I am writing to again inform everyone about the shady business practices of Bruce Romberg of Starbiz Wilhemina in Scottsdale, Arizona. My wife and I were duped into believing our daughter was "just what they were looking for". Although Starbiz is technically a "legal" business, we felt severly misled. Here's our story: Picture of the front of the building Starbiz scam-centeral is located in.
We heard a radio commercial one Sunday afternoon in late April 2004 that Starbiz was looking for babies and toddlers to star in a print ad for a well-known clothing retailer. We called the number and were set up for an interview that week. Of course, when we arrived, there were at least 50 parents there with kids. We went through the interview process and were told to call back later that day to confrim we still wanted to proceed (as they had told us during the interview that we would have to cough up $685 for their services).
Being the sceptical type, I checked with the Better Business Bureau after returning to work that day, and found that they were listed with the BBB and had no complaints (no surprise). So we called to confirm our interest. We soon received a call back that our daughter was selected and that we needed to come down and pay the $685 and sign a contract.
So we paid and we signed, and we were scheduled for a photo shoot in late May. The contract we signed stated that our child was guaranteed at least one appearance in a print ad, and that assignments paid from $600-$1200. One would assume that if you were promised one print ad, that you would be paid for it, therefore offsetting the cost to sign up. We quickly found out this was not the case.
We showed up for the photo shoot, at the Starbiz office no less, and our daughter was given an outfit to wear for the ad. Headshots were also to be taken, of which we were to receive 50 copies. The outfit was a horendous tie-dyed shirt and shorts that no parent in their right mind would dress their kids in. Pictures were taken and we were told they should be ready in 6-8 weeks. We were also told our daughter would be placed in the kids section of their website for marketing purposes. As of this writing, there are 53 pages of baby & toddler pictures, with 20 pictures per page. Count 'em folks, that's over 1000 kids! Bruce Romberg (Owner of Starbiz) standing next to his Mercedes taking photo's like he was going to catch us doing something wrong.
Here's the kicker. When we showed up for the photo shoot, we were expected to be paid for the assignment. When we inquired as to when we would be paid, they said you don't get paid for the first ad! That was so the child could gain experience as a model! We've been taking pictures of our daughter since the day she was born, she has plenty of experience! So we waited and waited and finally got the headshots near the end of June. The shots were fine, but they did not have any copies of the ad she was supposed to be in. Last week it came out. Turns out it was a full page ad for Starbiz with about 20 kids pictured. It looked like a page from a high school yearbook. There was a very small mention of the clothing line the kids were wearing, and you could barely see the clothes anyway as most shots printed were from the chest up. Makes sense though, would you pay a magazine (a free publication by the way) $500 for a full-color ad in order to make $13,700? I know I sure would! Bruce Romberg talking with a Scottsdale PD officer, trying to convince him to arrest anyone picketing.
At one point we called Bruce to complain that we felt we were misled, and he basically had no sympathy and even yelled at my wife over the phone! I hope that by sharing my experience, others will not fall for the same ploy. This man needs to be put out of business so that he can't do this to anyone else. I will be complaining to the radio station that aired (and continues to air) the ad. I will also be talking to the investigative reporter from the local TV station.
Buyer beware! You do not have to pay to get yourself or your kids into modeling. Go to a respected talent agency, and not the likes of Bruce Romberg and Starbiz Wilhemina.
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