If you have recently been "discovered" or scouted out by someone from TCT be very leary. If you have already attended the "open call" or are waiting for the call from a talent executive, you still have time to educate yourself like I did. This is my story of the last 7 days. Luckily, before I took the call this morning from the talent executive, my mother had E-mailed me tons of invaluable information regarding the "infamous" Lou Pearlman, letters from people who had been ripped off by TCT (Options Talent Group), articles, the unsatisfactory BBB report, etc...
As a 28 year old mother of an adorable 5 year old daughter that everyone I know, thinks she needs an agent, I was a little taken back last week when a woman approached my daughter and I in a local Best Buy store to ask if I would be interested in putting my daughter on T.V. She handed me a card that said "VP of new faces", so I thought she was the vice president of course & I was excited for my daughter and anxious to attend the audition which I know now is called an "open call". She then wrote my daughter's name on a list of other names (which made me a little skeptical at 1st because I wondered if she was just going around picking people to invite to this audition). We showed up on Saturday and were greeted by cordial people who all looked like they could be from a t.v. show or pop band. They took 3 pictures of my daughter and then urged myself to also fill out an application and have pictures taken so I did. I was so caught up in the glamour of it all at this point.
We sat through a ridiculous video that went into detail about how much $$ we could save if we chose TCT to display our comp cards on their website for only $19.95 a month and the video also made Lou Pearlman look like a God as if he's so great for starting bands like N-Sync, which I found out sued him because of a restricted contract. We were told comp cards could cost us $200 - $700.
After the video, we were all called into seperate rooms where we met with the woman speaker (I'll call her Eve), the scout who spotted my daughter who was typing in our measurments and a guy they said use to be in a boy band. The point where I started getting skeptical was when I tried talking to Eve about $$ and making payments if needed for the compcards. She avoided each question tactfully and even ignored me to listen to my daughter's noises she was making. She finally told me I could discuss it with the talent executive (who called me this morning).
I came home after the open call, excited and willing to pay up to $800 for pictures if needed but while reading through their brochure they handed me, I noted that TCT only conducted 1 interview per person per year so my decision would have to be quick even if I didn't have the $$. I thought, if I wanted to sign up with TCT, why couldn't I come back 2 months from now when I had the $$$? That was a big question for me. Then my mom sent me all the insider stuff on this company which you should also try to find. She was afraif it all might be a scan & she didn't want me or my daughter to get hurt.
I decided to do the 2nd interview this morning with the talent executive having all my questions ready & this is where it gets interesting!!! I wanted to see if I would be put through the same hard core sales tactics like I have read about. But most of all, I wanted to see if the talent exec would crack under pressure by some of the points I had to bring up.
I received a call 1st from someone who asked if I'd do the interview then I was transferred to Mercedes who, with the upmost of confidence as if she'd been there 10 years, proceeded to ask me little questions that had nothing to do with the interview like "How's the weather out there"? She was trying to butter me up & keep me interested, I could tell. She was suave & sneeky with some of her statements about how their company was so great & how some of their clients were Pepsi & Disney & listed about 10 others. She continued on how the "industry" was looking for someone like my daughter & that the time was now! After answering her questions about my daughter on whether or not she plays sports, dances, sings or if I would allow her to do bathing suits or adds wearing furs, she went on to tell me that my daughter rated a 10 out of a possible 10 (of course).
This whole rating process is really just a coye to get you more excited before they ask you for your credit card. Then she told me I could ask her any questions before she got to how I rated. My 1st question was how much! She said a one time fee of $795.00 & $19.95 a month for the website. I had previously read that it was only $595.00 to get started so I guess they must have raised their fees even higher! Then I said, ok, $795 for my daughter & $795 for me right. She agreed. Then, since I read about how TCT doesn't refund people $$ & people were getting screwed because the 3 day right cancel periods had passed, I then asked her if their was a policy? She said yes but gave me no additional info.
At this point, I began having to pull teeth to get answers out of her. She soon started to sound like a nieve little girl & who didn't know what to tell me. She even tried to evading my question by telling me about the additional little pictures I can post on the websire too at no additional cost. Yeah right! It says right in the brochure they handed me that it's an additional $75 to add 5 slots! Finally, I told her I heard the 3 day right to cancel period starts on the day of the open call (as per what I have read). She agreed. Then she put me on hold for 5 minutes to speak with her director. By this time, I had been put on hold 3 times just like what I read a couple days ago. They do this to make you think you are being approved.
When she came back, I could hear a man's voice talking softly in the back ground, directing her in what to tell me! Soon, she was telling me she apologized for any confusion but she was new! Oh really? Doesn't the position of a "talent executive" require you to know something simple as when the 3 day right to cancel begins? She later told me it actually starts on the day of our interview which was today! Then I told her that it sounded misleading & I told her that I was skeptical to begin with because of all the bad press I've been reading. This really caught her attention & she demanded I tell her what I've heard or read. After telling her, she proceeded to get a little cocky with me & tried to tell me how much Lour Pearlman has done etc... & repeated what clients they have like Pepsi, Disney & on & on, like she was reading from a "How to sale" list in front of her. I wasn't buying it for 1 minute. Soon, I was on hold again & when she came back, her director had instructed her to give my daughter & I a 2 for 1 deal, just $795 for the both of us & only $19.95 a month for both of us & that the 2 of us togehter on the website would be so great & if we didn't get work for 2 years, we could be on the website for free for life!
I asked her if she could send me anything in writing as to the right to cancel policy & their 2 for 1 deal but she put me on hold again after avoiding the question by telling me how great the deal was etc... Soon, I was talking to her director who repeated what she said, how great a deal it was & that the full $795 would be due today. I told him, but Mercedes told me you would do payments. Then he said they needed my credit card & if it was declined, they would then make payment arrangements with me. Mercedes came back on the line & apologized again for being so new. Yeah right. During this whol conversation, neither one of them volunterred telling me about their pay now or you can't interview again for 12 months policy so I brought it up.
Mercedes started getting her words mixed up. By this time, I was leading the conversation & she was the one lost in it. Then she had no choice but to get condescending with me & insisted that I give her my credit card # today for her to at least run it through & when I asked her why if I have no $$, she procedded to tell me this was how they determine which talents are truly dedicated & serious. I came right back & told her, it's not a question if I'm dedicated or serious because I am. What this has to do with is the fact that I don't have the funds right now. She still kept trying me to at least run my credit card but I told her I wasn't confortable doing that because if they did charge something to it I probably wouldn't be able to get it back because the 3 day right to cancel has already passed.
Then I was told by the director that I actually have until the 7th because it's 3 business days & weekends aren't included. I don't know if this is tur or not! But I stood my ground even though I do want to model as well as my daughter & can you believe, Mercedes had still not gone over the results of my open call with me. So I asked her to go over it with me (interested in what she'd tell me). She never did give me my results! She kept asking me endless questions about if I'd do swimsuit or sportswear, can I do an accent for her over the phone, what sports can I play, etc...
after about 5 minutes of this, I just told her that I didn't want to waiste anymore of her or my time as quite frankly, I don't have $795.00 today then she told me I couldn't interview for another 12 months then!
Then she said well, thank you for all of your time & said good luck out there & hung up!
Earlier in the conversation, I was able to find out from the director, that according to him, they scout $10,000 people per week or month, I can't recall now, but that because they scout so many people, they can't let anyone interview for another 12 months, so it's urgent you pay them at the 2nd interview. He & Mercedes both recited a paragraph from the brochure I was given which stated I must be prepared for this 2nd interview & make quick decisions.
Man, talk about pressure! Well, hopefully, this sheds some light on this "new" company & lets's you know that TCT is not the only opportunity or way to get into the industry. I think I will create my own website for agents to look at.
I'm fortunate enough to have been prepared before the "talent executive" called me this morning. I was treated exactlly the same way I have read about from so many ex-employees & people who were not refunded their $$ & I'm glad I did not fall for it & hope you will not either.
I thank my mother for making me aware & now I will be better prepared next time. Thank you for your time in reading this.
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