• Report: #268683

Complaint Review: Agency Eighty Nine, Omaha

  • Submitted: Sun, August 19, 2007
  • Updated: Wed, February 04, 2009

  • Reported By:Bellevue Nebraska
Agency Eighty Nine, Omaha
16820 Frances St # 206 Omaha, Nebraska U.S.A.

Agency Eighty NineAgency Eighty Nine, Omaha Agency 89, just another scam to captilize on the dreams of the young... Omaha Nebraska

*Consumer Comment: Agency 89 Scam

*Consumer Suggestion: New Management, Same Scam

*UPDATE Employee: Agency 89 Under New Management

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Agency 89 claims to be the only liscensed modelling agency in nebraska. it also claims to offer many oppurtunities, have many connections and be the best way to get your foot in the door. What I found was that this is all part of the propaganda to get you to sign on. after auditioning and joining, you are put into a class which feels all but organized. The size of the group is far too large and therefore destroys the concept of intimate learning, which they offer. each segment of the class is alotted fifteen minutes, in which information is hastilly given, usually on how and when to complete assignments.

before an individual can proceed into the "promotion" side of the agency, they must fufill a certain number of requirements (i.e. getting jobs on your own, making a resume of this and recruiting five people to sign on) all of which seem to be a pyramid scheme in the making. the agency lacks any kind of real structure, and claims to want only the best. once accepted you have only to look around the room and see that not many qualify. In fact, one of my classmates i found online soliciting himself. that hardly represents a group of people i want to be a part of. the "school" is only vaguely mentioned in the pitch, but seemed to me their primary function.

Agency Eighty Nine is no new creature, it is simply better at disguising itself. it is a very poor modelling school that will promote you for a scant year, take 32% of your earnings and waste at least five months of your time for the low price of only 3,000 dollars (plus interest at about 1000). It makes you or your children shamelessly promote the fraud and brainwashes it's students into proliferating their friends' minds with it's seductive jargon. Agency 89 also tries to enforce a 500 dollar "buyout" just as an insurance policy (speaking of, it also makes you sign a waiver in case you fall of the runway), which i was informed of after quitting the course.

it only took me one look to know that i was being scammed. PLEASE!!! avoid this agency at all costs!!! it is not legitimate and has already incurred one complaint with the bbb!!!! It is not a viable resource in the industry, rather it is yet another in a long line of fasion scams, designed to sucker hopeful young models, and drain their parent's wallets.

Bellevue, Nebraska

This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 08/19/2007 07:14 PM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Agency-Eighty-Nine-Omaha/Omaha-Nebraska-68005/Agency-Eighty-NineAgency-Eighty-Nine-Omaha-Agency-89-just-another-scam-to-captilize-on-t-268683. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.

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#1 Consumer Comment

Agency 89 Scam

AUTHOR: Anonymous - (U.S.A.)

I just wanted to add that Agency 89 has also falsified their staffs' qualifications..take Ms. Berens for example. Here is her description from the Agency 89 website.

"2. Miss Molly Berens, Booking Director - Miss Berens attended the University of Kansas and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she was the president of Textiles Clothing and Design's Montage. She lived in NYC for part of her career, where she worked for Showroom 7, a showcase of upcoming innovative designers. Molly graduated with a degree in Fashion Merchandising with a minor in Marketing, and has worked in the Omaha fashion scene for over 5 years."

I am a former collegue of Ms. Berens with some facts that proves the opposite. While she has attended both KU and UNL, she has never graduated from either university. In fact, she only completed a few years of college before dropping out. She does not hold a degree or professional license of any kind. She has only visited NYC on one or two occasions (for about 2-3 days each), but has never lived and/or worked there. With the exception of her few years in college, she has never left Omaha! She did work at a local clothing store for about 2 years, but only as a clerk/cashier. I guess Agency 89 considers that 5 years in the Omaha fashion scene. They should really do a background check on her!

My jaw dropped when I read this on their website, and I immediately contacted them to inquire about the false information being presented. The woman I spoke with seemed shocked, but not in a way that you would think. It seemed she was shocked because someone "discovered their dishonesty." She said they would look into it immediately, and get back with me. Six months later I never heard anything, and she's still working there. I'm sure they know she does not have those qualifications, but are greatly embellishing Ms. Berens' skills and background because they think it's better for business.

Dishonesty is the WORST thing you can do for business!!!
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#2 Consumer Suggestion

New Management, Same Scam

AUTHOR: Professional Model - (U.S.A.)

Any Modeling / Talent Agency that charges you money is indeed a scam.

A Legitimate agency makes it's money ONLY from the commissions it earns by getting jobs for it's Models and Talent and does NOT operate any kind of school.

Anyone researching Agency 89 should also do a Google search of it's founder Cortney Sells the agency's founder. Read the search titled "Easy Background Check... Impact 210..".

Modeling / Talent agencies are categorized as employment agencies. Some states have laws that prohibit them from charging more than a certain percent commission fee (15% is typical) and the can NOT charge for training and marketing. This is to protect consumers from exploitation and fraud. The Screen Actors Guild also has similar by-laws. In the modeling and talent industry Agency 89 is viewed as a school, this is why they had to become licensed by the State of Nebraska. The bulk of their income is derived from people coming in and paying for some kind of "training". Calling themselves an Agency is deceptive and misleading to the general public. Calling themselves a management company is a bit of a stretch by industry standards because they lack the appropriate experience. In the Modeling and Talent industries legitimate agencies do NOT also operate schools. It is a conflict of interest and is unethical. Modeling is NOT something that IF you go to school for it then that means you'll have a good chance of becoming a model, though the majority of people that go to them have been lead to believe that they will, or hoping that they will. Models are booked for their looks and is based on market demand. It has been said that Modeling chooses you and you don't choose IT. It will come easy for those that it's meant to happen for. A legitimate Agent knows what his Clients needs are. They do NOT charge you money, put you through some kind of course and then later come up with a reason why you're not getting work. Sure there are no guarantees but this why it is why it is considered unethical for an Agency to charge you money.

What Agency 89 is doing is not new to the industry and not new to Omaha. Modeling schools tied in with some sort of "Agency", "Management", "Self Improvement", or "Finishing" guise have all at one time been here and are now gone. Why? First off, if I went to a school to learn a trade,.. cosmetology, plumbing, culinary, etc... and did okay at it, passed final requirements and somewhat proficient at it, the chances are pretty good I could go out and get employment at it. Modeling is just not that way. If I spent three thousand dollars and my time to go to a school I'd be expecting some kind of return out of it. Secondly, very good trade schools are successful because they have very high placement within their particular industry.. such as 90+% placement. Modeling schools on the other hand have just about the opposite... 98+% NOT getting any kind of placement. By the way, you are not a Model or an Actor, or any other profession for that matter, unless it says so on you income tax return. One way the "new management" of Agency 89 can figure out how much of a positive impact that they have had on this market and peoples lives is by looking at the number or Form 1099's that they have sent out to their Models and Talent versus the number of people that have come through their doors and that they have taken money from... how about we not include the paid staff on this one to be fair. This is a number that you'll definitely NOT be seeing in their advertising brochures. They claim that they're servicing those that are new to the industry but some may see this as meaning "those that don't know any better... yet". Another reason Modeling schools in general don't seem to fair well is due to the lack of experience of their staff. Maybe it's just me but I would NOT go to learn how to do something from someone that's never done it before and personally for ME I'd want that someone to have done it for living. Looking over the staff bios of Agency 89 the experience level is extremely lacking. Say for instance if I wanted to go there to learn about being a Fashion Model, NO one there has ever been one. The main instructor there has a background in some commercial / commercial print work but has no trade union affiliations which in this industry means she may have only been involved as an Extra. If I was the parent of a young "prospective model" I'd be very wary of them. I'd want to know that my child was with someone that's "been there done that" especially if they're trying to send them off to another market.

Agency 89 is claiming to not make "seasoned people" take any of their classes and will represent them. The truth to this is that anyone that has ever done any work knows that the only clients that use a Modeling School / Agency are ones that do not want to pay or have next to nothing in their budgets. This is similar to what you and I might think when we go to a Cosmetology School to get our hair cut or take our car to an Automotive Technology program at the local community college to get it fixed. You're providing them a learning opportunity, the labor costs though will be cheap if not free, it will probably take longer and hopefully it will turn out okay. But if a Client has a project that can't be left to chance, they'll go to a professional. Typically Modeling school students work the Bridal and Hair shows and do entry level promotional work, which can be fun and you can say you did it but after once or twice you start to realize that this is a business and you deserve to be paid fairly for your time. "Seasoned people" also know of the general reputation of modeling schools and therefore know not to be associated with them.

How can a scam business be a member of the Better Business Bureau? As long as they spell out that you will not be making any money being involved with them and they don't make any promises they can't keep, you will not have a valid complaint.

How can a scam business make themselves look like they're legitimate? They do this by trying to associate themselves with reputable, established, respectable businesses that have no knowledge of this industry. They will also use charity causes. They will also try and advertise an association with a reputable modeling agency. As you may guess though that when these businesses find out about their real ethics and practices they are not very happy about it. Legitimate Agencies do NOT have to do this sort of thing. They do NOT have to have large yellow page ads, kiosks at the shopping mall and try to advertise all over the internet. All of these things indicate a modeling school that is out to make money off the unaware, and unfortunately it mostly involves children and teenagers. Legitimate agents have earned their reputations within the industry by hard work, exceptional customer service and most important of all... honesty. Which again brings us back to why Modeling schools eventually fail. They can only go around trying to mislead, manipulate and exploit other in a community for only so long before it catches up with them. Don't think for a moment though that they are fooling everyone and are getting away with this deception. There are many professional Model and Actors that reside here in Omaha that have worked in this industry for many years, some have decades of experience and have worked internationally and nationally. These people are the ones that are with the local legitimate agents and are the ones that you see in our local advertising everyday. Clients that hire models and actors are also very aware of what's going on and they also represent their companies within this industry, they are not going to be supportive of those that take advantage of others.

Let me give an example of how things are done at a professional level. The model management company that I'm with charges 15% commission from Bookings. The staff has decades of experience as professional Models and Actors. They've been members of the Screen Actors Guild. They've worked in this industry nationally and internationally and have been in the Omaha market many years. They represent and market the Models and Actors that have been doing this here for a long time and also ones that are just starting out. They also place people into other markets but it's usually those that have worked enough in this market and are then ready to expand out. You are not doing an agent in another market any favors if you are trying to place with them someone that has no experience and can't spend time in their market. My agency trains people and it's usually one on one and does NOT charge for it. They also do NOT charge for their portfolio photography, this also includes the Hair and Make-up which is done by the same stylist that our clients use. They do NOT charge for marketing or any kind of website fee. Their philosophy is that they are investing in their people and will get their return over the long term... in other words they get their money only when they get people work. This is why they are considered as representing the best. Please compare this to what you are seeing and hearing about this Agency 89.

Avoid anyone that wants money to make you a Model or Actor.
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#3 UPDATE Employee

Agency 89 Under New Management

AUTHOR: Agency 89 - (U.S.A.)

We understand your frustration with former operational methods. It is important to know that Agency 89 is currently doing some restructuring and is under new management. While we cannot speak for the promises that were made to people in the past, we can assure you that future endeavors will be handled with professional courtesy in regards to our talent, parents, partners and vendors. It is important to understand that there are two separate parts of the Agency: the school side and the Agency side. I can assure you that our signing agents do not give everyone a call-back and not everyone is signed. The agents take the scoring process of assessing talent very seriously and constantly work to maintain the standards we have set any new or potential talent.

Agency 89 Model & Talent Management presents a unique opportunity to the talent we represent. While we are a school that develops the skills of individual with no previous industry experience, we are also a full service talent agency, representing talent with an already accomplished resume. Those seasoned individuals with a print and commercial background therefore do not take any classes. They are simply looking for an agency to represent them and book jobs for them.

Agency 89 is very clear to their talent, both during the signing process and in their talent handbooks. Our staff understands the skills that are necessary during a selection process, whether that's acceptance into a social organization, college or university, a professional position or a modeling or casting audition. The individual is responsible for guaranteeing their own success stories by using the skills, knowledge and opportunities gained at Agency 89.

There are dozens of success stories that have come out of Agency 89. The talent we represent have signed with other agencies in Miami, New York, Chicago and LA, as well as done look-sees in Europe.

The Agency 89 talent we represent are also very successful in the local commercial and voice-over market, doing ads for Cox, Toyota, Harrah's and Horseshoe Casinos, Elisa Ilana and Nebraska Furniture Mart, amongst numerous others.

Agency Success Stories

1. Sammi N I believe my greatest accomplishment has been getting signed with a Kansas City agency. This will provide the opportunity to expand my future into not just the local market, but the regional Midwest and possibly nationally. All I can say is THANK YOU Agency 89 for believing in me which has helped me to believe in myself.

2. Becca W when we heard about Agency 89 in April, we decided to go to Open Call. We did look into some other agencies in Omaha, but it appeared Agency 89 had the most to offer. Since then, our lives have definitely changed! A few short months later, Becca was offered a contract with Elite Model Management in Chicago AND has two agents in New York express an interest in representing her when she's a couple years older! We have learned so much about the business and met so many nice and interesting people.

Agency 89 is also considered a school. Our central focus is the development of the person, encouraging each student to achieve their personal best. Our classes are designed to provide the knowledge, skills and opportunities to pursue careers in the modeling and entertainment industries. It is the only talent agency licensed with the Nebraska Department of Education (NDOE). The Agency must meet and adhere to strict guidelines for private postsecondary schools as set by the NDOE.

These guidelines include but are not limited to:

1. Authorization to Operate - approval by the Department to operate a private postsecondary career school in this state.

2. Course of Study or Instruction - a program of study, training, or instruction consisting of a series of lessons or classes which are coordinated as a curriculum or program of instruction to prepare or qualify individuals or improve or upgrade the skills needed for employment, career opportunities, or any specific occupation.

3. Private Postsecondary Career School - any organization or business enterprise which is not specifically exempt under the Act, which offers courses or subjects for which tuition is charged, and at the place of business where a course of instruction is available through classroom instruction, home study, or both to a person for the purpose of training, preparing, or improving the person for an occupation even though the organization's or business enterprise's principal efforts may not be exclusively educational in nature.

Our Fusion class is a prep course for those seriously interested in the modeling and entertainment industries. Each student is assessed after successfully completing 16 classes. At that time, Agency 89 will determine if the student is proficient enough in the areas of the program to start auditioning for jobs.

The Fusion areas of study include:

1. Beauty, Body and Branding students become skilled at the necessities of good skincare and basic makeup application in our modern vanity room. Students discover their own fashion sense and learning the art of personal care. This includes in-class meetings with guest experts in the fields of fitness, nutrition and personal styling.

2. Business Savvy students gain exposure to life-long skills such as interviewing, resume writing and professional courtesy. This area provides students with the knowledge needed to interact with industry professionals.

3. Performance learn acting and speaking skills that are vital in commercial and script work, whether on camera, in a live performance or behind a microphone.

4. Runway includes class photo shoots in order to practice and perfect proper posing. Students will develop the skill and artistry of the perfect walk, including hesitation and fashion show stance.

School Side Success Stories

1. Lindsey G Modeling was something I had always wanted to do I just didn't think I had what it takes. After starting my classes at Agency 89 I became more comfortable in my skin and realized what my parents had been telling me was true. If you work hard at something and put your mind to it you can achieve. Gaining confidence has helped me in my everyday life. I held a leadership role at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus as a Junior Delegate for Delta Delta Delta Sorority and worked with other Junior Delegates to represent Greek life. Working with others and leading helped me become more comfortable in my skin and to stand for what I believed in. Confidence continues to help me in my life as I start my business career and learn to succeed in whatever I do.

2. Ruth E Agency 89 has been nothing but an absolute help in furthering my career and confidence in myself. This agency made a drifting dreamer LIVE her dream! Inside of me, I now have the drive and leadership to be number one you must always believe that anything is possible. BELIEVE AND YOU WILL SUCCEED! Now I am not saying this business is a piece of cake. You have to WORK HARD for the prize. Keep your head up and stay on top of things.

Agency 89 and its staff are always looking for ways to improve our student and talent's experience. The agency is currently doing some restructuring of its management to better serve our purpose. Miss Cortney Sells is no longer with Agency 89 and is pursuing other interests. The staff members now in place are all very excited to move forward with a new direction and a new focus.

1. Miss Shannon N. Young, Director of Operations - Miss Young is a dual degree graduate from Dana College where she took on many leadership roles: Senate Vice President (2 terms), Academic Honors, and varsity basketball. Young is no stranger to the stage, as she is a former Miss Nebraska, National American, top-ten Semi-finalist and Evening Gown winner of Miss NE USA.

2. Miss Molly Berens, Booking Director - Miss Berens attended the University of Kansas and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she was the president of Textiles Clothing and Design's Montage. She lived in NYC for part of her career, where she worked for Showroom 7, a showcase of upcoming innovative designers. Molly graduated with a degree in Fashion Merchandising with a minor in Marketing, and has worked in the Omaha fashion scene for over 5 years.

3. Mrs. Michelle Lewis, Office Manager - Mrs. Lewis has a strong background in education and working with students. She received her Bachelor of Science in Biology from Midland Lutheran College in 2000. Michelle completed her Masters Work in Education at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, obtaining her Nebraska Teaching Certificate. She spent 7 years teaching high school science and coaching volleyball, most recently at Wahoo Public School.

4. Mrs. Michelle Stephenson, Business Development - Mrs. Stephenson has been heavily involved in the media and event arena for over 10 years. She has traveled throughout the United States and overseas as a spokesmodel for ClearChannel MotorSports. Michelle is deeply involved as a volunteer for ALS in the Heartland.

5. Ms. Kellie Pearson, Staff Editor & Instructor - Ms. Pearson is a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and holds a Bachelor of Journalism degree. Before joining Agency 89, she worked at two television stations in the Omaha area, KPTM Fox 42 and most recently, KETV Newswatch 7. In both roles she held a Producer position, writing the content for local newscasts and special projects. Kellie also served as the Speech Teacher at Raymond Central High School.

6. Mrs. Sasha Speiker, School Director & Instructor - Mrs. Speiker has worked professionally in theatre, film, television, and radio. She has studied acting in Nebraska, Texas, and California. Sasha has competed in national beauty pageants and has done hundreds of regional print and commercial spots. Some of her work includes Bubble Yum, Chil-fil-a, Coca Cola, and Con Agra. Sasha received a BA in Education and works directly with the Department of Education.
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