• Report: #653529

Complaint Review: Hallmark Institute of Photography

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  • Submitted: Thu, October 21, 2010
  • Updated: Wed, September 21, 2011

  • Reported By: Ml — Hudson Ohio United States of America
Hallmark Institute of Photography
Turner Falls, Massachusetts United States of America

Hallmark Institute of Photography Think Twice Before Attending this Over Priced School-Unethical Tactics Lead by President George J. Rosa III Turner Falls, Massachusetts

*Consumer Comment: Crooks (((lots of links)))

*Author of original report: Look at the other Rip Off Reports on Hallmark

*General Comment: Worth It

*Author of original report: Hallmark is a Rip Off

*General Comment: Hallmark, good school.

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My son took out a private loan for $50k to attend this school in 2008. He was 18 and had never been away from home for more than a week. When we arrived at the School he was apprehensive about staying. Andy Vecellio, Admissions Director met with us and encourage him to stay promising him if after the first week he didn't like it he could leave and get a full refund. LIE #1 Andy also told him that he would help him and check in on him. 

To make a long story short, my son became depressed and homesick. He also had some very bad luck, hitting a coyote on the freeway in the pouring rain at 10pm, 10 miles from the school with no one to help him (fortunately we had emergency roadside assistance and the tow truck driver was able to drop my son off at his apartment after taking the car to a local dealership for repair). The school did a very poor job in helping young adults adjust to living alone, no counselors, only a housing person to help him find an apartment. There is no support system for students.

After 17 days my son left the school. He attended 8% of the school year and the School would keep $19,000. They would not refund the supplies fee of $7500, which was for the use of the schools cameras, printers, paper and ink- yet he was not there to use any of it! I wrote a letter to the President and Owner, George J Rosa III begging him to refund an additional $10k and charging my son for only the time he spent there and was denied.  Wanna know why......

It turns out Mr. Rosa is now being investigated for Fraud by the People's United Bank of Springfield (PUB) as he defaulted on a $2.2 mill loan for Hallmark. The bank got wind of a possible new buyer and seized the school and took over the sale of the school to a new owner. During the sales process the bank discovered Mr. Rosa was keeping 2 sets of books and had over stated the camera and equipment inventory by $1.9 mill. The $1.9 mill that Mr. Rosa documented as going for payments to equipment instead went to Mr. Rosa's personal debt and helped pay for his 2 homes, Mercedes Benz vehicles, a boat loan and a pricey private school for his children. Mr. Rosa filed for bankruptcy in 2009 to clear his debt. What is most surprising is that this man is still running Hallmark! For all the details go to..... 


Now I understand why Mr. Rosa would not refund my son's student loan money.....he needed it to pay his personal bills.  WOW, how sad and evil is that??? The lack of integrity in this school starts at the top with Mr. Rosa and trickles down through the administration.

THINK TWICE ABOUT THIS SCHOOL, it is over priced, cookie cutter education, one size fits all and you will be in huge debt for only a Certificate. Yes may leave with a nice portfolio but the school does nothing to help you find a job!

This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 10/21/2010 06:39 AM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Hallmark-Institute-of-Photography/Turner-Falls-Massachusetts-01376/Hallmark-Institute-of-Photography-Think-Twice-Before-Attending-this-Over-Priced-School-Un-653529. 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

Crooks (((lots of links)))

AUTHOR: Bruce818 - (United States of America)

Not only is George Rosa a crook, but the new owners of the school are just as bad. A lot of people lost their life savings and they havent gotten a penny back. One of the owners had a group buy the school for next to nothing so he could get his money back. Rosa is a thief, crook, robber, scum of the earth who cares nothing about the people he robbed including locals, companies and students. The new owners are just as bad for keeping him. They havent even given a dime back to all the people the school screwed. Please dont even think about going to this school, just think of all the people who lost their hard earned money from George Rosas wrong doings. If you think Im wrong, just read all these articles. Can all these individuals be wrong???






CLICK here to see why Rip-off Report, as a matter of policy, deleted either a phone number, link or e-mail address from this Report.
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#2 Author of original report

Look at the other Rip Off Reports on Hallmark

AUTHOR: Mlawlor - (USA)

Look at all the Rip Off Reports on Hallmark! Then after reading these do a google search, check on Yelp too. Do Not give them one penny! I do not even believe that is a student posting the postive feedback above, it's probably someone working in the sales department of admissions trying desperately to clean up the reputation so they can fill more seats.

Word has it that the number of students has dropped to 80 this year and they have laid off 5 instructors for the 2011-12 program.  Thank God people are doing their research!!  Good Luck to you!
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#3 General Comment

Worth It

AUTHOR: etwagner - (United States of America)

I do not support George at all. I too was very angry to learn of his actions.  It was an immensely poor decision by him that upsets me quite a bit, but I still know how much Hallmark did for me.

I also know many people who loved it.  I've seen first hand the amazing photography that comes out of that school. And I know a lot more than "18 days" about this school.

I've had the great opportunity to work with the iconic Gregory Heisler for 10 months, and many other great photographers and heard guest speakers who were worldly recognized and those who have worked for 'National Geographic' many many years. And created many networks that allow so many students the chance to move on to the best photography jobs in the world. That is priceless.  Whatever you want to believe is what you want to believe and I cannot change that, but I know how much Hallmark did for my photography.. and thats something you never gave Hallmark a chance to do.

The bottom line is that Hallmark did exactly what it was supposed to do. Gave me a chance to work with the best equipment, the best photographers and improved my photography immensely. It was worth the money and I could expect nothing more for that money.

Please keep in mind I spent the entire 10 month program with Hallmark.. your son only was there 18 days, you were at zero of those classes.  So I think I have the more objective opinion while yours remains subjective.

Anyone thinking of attending Hallmark who is serious about photography, do not let this poor review deter you from the best photography learning experience of your life.
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#4 Author of original report

Hallmark is a Rip Off

AUTHOR: Mlawlor - (United States of America)

Since my experience with Hallmark was posted online (not through Rip Off Reports but another site, yelp) I have received no less than 30 calls or emails from previous students and former instructors (employees) each telling me "Thank You and you are right about Hallmark, they sell you on your own passion for photography and make you believe that you will be the best but they really only want to get your money" Each person I have spoken to has told me their terrible situation and how much debt they have now. Some had dropped out early and others completed the course and felt it was in adequate. Some of the calls are people thinking of going to the school and decided to check into it a bit further.  Listen I am only trying to raise a flag here, you have to make your own decisions based on the information you have. So if you call me, I will gladly give you phone numbers and names of previous attendees and instructors to call to get their point of view as well. Do your research on this school before you apply or talk to them. Google Geroge Rosa, the president of the school who is being looked at for Fraud. Do some searches and I promise you, you will be able to find the dirt that exists on Hallmark and trust me there is a lot. No credible school would have these kinds of complaints! Here is one email I received from a young man named Ben a couple months ago;
"My mum does not have good credit and none of my friends nor relatives, understandably, would not co-sign any loans for me due to the fact that their 10-month program now costs upwards of $70,000. Lindsay, a Hallmark staff member who convinced me to go, led me to believe many things about the school and even made me feel good about myself leaving Colorado. I ended up leaving home with a vague guarantee that I would somehow be able to attend the school, but by the time I got there and had a chance to visit the school, there were problems on top of problems. Fortunately, I met a couple students who allowed me to stay with them while I was trying to figure out what to do since I was stuck out there. Long story short, after spending some time with some of the students and professors/teachers there, I realized the school's mentality surrounded profits. The professors kept a lot from the students and didn't help with what they promised which was connections and "industry-secrets" on how to succeed. And many of the students attending felt like they were there because they had the funds and had an "interest" in photography. Most of the students I met there had more motivation going towards partying and social gatherings than the actual curriculum. I ended up buying a car with what I had saved up and decided to drive to New York to live for a bit and that was a much better experience, I think, than going to that school! I'm now back in Colorado, trying to find a job so I can save up and go back to the city, where I hope to build my own studio and continue to take photos for a living; Rather than spend that money on an education/"certificate" that doesn't guarantee a career afterward."

Do you research and you will see what I am saying is the TRUTH!
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#5 General Comment

Hallmark, good school.

AUTHOR: etwagner - (United States of America)

I am a graduate of Hallmark Institute of Photography. This seems like more of an issue of the your child.. not the school.  The school is not responsible for babysitting your child. This is a superior photography school that is recognized as one of the best in the nation.. There job is to train you in photography, not about learning to live away from home. I lived far from the school and had never lived anywhere else than my home where I grew up; because of this my parents suggested that I live with roommates even though I originally wanted to live by my self because I am more of a shy person. My parents knew that living with people would help me to socialize with classmates and make friends quickly. This way I had people I could depend on if I were ever in a tight spot.

As for the money, I would think you wouldn't expect to get all your money back as you made a commitment to the school by saying you would attend. I like how Hallmark splits the money into four payments where if you leave at certain times of the year, you get so much of your money back. As for George, his actions shouldn't reflect poorly on the rest of the school. As it were his actions alone, not the schools. Hallmark as an amazing staff that is second to none and they stay late at the school to help students with their photography. I can't say enough about how great the staff is and how much my photography improved.

Hallmark is a serious school, and the thought of attending the school should not be taken lightly.  You have to know that Photography is what you want to do. I sincerely wish you would have urged your son to stay and experience one of the most amazing experiences of my life, in only 10 months. Working with amazing photographers would have worked for some of the most prestigious names and companies. No photography experience could ever be better than that of Hallmark.
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