email asking about her working licence, and that they keep it there until she gets her first job.

I have since seen a programme about the placement company and the agency being owned by the same people, I think this is absolutely disgusting what they have not only done to my money situation, but they have totally shattered her dreams, I feel they are making little girls feel brilliant by taking them onto their books, but then they have taken it all away with the other hand.

Please can anyone advise if we have a leg to stand on getting any of our money back from these people and which agencies to go to, that I can trust.

Thank you for your time

Bridgette Cooper
We paid £159.00 for photo's then surprise surprise got an approach from a model agency also in Southampton who wanted a further £90 for being maintained on the internet for 12 months!

Monica
there are also other companies like 10AM who made me pay £330 for a porfolio containing jus 10 pictures and i've been signed to them for over 3 months and i've heard no reply from them! agencies that make you charge to join are 'scams' and need to stopped!

LYNN BEGG
I TOOK MY SON JAMES TO A 10AM MANAGEMENT AUDITION THIS MORNING, IN WEST SUSSEX. IT WAS RECOMMENDED THAT JAMES SHOULD GO AHEAD. LUCKILY, WE DECIDED TO THINK ABOUT IT, CAME HOME AND FOUND THIS SITE. ALTHOUGH MY SON IS VERY DISAPPOINTED, I AM GLAD WE DID THIS SEARCH.

THANK YOU. IS SO EASY TO BE CAUGHT UP IN THE EXCITEMENT.

Lisa
This company is still going round the country advertising in local newspapers for open days to try to con more unsuspecting members of the public into parting with their hard earned cash.

Val
I too have paid upfront over £300 for two of my daughters to the same people, but they then called themselves Pure Media.co. from Southampton, this was 2 months ago.

We like the others have got a letter through but we have to pay more money. It should not be allowed that people like these get rich from gullible people like us.

Gemma Oakley
I was told a couple of weeks ago at my interview in Plymouth that I was appropriate for tv/film extra, magazines and brochures.

I was then told to pay £155 for my photoshoot the following day. I did not have the money myself, although my mother had agreed to pay using her card via telephone.

When I rang 10AM Management they said they did not have the facilities for this payment. This left me feeling down and put a stop on me progressing my dreams to do modelling.

Jackie Denton
I (and I believe quite a few others) have recently been taken in by this company. Having to let my daughter (aged 8) down will be the hardest thing to do. I was never told that if we had brought pictures to the interview the charge would be waived. The law should be changed -and soon.

Emma
i watched your programme and reconised the building you were stood outside, it was the same building i stood outside a few years ago having handing over £150 to modelling agency A1 who did photos of me and a few months later sent through a letter saying they'd moved out of the area.

im sick that this sort of thing goes on, at the time i was young and really though it would take off for me but looking back, i wasting a lot of my savings on it which i now regret and theres no way i will ever get my hands on that cash again.



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