Larry Bagwell, CEO of Kids.com, LLC [justourkids.com] ..avoids simple questions, no answers.
(courtesy of WCCO)
Hi, I work for the firm representing the Models who are suing Options/eModels/TC Talent, et al. The other day my boss asked me to do some internet research and I came across your site. I just wanted everyone reading the stuff on TC Talent to know that the complaint information is accurate stuff -- I know because I helped serve the complaints.
Anyway, I am writing with regard to Kids.com, a company that has a child modeling scam frighteningly similar to the ones being run by TC Talent and Options Talent. If anyone can prove a connection between these groups, please tell me so I can start a class action suit, too.
I received a letter from Kids.com last year (2001/2002) stating that the management agency had been told about my daughter. [continued below]....
..... Since I have friends who are legitimate acting teachers, and I have had lots of people say that my kid should model, I assumed one of them gave someone they knew my child's information.
I responded to the letter -- each letter has this special code on it, which makes it seem like this is some exclusive thing, they won't talk to you unless you can give them the code. Anyway, I called and they made an appointment for someone to come to my home and speak to me and my husband and see our baby, who was just under 1 year old at the time.
The guy shows up, gives us his business card, claims he has 25 years in the business, shows us the covers of Parenting, Parents, and other magazines, shows us ads from Gerber, etc., that their kids supposedly are in, claims they have kids working on Sesame Street, etc., but doesn't give me a single reference or number to call to verify this. He says this is confidential because it is kids and they have to protect them.
Anyway, he then says that we have to pay $595, one time nonrefundable fee to Kids.com in order to have our daughter's professional photos taken (by photographers that they hand pick) and have one of them put on their website, www.justourkids.com. She was supposedly on a 5-year contract and they got 20% of whatever she made, if there were union dues involved, they would pay half and our child would have to 'work off' the other half (can we say child labor law violation?).
My kid will get a code number and if an agent or casting director whatever sees her and thinks she has talent, they will contact Kids.com and use her 'secret code number' because they don't post full names on their websites, etc.
I didn't think it was Kosher, and hinted as much to my husband, who thinks his kid is a princess (and she is) and was all drawn in. We didn't have $595 to give the guy and I said, 'can we look at this and think about it'? and he kept pressuring us, saying we had to make a decision and sign right then and there.
So my husband says we will have to forgo this deal because we just don't have the $595. He offers us an 'installment plan', and we pay about $100 and then they take down our bank account information and take the money straight out of our bank account on certain dates. Then our daughter goes to get professional photos taken, and we have to take these professional photos every 6 months and pay a $10 or $20 'sitting fee' to the photographer in order to get her photos taken and sent to the agency.
Once you see the photos (which really are awesome, high quality portraits), you pick two of them to send to the agency, but you can't get copies of the child's photos unless you pay for them, and the cost is astronomical! You don't get the proofs, nothing, unless you pay another $200 or $300 dollars.
My daughter's photo was placed on the website in spring of 2002. It is a year later and I have not received one call from Kids.com, not even to follow up. I did get a letter and a phone call, though, telling me that we have to send her to another photo shoot ($20) and that updating the photos is essential to getting work, etc. I spoke to one of my friends who used to model (nothing major, just print work) and she said this doesn't sound like the way a good agent operates. She said that you don't need professional photos -- especially not for a kid.
So my husband and I took our own, blew them up on our computer and on the Kodak machine at the local drugstore, they looked pretty good, and we sent some candid shots to my child's 'agent' at Kids.com. Turns out the guy no longer works there, we got a call from a woman we didn't know, who didn't give us her name, and she said that the photos 'capture [our] child well,' but that we needed to get professional photos taken with one of their hand picked photo studios -- they wouldn't use the cheaper ones on their website. I then called back and asked her about work for my child, asked what agencies my child's photo had been sent to and what the responses had been.
She said there had been no inquiries for our daughter and that it was 'confidential' which people had pictures of our child! I said that $595 was a lot of money to spend for no work. She said that a lot of parents don't manage to make their kids famous because they 'give up' and that if we wanted this deal to work, we had to keep updating those professional photos and put our trust in Kids.com. I asked who was her supervisor, who was in charge and when can I speak with them. She wouldn't give me any information, tried to discourage me from speaking to her boss.
Well, I figured we got taken, and was so embarrased I didn't even try to get my money back. Then I got a job at a law firm handling this Model scam case. I was doing research for my boss and came across the Options Talent/TC Talent scams, which sound very similar to the one my family was drawn into ($595). I kept researching and found out that there was a modeling agency called National Talent Associates, also based in Fairfield, NJ, that had a website called www.ntakids.com. I looked up the website --- IT IS THE SAME EXACT WEBSITE AS JUSTOURKIDS.COM, except a different name -- same set up, same graphics, same information, same KIDS! National Talent Associates had been investigated by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and had been issued an injunction by a judge, forbidding them to do business anymore in New Jersey. The FTC Docket No. is D8960 and the Civil Action No. is 96-2617.
Apparently all they did was change their name from NTA kids to Kids.com (same letterhead, same logo, same design on the introduction package's folder) and run the same scam.
I checked these people out with the Better Business Bureau and they were not only in good standing (no consumer complaints), but they were also a MEMBER of the BBB in New Jersey. This is the same situation reported by other people who had run ins with Options, eModel and TC Talent, on your ripoff website.
I don't know if there is a link, but if there is and we can prove it, maybe Kids.com can be included in this big class action suit that is going on. In any case, I want to hear from people who were also scammed by this company, if a bunch of us all get together and complain jointly to the FTC, referencing the previous court injunction, maybe we can get our money back from Kids.com. I don't think they deserve a dime of my money, the deal was that we would have them act as my child's managing agent to the modeling industry, the deal WASN'T that we were paying for fancy pictures that we don't even get to keep or own.
Dayann in New York City
Ozone Park, New York