Friday, April 17, 2009

Tru Talent Management

I was at Target a few days ago, and I had a woman named Rachel approach me. She complimented me on how cute Z is. She asked if I'd ever seen High School Musical. Well, uh, not exactly. She then goes on to tell me she's a talent scout, and thinks that Z would be a great model because he's so cute. She gives me a card, and asks permission to call and set up an appointment with her boss.

They call yesterday, and ask if I can come in today. I had nothing better to do, so why not? I was pretty sure this was all a scam, but then the appointment setter tells me to bring in several snapshots of Z so they can see how he photographs. Well, this isn't what I was expecting, so I start to wonder if maybe it is legit. But, I was 90% convinced it was a scam. I had plans to go to dinner with my mom afterwards, and I needed a kick in the pants to get Z's two year old portraits done, so I decide to go along with it.

I realize that my darling husband took the wrong camera charger with him on his trip out of town, so my beloved rebel has dead batteries, and no way to charge them. Husband also has my second choice in camera. So, I dig my ancient digital camera out of storage, charge it up, and take Z's pictures today.

We get to the agency, and the kids are understandably fidgety after being in the car for the past 90 minutes. I am informed that it's an "audition". I try to keep a straight face at the idea of a barely 2 year old "auditioning". We called back fairly quickly. The man is acting friendly and chatty towards Z, but it feels fake to me. While he talks to Z, he strikes me as the kind of person who does not like children.

We get back to his office, and Z and M are playing on the floor, S is sitting on a seat with a small ball, and K is sitting quietly. Walter asks what I know about "the business", and why I chose to come in. I told him that I knew nothing, and that if Z had some "thing" that casting directors were looking for, it'd be nice to get his college paid for. He said that was definitely possible.

He then starts writing out on paper. After scratching figures on the paper for a couple minutes, he says that to get started, I have to have a photo portfolio of Z. Tru Talent will create said portfolio, and create a resume and web page for Z. I can pay $1200 for this, or make monthly payments of $128. Then, I can pay $80 a year to update the photos. I then have access to their bulletin boards of upcoming auditions, and if I see one I want, I contact them, and they give me time and location. I asked them if I could get the photography done elsewhere. He said that I would need to have their photographers do the photo shoot so they'd know they were getting the shots they want. He then gets really mad at M and Z for being too loud.

Let step back for a second and clarify. I know my children are not perfect. I'll be the first to say that yes, they can be rowdy occasionally. While we were there, they had some energy, but honestly, I was impressed they were as quiet and still as they were after sitting still in a car for 90 minutes. While M & Z were playing, they were playing quietly. they were talking, but it was almost whispers. M had done something that made Z laugh, and when he laughs, it's a little loud. It is not anything obnoxious or overly loud. While I know my kids aren't perfect, they generally behave pretty well in public, and if they do get a little wild, I am quick to discipline them.

I'll tell you what though. NOBODY disciplines my children in front of me. Particularly not a stranger who is trying to bilk me out of thousands of dollars. When he got after them for being too loud (which I didn't think they were, and I promise I'm not one of those crazy ladies who lets their kids run out of control), he lost any chance of getting a penny out of me. In fact, even if they had offered to do all of that stuff for free, I'm not sure I would've worked with them anyway, given his annoyance roiling off of him, and his obvious inexperience and impatience with children.

Although he was initially friendly with the kids, it seemed very forced. He didn't even glance at Z, didn't make eye contact with any of the kids, and didn't seem to even listen to their answers when he asked a couple questions as we walked back to his office. Didn't ask me a single question about Z other than age. Didn't ask if I'd brought the assigned photos in. So, obviously, he didn't see the photographs I had taken.

So, after I calmed down for a second and managed to quell the urge to throw something at him for getting after my children, I told him that I'd be happy to have that money come out of our first commission check, but I wasn't putting down a penny beforehand (which I guess was kind of a lie, as I'd paid $.43 to print out some pictures for them). At that point, he said that "I don't feel we had anything more to talk about."

He handed me a card, and we were escorted out.

My impression was the place didn't see to be very high budget. It felt kind of low class and sleazy. I'm not a huge decorating person, but it felt very cheap to me. The furniture struck me as being from one of the cheap furniture warehouse type places. Ugly carpet, no touches to make the place feel expensive and successful. I didn't feel at all confident in their ability to make my child a star if they couldn't even make an office appear sophisticated and glamorous.

Before going in I was pretty sure it was a scam. I had thought that the "agent" would've cozied up to me and told me about how brilliant, beautiful and obviously talented my child(ren) was, and how they really wanted to sign them. Not just Z, but all four! I mean, really, look at them! I was expecting the agent to be a salesperson who would charm me. Instead, he basically ignored all of them, except to get mad at them for having a quiet conversation.

So, you wanna see the pictures I brought that he didn't even bother to ask about? Yeah?

Ok, here is my beautiful baby boy.

25 comments:

Chardell said...

Sorry you had to go through all that. In high school I got a phone call from a "modeling agency" they said they saw my picture in the year book and thought I would be a great model. I laughed out loud and said "if that's the picture you saw then this has to be a scam" She was very flustered after that.

Wendy said...

ROFL That is so funny! I think you are a beautiful girl and would have made a great model. However, yearbook photos are generally not known to be flattering. I would've loved to have listened to that conversation.

ReneeLynn03 said...

Tyra Banks always says if they want money they aren't legit. I guess that is a rule to live by. What a scammer though, at least you have some ADORABLE pics and a story to tell :P

Alison said...

Sounds exactly like the scam a friend of mine signed her son up for. She still is just sure it is legit, but so far hasn't made a penny and has paid a lot of money for pictures. Good for you for not falling for it!

Kristen said...

Well if it were up to me I would have signed him for free. I think the pictures are adorable!

Katie said...

Adorable pictures! I agree, I've also heard that if they ask you for money, then it's not legit.

Janalee said...

This same thing happened to me last week while at walmart. i agreed just as you did and then got a call a few days later. I hesitated in calling them back because I was nervous. so when I finally did I set up an appt for today @ 3 wondering now if I should really go in and waste my time after reading your blog and finding out they want money up front...I dont know what to do now!

Wendy said...

I am dying to hear if you went or not! What did you do?

Leanna said...

I can honestly tell you that Tru Talent is not a scam. I'm 14 years old and am with Tru Talent in Las Vegas. they seemed really shady to me at first as well but after i got to know the place and talked to people i came to find that it is actually a really good business. I'm not sure how the people in Salt Lake City are but in the one in Vegas they are super nice and i am the center of attention when i go to talk to my agent. Ive been with them for about 2 months now and have been to 4 actual auditions with directors and runway supervisors. i can completely guarantee that this is not a scam.

Ezralyn said...

Hey Hun!
I just want to tell you know you made the right choice...I was so ready to start my career with something that I rushed into it. Now I'm in debt with them basically and now they are threatening me that they'll sue me if I don't pay them. I have lost my job and now I'm struggle to pay it. (ugh) But I didn't give up on modeling or anything. If anything, I found jobs and promotional work on my own! But you have a beautiful young boy and I am happy you pasted that deal up. You should make sure EVERYONE thinking about getting their child or themselves into this, realize that it's a huge mistake!

P.S. In responds to Leanna...
Well then the SLC one needs work because in my personal view they haven't done anything for me. (besides the classes & in my opinion were way too much.) I've been too 3 or 4 auditions and I've learned nothing from it. I have learned a lot from the classes though, I just think their system isn't done every well; after I took the classes they totally ignored me. Then again I am 20 years old and they seem to be more interested in the young teens and children. So I guess it just depends sometimes.

Anna said...

OH my goodness! I was in Target the other day---same thing happened to me! I was looking up more info and came across this- So, I cancelled my appt.! Crazy people!

:-)

Me said...

Hahaha, yeah, I just set up an appointment with them, but now I'm definitely not going. I don't exactly feel like getting scammed out of my important time and money.

Too bad, they seemed like nice people when they approached me at the gym. But forget it, that's not my thing anyway, I was just looking for college money.

Devon said...

Hahaha, yeah, I just set up an appointment with them, but now I'm definitely not going. I don't exactly feel like getting scammed out of my important time and money.

Too bad, they seemed like nice people when they approached me at the gym. But forget it, that's not my thing anyway, I was just looking for college money.

Devon said...

Woops, the comment was left twice, once from my stepmom's account and once from mine.

Bevsings said...

Welp..it goes to show you that even older people can get scammed. I am 54 and still look pretty. I got scammed out of the $1,200 plus they didn't tell me that it costs to have the pics printed plus you pay for the copyright...all for $45 a piece.... so I am into them for $2,200 and I only got one extra job with a commercial over a year ago. I went to quite a few of their auditions but nothing came of any of them. They don't assist you in picking a good monologue or anything...so, what the heck did I pay for. The pictures are good and that is what sold me plus the good looking young guy who scammed me. Beware...I think they should be shut down.

Britt said...

Hi, you don't know me, but I just wanted to say thanks- I looked up "Tru Talent" on Google, and was led to your blog. Rachel approached me yesterday at Walmart of all places, and I was just called to set up an appointment with them for tomorrow. I asked them directly on the phone, "Are you gonna tell me that I have to create a portfolio for each of my kids and that you could be so good as to provide that service for me at several hundred dollars a pop?" She answered that of course my kids would need professional pictures, but that they were not necessary for them to take us on as clients. I set up an appointment, but especially after hearing the way they treated you, forget it. I'm not showing up for that. Thanks again.

Becky B. said...

Double thanks for your post. I too was Googling Tru Talent ("Your son has a great look!" blah blah) and found your blog. Thanks for sharing your story. I know I'm not calling these people back.

Melissa said...

Wow! I just came across your blog when researching this company. I was just approached at Target about half an hour ago and I had a hard time taking the girl seriously because she reeked of cigarette smoke and was dressed pretty sleazy. I did give her my number but I don't think I'll be answering when they call. :)

Brian and Triscia said...

Thank you soooo much for posting this.... I too got approached at Walmart for my 3yr old twins! I did give them my cell number for an appoint. They have called three times and I finally picked up today and made it for tomorrow at 11. I thought that I should research them before I waste my time! And low and behold.....story after story.......of scams!!!! This is sooooo wrong on sooo many levels!!! I do think that all my kids are adorable.....but why would someone come up to you in a store?????? The legit places don't..... Weird!!!! Thanks again for saving me my time and frustration in dragging three kids up there.....if anyone was rude to my kids...they would probably get a punch in the face.... :D

jane DOE said...

i am one of the recent victims of the tru talent scam and now i want out of the contract but theres not much we can really do other than have the utah division of consumer protection look into it which i suggest you do maybe if there are enough complaints they can do something about it as for helping please check out this blog http://helpjanedoe.blogspot.com/ i just created!! i want to find as many people as i can who want to help email me at janed_o_e@live.com

Raegan said...

I am glad I found your post. The people approached me at Walmart well one person did and then another one did 5 minutes later. I realized then something was a bit off. I will not be wasting my time with them!! Sorry you had to waste yours.

Juls Broadhead said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nikki said...

SO glad that I read your blog. I took my 4 and 6 year old in tonight and they tried to sign both my kids for 1k. They said for pics and classes. It just didn't sound right. We told them we would think about it and maybe talk to some of the parents after a class. I know there are costs for pics and what not but then I googled the agency and got a whole lot of negative feedback including a piece done by KSL. We will not be going back for sure. I just hope they don't email me now since I did fill out the form. UUGh!

Debbie said...

Utah Division of Consumer Protection has filed against them and per their response has been charged with 70+ counts and a min of 175,000 fine!!! look up the story and info on KSL 5!!!!

Unknown said...

I was also approached at walmart. I asked if it cost anything and they said no. Not going in.