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  • FIRST POST
    • jackielim
    • By jackielim 30th Aug 17, 8:54 PM
    • 14Posts
    • 18Thanks
    jackielim
    Modelling agency warning (First Step Modelling / Distinctive Model Advice)
    • #1
    • 30th Aug 17, 8:54 PM
    Modelling agency warning (First Step Modelling / Distinctive Model Advice) 30th Aug 17 at 8:54 PM
    Hey all,

    Just a warning regarding modelling agency First Step Modelling.

    In my case, they dangled a "modelling job" and say that professional photos need to be taken to apply for the job. The photoshoot cost from £290, and afterwards, they said that the photos cannot be used unless retouched and it cost £350 (£35 per photo, and they said they must have 10 photos). I felt very pressurised to make these purchases as they said I need to decide immediately or the modelling job will be gone. They also said I was 100% guaranteed for the job, which never happened.

    Unfortunately I had to learn the hard way and have lost the money. So I am here to warn anyone who is new on the modelling scene.

    I did further research on First Step Modelling and found out that:
    (a) Southwest Studios (where FSM said would be a professional studio for doing a retouching) and Hyde Park Studios (where FSM said would be the professional photoshoot studio) seemed like it was connected to the FSM operation because the owner of both domains is the same person who owned the First Step Modelling domain.

    (b) FSM is not registered with Companies House. The organisation registered at the same address (text removed by MSE Forum Team) is VenusLondon, and they used to be registered at (text removed by MSE Forum Team). I then learned that there were many so called modelling agencies/support organisations, e.g. Dio Models, Nexus Models, Fashion Mode London, and now Distinctive Modelling Advice, which had their address at (text removed by MSE Forum Team).

    (c) In addition, I have google imaged on their images on their web sites, and found out that they have taken those images from other web sites or stock photos.

    Personally, I feel that "agencies" or "modelling advice" organisations that are resident at the above addresses should be approached with caution. You should also keep checking Venus London's companies house file to see if they have moved address again, and then check whether an agency that has gotten in touch with you is resident at that address.

    No reputable agency will charge you money in order to get a job. So please be aware, and never part with your money. Google BBC newsbeat article on modelling {text removed by MSE Investigator}.

    I have learned a hard lesson, and just want to warn those new on the modelling scene to be aware. In summary:
    1. If they are trying to get you to buy photos, say no. If a person is truly a good person, they would not be pressurising you as well to part with your money.
    2. Check whether images on their web sites are genuine via Google Image
    3. Check whether they are registered on Companies House, and whether there are other "modelling agencies" in the past that have had the same residency
    4. Check carefully their testimonials and reviews, as many positive reviews may not necessarily be genuine
    5. Be wary of Gumtree posters that advertise/promise modelling jobs (I learned about their open casting on Gumtree)

    NOTE - update 4th Sept - FSM has contacted me. Please see my post below.
    NOTE - update 12 Oct - FSM tried to pull down my review from TrustPilot again - this time claiming I am not a genuine customer.
    NOTE - updates 12 Oct:
    (a) thank you Clive Hurst for reporting FSM's misleading Gumtree ad to Advertising Standards Agency
    (b) thank you Mirror for investigating and reporting First Step Modelling and Distinctive Models Advice. The title of the Mirror article is "Gushing compliments, promises of riches, and then the hard sell !!!8211; what happens at a !!!8220;no fees!!!8221; model photo shoot" and it was written by Andrew Penn.
    (c) I have submitted my own complaint to ASA on FSM, and will update when I hear from ASA.
    NOTE - update 16 Oct: communications with FSM for evidence regarding authenticity of job advertisement, otherwise to refund the money for photoshoot and retouched services - FSM agreed to refund the money and has done so.
    (d) Report on how ASA dealt with my complaint on FSM has been summarised and posted - see post on 18 January 2018.

    All the best.
    Last edited by jackielim; 18-01-2018 at 8:22 AM. Reason: ASA Update
Page 3
    • Cornucopia
    • By Cornucopia 1st Oct 17, 7:30 PM
    • 9,750 Posts
    • 9,500 Thanks
    Cornucopia
    They will not be registered at Companies House if they are not a registered company.

    They could be a partnership or a sole trader, neither of these would be registered at Companies House.
    Originally posted by sheramber
    All UK traders MUST identify themselves accurately on various articles of business documentation and advertising to customers - that includes websites.

    Typically, businesses identify themselves on their websites either at the foot of the home page, or within an "About" or "Contact" page, but this company does not do that.

    Like I said, they could refute the allegation that they are breaking the law on the transparency of their identity by showing us where the required info is. Coincidentally, that's what the OP needs to begin a money claim case.

    With hindsight and some background knowledge, I can spot a number of warning signs about their website. Again, they could ask MSE for a right of reply to these issues, and do not need to know who I am to address them:-

    1. The only identifying info I can find is this, from the Ts & Cs: "First Step Modelling is a website operated by South-West Studios. Registered in England and Wales. Our registered office is 26 Old Brompton Road, London SW7 3DL". The only "South-West Studios" on Companies House was dissolved in 2012, and the phrase "Registered in England & Wales" ought to be accompanied by a company or charity number.

    2. The map on the Contact Page has no location shown for either First Step Modelling or South-West Studios. Strange, no? There is a clue that 28 Old Brompton Road is shown as "Mailboxes Etc.". 26 OBR relates to offices above a Health Food shop.

    3. The application form has a tick box confirmation that "I understand First Step Modelling is not an agency". Okay, so what is it? I haven't been able to find a definitive answer to that on the site, which again, is strange.

    4. Within the section "Who we are", the first sub-section is titled "THE ROLE OF A MODEL AGENCY", which can only be intended to confuse people as to the role of FSM.

    5. There are various typos in the text of the website, some of them quite prominent. (For example, the second headline on the Male Modelling page says this: "Want to become a male modelling !, register with us today"[sic]).

    OTOH, their copyright notice is invalid...
    Last edited by Cornucopia; 01-10-2017 at 9:33 PM.
    I'm a Board Guide on the Phones & TV, Techie Stuff, In My Home,
    The Money Savers Arms and Food Shopping boards. I'm a volunteer to help the boards run smoothly, and I can move and merge threads there. Any views (especially those on the UK TV Licence) are mine and not the official line of moneysavingexpert.com.

    Board guides are not moderators. If you spot an inappropriate or illegal post then please report it to forumteam@moneysavingexpert.com
    • jackielim
    • By jackielim 12th Oct 17, 11:21 PM
    • 14 Posts
    • 18 Thanks
    jackielim
    How can they respond to your claims without knowing who you are?

    How can they refute your claims without being able check your records?
    Originally posted by sheramber
    They know exactly who I am and what I said in my reviews.... if they didn't, they would not have been able to directly email me regarding the reviews.
    • jackielim
    • By jackielim 12th Oct 17, 11:29 PM
    • 14 Posts
    • 18 Thanks
    jackielim
    FSM has tried to take down my review again on TrustPilot - they have reported my review to TrustPilot for the second time, this time with the reason that I am not a genuine customer.

    I have emailed TrustPilot my correspondence with FSM e.g. when they tried to intimidate me to delete my review, when they emailed me about the job, when they emailed me the retouched photos, etc.

    I hope all of this is sufficient evidence that I had the (unfortunate) genuine experience of their business.

    How many times can FSM try to pull down my review? If they can do this unlimited times with unlimited fabricated reasons, then I think this is truly unfair. In addition, why hasn't TrustPilot taken steps to ensure that the so-called 5 star reviews are genuine?

    And seems like I am not the only one whose negative review they are trying to take down now :/

    Also, looking at their web site, it seems that they have made many updates (some have already been described by Cornucopia e.g. the tickbox saying they are not an agency). I think this is at least partially thanks to Clive Hurst whose ASA report against them was upheld (google search first step modelling ASA). I am glad that his report contained their Gumtree ad promising paid modelling jobs, as the one which I had responded to was deleted.
    Last edited by jackielim; 12-10-2017 at 11:45 PM. Reason: Update
    • Cornucopia
    • By Cornucopia 13th Oct 17, 12:04 AM
    • 9,750 Posts
    • 9,500 Thanks
    Cornucopia
    https://www.asa.org.uk/rulings/first-step-modelling-a17-389797.html
    I'm a Board Guide on the Phones & TV, Techie Stuff, In My Home,
    The Money Savers Arms and Food Shopping boards. I'm a volunteer to help the boards run smoothly, and I can move and merge threads there. Any views (especially those on the UK TV Licence) are mine and not the official line of moneysavingexpert.com.

    Board guides are not moderators. If you spot an inappropriate or illegal post then please report it to forumteam@moneysavingexpert.com
    • jackielim
    • By jackielim 13th Oct 17, 1:23 AM
    • 14 Posts
    • 18 Thanks
    jackielim
    On top of Clive Hurst's report, Andrew Penman from the Mirror has reported on First Step Modelling, and all the organisations linked to them e.g. Hyde Park Studios, South West Studios and Distinctive Model Advice.

    The title of the article is "Gushing compliments, promises of riches, and then the hard sell – what happens at a “no fees” model photo shoot."

    I can't post the URL, so google for the article if you are interested - here are some snippets:

    The Inspectorate responded by saying it regulates employment agencies, but fake companies that purport to be agencies do not come under its remit.

    First Step Modelling is part of an opaque web of outfits. It claims on its website to be operated by SouthWest Studios – “registered in England and Wales” – but there’s no such name to be found at Companies House.

    It shares an address near Paddington in north London with another operation, Hyde Park Studios, which claims: “Our team of experts have worked with some of the biggest names in the fashion industry.”

    This uses the same phone number as another website, Distinctive Models.

    Its website, which is less than a year old, states: “We have more than 13 years of experience in supporting new faces to enter the modelling industry.”


    Also, it seems that "Sami Sean" - the domain owners of the websites of the linked organisations - could very well be Sayanthan Sritharan himself, the director of VenusLondon, as the article says that he is known as Sami.

    The review of Coran Elliott on her experience of FSM (or Distinctive Models) is extremely similar to mine, it's pretty distressful reading about it.
    Last edited by jackielim; 13-10-2017 at 1:26 AM. Reason: formatting error
    • Computersaysno
    • By Computersaysno 13th Oct 17, 9:11 AM
    • 891 Posts
    • 671 Thanks
    Computersaysno

    The Inspectorate responded by saying it regulates employment agencies, but fake companies that purport to be agencies do not come under its remit.
    Originally posted by jackielim
    And there's the real issue...these scum could be stopped so much easier if the Inspectorate chose to tackle them....but they don't [it's too much effort I guess]
    Welcome to the world of 'Protect the brand at the cost of free speech'
    • Cornucopia
    • By Cornucopia 13th Oct 17, 9:59 AM
    • 9,750 Posts
    • 9,500 Thanks
    Cornucopia
    The title of the article is "Gushing compliments, promises of riches, and then the hard sell !!!8211; what happens at a !!!8220;no fees!!!8221; model photo shoot."

    I can't post the URL, so google for the article if you are interested - here are some snippets:
    Originally posted by jackielim
    http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/gushing-compliments-promises-riches-hard-11325815

    And there's the real issue...these scum could be stopped so much easier if the Inspectorate chose to tackle them....but they don't [it's too much effort I guess]
    Originally posted by Computersaysno
    There really needs to be a regulator for those businesses that fall between the cracks of other regulators. It's far too easy {text removed by MSE Investigator} to come up with "creative" ideas for bypassing the intent of legal regulations that are there to protect consumers and ensure fair play between rival companies.

    Action Fraud seems to me to be overwhelmed by the vast amount of fraud that afflicts the UK, and it really needs to be split into two organisations: one to tackle criminal fraud, and the other to tackle corporate fraud against consumers (which is where I would place FSM, subject to confirmation of the claims made against them).

    The ASA judgment is well-intentioned, and undoubtedly fair, but they lack any powers outside of a self-regulatory ability to influence advertising material. Having said that, it should be easy to pick up the wording from the complaint and re-purpose it based on the content from their website.
    Last edited by MSE Investigator; 14-11-2017 at 9:16 AM.
    I'm a Board Guide on the Phones & TV, Techie Stuff, In My Home,
    The Money Savers Arms and Food Shopping boards. I'm a volunteer to help the boards run smoothly, and I can move and merge threads there. Any views (especially those on the UK TV Licence) are mine and not the official line of moneysavingexpert.com.

    Board guides are not moderators. If you spot an inappropriate or illegal post then please report it to forumteam@moneysavingexpert.com
    • jackielim
    • By jackielim 16th Oct 17, 10:09 PM
    • 14 Posts
    • 18 Thanks
    jackielim
    Hi all,

    Here is an update - after finding out about the Mirror article, I sent an email to FSM saying the following:

    "I am emailing regarding the job advert (see the Iconoclast advert I posted a while back) - you mentioned that I would need to do the photoshoot and retouched photos in order to apply for the job, which was I did.

    I would like you to please provide evidence that the job is an authentic job advertisement, and also evidence that you had applied for the job.

    If this is not the case, please refund my £290 (photoshoot) and £350 (retouched services) asap, or I will have to contact the Financial Conduct Authority."


    FSM then responded saying that the advert was from the Casting Collective web site, and that the Director had a chat with Angelina (the person who promised me the job, and also the FSM rep mentioned in the Mirror article) and will refund me. Initially they said to come to their office for the refund and to return the photos. However, I said to them that I have had a negative experience of FSM and suggested a bank transfer and an online transfer of the photos.

    They agreed and I am pleased to say that they have refunded me the £640.

    Guess which bank account it came from? Yep, VenusLondon. I guess Mr Director is "Sammy" himself.

    They wrote an email saying this:
    It was very big mistake what the previous manager made.

    You have to help us out to remove all the bad reviews. It will effect director!!!8217;s personal life and the business.

    I would like to hear from you.


    Unfortunately I won't be taking off my negative reviews because this refund did not negate the experience I had. I won't be helping them delete any other negative reviews because what they are doing now does not erase the past. However, I am updating this thread with this good news to at least say that I have the money bank.

    {Text removed by MSE Investigator} perhaps this is time to get back in touch with them for your refund.
    Last edited by MSE Investigator; 14-11-2017 at 9:17 AM.
    • hollydays
    • By hollydays 16th Oct 17, 11:50 PM
    • 15,875 Posts
    • 11,871 Thanks
    hollydays
    Hi all,

    Here is an update - after finding out about the Mirror article, I sent an email to FSM saying the following:

    "I am emailing regarding the job advert (see the Iconoclast advert I posted a while back) - you mentioned that I would need to do the photoshoot and retouched photos in order to apply for the job, which was I did.

    I would like you to please provide evidence that the job is an authentic job advertisement, and also evidence that you had applied for the job.

    If this is not the case, please refund my £290 (photoshoot) and £350 (retouched services) asap, or I will have to contact the Financial Conduct Authority."


    FSM then responded saying that the advert was from the Casting Collective web site, and that the Director had a chat with Angelina (the person who promised me the job, and also the FSM rep mentioned in the Mirror article) and will refund me. Initially they said to come to their office for the refund and to return the photos. However, I said to them that I have had a negative experience of FSM and suggested a bank transfer and an online transfer of the photos.

    They agreed and I am pleased to say that they have refunded me the £640.

    Guess which bank account it came from? Yep, VenusLondon. I guess Mr Director is "Sammy" himself.

    They wrote an email saying this:
    It was very big mistake what the previous manager made.

    You have to help us out to remove all the bad reviews. It will effect director!!!8217;s personal life and the business.

    I would like to hear from you.


    Unfortunately I won't be taking off my negative reviews because this refund did not negate the experience I had. I won't be helping them delete any other negative reviews because what they are doing now does not erase the past. However, I am updating this thread with this good news to at least say that I have the money bank.

    {Text removed by MSE Investigator}
    Originally posted by jackielim
    Well done.
    Casting collective has a Facebook page.
    Perhaps you should inform them about this !!!8220; company!!!8217;s!!!8221; activities.

    Where does !!!8216; iconoclast!!!8217; come into it; who or what are they?
    Particularly bad grammar and spelling in their reply. Not unlike jeff9ruls eg post#24
    Actually I!!!8217;ve spent some time browsing distinctive models website-I can!!!8217;t believe how BAD it is
    Last edited by MSE Investigator; 14-11-2017 at 9:18 AM.
    • hollydays
    • By hollydays 17th Oct 17, 1:46 AM
    • 15,875 Posts
    • 11,871 Thanks
    hollydays
    www.distinctivemodels.co.uk
    omg the photos.....woman there in a Basque looks about 80..

    Looks like it!!!8217;s been written by a confused google translate for example
    !!!8220;Child modeling agencies like to see a portfolio of the child, because it allows them to assess how photogenic without the need for a specific test photo shoot, but keep in mind that your child should have the right time for this crane!!!8221;

    Many buttons marked
    !!!8220; Regsiter now!!!8221;

    Then there!!!8217;s :!!!8221;Profit
    Printed portfolio allows the administrator or agent threw in an interview visit his picture book that the operation or campaign looking models speak. This gives the impression that you are serious about modeling and show that you have experience as a professional model.!!!8221;

    I can only say- very badly educated people with a !!!8220; twisted!!!8221;understanding of what the United Kingdom culture finds acceptable. That's me being subtle..
    Last edited by hollydays; 17-10-2017 at 8:47 PM.
    • jackielim
    • By jackielim 17th Oct 17, 1:25 PM
    • 14 Posts
    • 18 Thanks
    jackielim
    Well done.
    Casting collective has a Facebook page.
    Perhaps you should inform them about this !!!8220; company!!!8217;s!!!8221; activities.

    Where does !!!8216; iconoclast!!!8217; come into it; who or what are they?
    Originally posted by hollydays
    Thanks - please see below a quote from one of my older posts regarding the job ad.

    The job ad was purportedly for Iconoclast shooting summer catalogue photos for FREEMANS, JACAMO, LOOK AGAIN, PREMIER MAN. Seems like they keep reusing the same wording for job ads, as the Mirror investigator was shown a job ad for Jacamo paying £1,200.


    //Job Advertisement via First Step Modelling//

    Summer Catalogue

    Company: Iconoclast
    Catalogue : FREEMANS, JACAMO, LOOK AGAIN, PREMIER MAN
    Production Type: Online
    Location: Central London
    Salary: £1200
    Duration: 9th - 11th June
    Closing Date: 05/06/17
    Restrictions: Aged from 18 to 45
    Production Details: We are shooting a series of films for the Spring/Summer Catalogues. These will be used on their websites, as well as in-store to promote their seasonal clothing.
    Casting will take place beginning of June, with the shoot taking place on the 9th and 11th June, all in central London.

    The rate of £1200 will cover three days shooting, and include usage for 18 months in-store and online worldwide.

    The films will be comical and whimsical, with a very refined sense of style, and display the occasion wear and gifting offered during the summer season. Two will be produced, each 30 seconds in length.

    Select a character
    Fashion Models to represent clothing brands
    Description: Male and Female, 18-45
    Gender: Both
    Min Age: 18
    Max Age: 45

    //End of Job Advert//
    Originally posted by jackielim
    • hollydays
    • By hollydays 17th Oct 17, 8:24 PM
    • 15,875 Posts
    • 11,871 Thanks
    hollydays
    Jackie lim I think you are amazing
    I would love to see you keep this thread alive , this is what really hurts these people. We!!!8217;ve seen companies get VERY upset at threads on mse-we!!!8217;ve been threatened a few times when exposing HORRIBLE companies
    Reporting of the facts and EXPOSING them to,their respectable little communities is what counts.
    You have got your money back-you are clearly not someone to be messed with but if you could continue to keep this thread alive - that will be what destroys these!!!8217; people!!!8217;
    • hollydays
    • By hollydays 17th Oct 17, 8:27 PM
    • 15,875 Posts
    • 11,871 Thanks
    hollydays
    I suggest you put a watch on the director on companies house webcheck
    • jackielim
    • By jackielim 18th Jan 18, 8:04 AM
    • 14 Posts
    • 18 Thanks
    jackielim
    As mentioned in my earlier post, I submitted a complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority on First Step Modelling. Below is a brief summary of what has happened since then - I have to summarise the responses between myself and the ASA, as it is already a lengthy post, but I welcome any requests for further information.

    1. 13 Oct 2017 - Complaint submitted to the ASA
    Here is a brief summary of the complaint:
    a) False information on their business: FSM said they are a registered company and operated by South West Studios. The fact is that FSM is not registered with Companies House and SW Studios is a company that dissolved in 2012.
    b) Role of FSM is confusing - although they claim not to be a modelling agency, in their Who We Are section, they had a subsection on the role of a modelling agency which is discussed at length.
    c) Their claims of being the "UK Leading Modelling Platform" and "helped thousands of aspiring models launch their careers to become a model" are unsubstantiated.
    d) They offer photoshoot services (called "portfolio services") yet they use stock images on their web site instead of their own, which could mislead the public regarding the quality of the photoshoot services they offer.

    "Complaint received conformation" and "ASA - Complaint Acknowledgement" e-mails were received on the same day.

    2. 24 October 2017 - First response from ASA to understand any competitive interest in the outcome of my complaint; if not a competitor, the ASA wanted to understand whether there was any particular experience or interest that had led to my belief that the claim was misleading. I had until 27 October to respond.

    Easy enough to respond: not a competitor, and have had direct customer experience with First Step Modelling where they acted as a modelling agency (promising me a job) however saying I needed to purchase their porfolio service in order to apply for the job. I also provided a link to the Mirror investigation of FSM which mirrored my experience.

    ASA then responded on 27 October thanking me for the extra information. They also said that the "leading claim" has been removed from the web site so they will not be pursuing this.

    3. 18 December 2017 - ASA updated me on the letter they are writing to FSM

    ASA responded saying they have a policy which limits them to investigate a maximum of three points in most cases. They said they have written to South West Studios trading as FSM with regards to the following three points:
    1. “UK LEADING MODELLING PLATFORM”
    2. “First Step Modelling has helped thousands of aspiring models launch their careers to
    become a model”; and
    3. “THE ROLE OF A MODEL AGENCY”
    Investigated under CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.7
    (Substantiation) and 3.33 (Comparisons with identifiable competitors).

    4. 19 December 2017 - My response to ASA regarding First Step Modelling / South West Studios / Venus London

    I asked ASA how they acquired the information that the organisation is South West Studios trading as FSM, and repeated what I had told them in my original complaint: that SW Studios dissolved in 2012. I stressed that this is important because false information could mean that a customer who had been missold a product would not be able to sue a business that is legally/technically non-existent.

    I also told them that Venus London was the actual organisation operating behind the scenes, and re-sent the link to the Mirror article.

    5. 2 January 2018 - ASA responds to me + response from FSM to ASA

    ASA said they have received a response from FSM. FSM confirmed they are Venus London trading as South West London. Their web site information is now consistent with Companies House.

    FSM provided ASA with assurance that they would amend their website, including removing the disputed claims, so that their website is made sufficiently clear that they were offering a photography service and not misleadingly suggest that they were a modelling agency. Moving forward, FSM provided their assurance that they would make all the necessary changes.

    ASA confirmed that these claims have been removed, but they had advised the advertiser that further changes might be needed.

    Due to FSM’s assurances, ASA decided that the complaint will be resolved without referring the matter to the ASA Council, and they will be consequently closing the file without holding a formal investigation. In a formal investigation, if the ASA Council decides that an ad is in breach of the Code, the advertisers are told to withdraw or amend it. Because Venus London had already assured them that they will make amendments, they believed there is little to be gained from continuing with a formal investigation, which would achieve that same outcome.

    ASA said if I still wasn't satisfied with the changes FSM made after two weeks, I will need to resubmit the complaint.

    6. 4 Jan 2018 - My response to ASA regarding the use of stock images instead of the company's own photos, despite offering photography services

    I brought up the point of using stock images again to the ASA as I believed it would mislead the public regarding the quality of FSM's photoshoot services if they use stock images on their web site (I would know from personal experience!).

    They responded four days later saying they had asked FSM that they remove the stock image on their porfolio service page and ensured that their advertising did not misleadingly suggest that any stock images were photographs they had personally taken.

    7. So what's the outcome? + Thoughts on the ASA

    To check whether any changes have been made due to the ASA complaint, I had a look at FSM's web site today with regards to the 5 points I initially raised:
    a. Business information - this has been rectified to correctly say they are Venus London

    b. Role of FSM confusing (are they a modelling agency?) - the subsection on the role of the modelling agency has been removed, and they have made it clear on their page that they are not a modelling agency, but a model support agency

    c. Unsubstantiated claims of being "leading UK Leading Modelling Platform" and "helped thousands of aspiring models launch their careers to become a model" - this has been changed to "First Step Modelling Platform" and "With years experience within the industry First Step Modelling has helped aspiring models launch their careers."

    d. Stock images used on their web site which could mislead customers regarding the quality of their photoshoot services - not much change here!! not even in their portfolio service section.

    So thoughts on ASA.... personally waiting two months for a response is a bit long, but if this length of time is to be expected, then it's all the more important for us to report misleading advertisements as soon as possible. Overall, I felt they achieved most of the outcomes I felt was important. However I was disappointed that they failed to catch on that the business information was incorrect (even though it was clearly stated in the complaint) and still referred to FSM as SW Studios. I was however pleased that they took onboard feedback, although their advice to FSM on the stock images had no impact.

    I think their policy on focusing their investigation on three points could be problematic. This policy would be great as a guideline, however, each case should be assessed on a case-by-case basis. In addition, I find it worrying that should the complainer be dissatisfied with the advertiser's changes (or lack of), they will need to re-submit the complaint.... and potentially wait another two months before getting a response from the ASA! I believe ASA should NOT rely only on assurances from the advertiser. They themselves should inspect whether the advertiser had fulfilled what they had promised, instead of being content with assurances and then leaving it to the complainer to assess and potentially re-submit the complaint.

    ---

    The intention on this post is to update on the ASA complaint, but also to helpfully (I hope!) inform those who are considering submitting a complaint with the ASA regarding similar cases.
    Last edited by jackielim; 18-01-2018 at 8:19 AM.
    • Computersaysno
    • By Computersaysno 18th Jan 18, 9:10 AM
    • 891 Posts
    • 671 Thanks
    Computersaysno
    The ASA are as much use as a chocolate fireguard.


    They are toothless.......totally toothless.


    The most they can do is
    1. Publish the ruling...woohoo, big deal!!!
    2. Ask newspapers etc to refuse the advert again.


    What they need is the power to tell publishers etc not to accept any further adverts OF A SIMILAR NATURE and to be able to set down =rules for what companies MUST PROVIDE TO PUBLISHERS before they can get an advert published.


    But lets face it...most of these scammers are using wither social media or t'interweb for their scamming adverts.


    To summarise....the ASA are a waste of time.
    Welcome to the world of 'Protect the brand at the cost of free speech'
    • hollydays
    • By hollydays 18th Jan 18, 11:07 AM
    • 15,875 Posts
    • 11,871 Thanks
    hollydays
    You could post the link to the asa complaint also it all help people who may search for information
    • Cornucopia
    • By Cornucopia 18th Jan 18, 1:04 PM
    • 9,750 Posts
    • 9,500 Thanks
    Cornucopia
    Well done for pursuing this with the ASA. The thing about the UK's regulators is that they may not be particularly great, but they are the only ones we have. So any complaint goes to them or not at all.

    There is a persistent problem that I have seen across various regulators including the ASA that where there is the possibility of choosing between a badly run company and a fraudulent one, they go out of their way to go with the former, despite good evidence for the latter.

    In the case of these "modelling support agencies" there is also the question of whether (a) the service is ever necessary (i.e. would it ever be chosen by someone apprised of all the facts), and (b) whether all/most of their "customers" are only customers because they have been deceived.

    I think we can probably judge the answer to (a) as yes, based on adverse comments from industry experts, and (b) as unknown, although it is possibly something that the ASA could have taken a view on.
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    • Computersaysno
    • By Computersaysno 18th Jan 18, 1:18 PM
    • 891 Posts
    • 671 Thanks
    Computersaysno
    You could post the link to the asa complaint also it all help people who may search for information
    Originally posted by hollydays
    I would respectfully suggest that any such link or post would be pointless.....


    There are already thousands of pages and posts and even dedicated websites out there telling people that these companies and their ilk are 99.99999% scammers....


    The sad truth is that the sort of people who fall for these scams usually choose to 'be blind to the truth'


    They kind of deep down know it's probably a scam but they really, really want to believe it's not....


    So they don't go looking for advice or evidence BEFORE parting with their cash.


    A simple google tells people everything they would ever need to know about these shysters....
    Welcome to the world of 'Protect the brand at the cost of free speech'
    • jackielim
    • By jackielim 18th Jan 18, 1:34 PM
    • 14 Posts
    • 18 Thanks
    jackielim
    You could post the link to the asa complaint also it all help people who may search for information
    Originally posted by hollydays
    I don't think I am able to post any links yet, however, for those interested, the ruling is published on 10 January under "Informally Resolved".

    I just saw it actually, and I find it problematic (plus disappointing) primarily because ASA decided to list the advertiser as Venuslondon Ltd trading as South West Studios, with NO mention of First Step Modelling, when the advertisement and misleading claims were found on the FSM web site. Wow. The nature of the complaint was not described as well, which is disappointing.

    I have e-mailed them about the ffirst part (ie lack of mention of FSM); I hope they can make the changes, listing FSM either in the advertiser field or the web site field.
    • jackielim
    • By jackielim 18th Jan 18, 1:47 PM
    • 14 Posts
    • 18 Thanks
    jackielim
    Well done for pursuing this with the ASA. The thing about the UK's regulators is that they may not be particularly great, but they are the only ones we have. So any complaint goes to them or not at all.

    There is a persistent problem that I have seen across various regulators including the ASA that where there is the possibility of choosing between a badly run company and a fraudulent one, they go out of their way to go with the former, despite good evidence for the latter.

    In the case of these "modelling support agencies" there is also the question of whether (a) the service is ever necessary (i.e. would it ever be chosen by someone apprised of all the facts), and (b) whether all/most of their "customers" are only customers because they have been deceived.

    I think we can probably judge the answer to (a) as yes, based on adverse comments from industry experts, and (b) as unknown, although it is possibly something that the ASA could have taken a view on.
    Originally posted by Cornucopia
    I see what you mean..... I certainly agree that it's better to have the ASA vs not having any regulator at all, even if they can be "toothless" as Computersaysno described.

    I like the idea of making life difficult for scammers even if it's almost impossible to get them penalised in some way by regulators.

    Admittedly, this is not the best strategy in the world, but i hate the thought of scammers continuing their scams without any objection / intervention. Even if it's just them feeling panicky receiving communications from a regulator and then making the necessary changes, I think that's better than nothing/.

    It is an interesting phenomenon how some scammers seem to appear to be sensitive to public perception. I hope the internet will continue to be a platform where everyone can feel empowered to say the truth of their experiences. Clearly idealistic - what with fake reviews and all - but way better than suffering in silence / helplessness.
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