Beware of a not so model photoshoot

THE advert is depressingly familiar...

Wannabe models are being urged to attend a photoshoot at a hotel in Sheffield this weekend.

The firm, 1st Class Trading, wants anybody aged one to 75 to attend the Novotel to have their picture taken.

But the advert has no details of what is on offer, or costs - so Action Desk rang the firm direct.

Manager Darren Harvey said for 249 people would get a portfolio containing 10 pictures on CD, five prints, a modelling CV, a list of modelling agencies and an introductory letter. Mr Harvey was at great pains to stress his firm was not a modelling or employment agency.

He said: "It's very simple, we sell photos - a bit like Jessops, that's all we do."

Since April, it has been illegal for an agency to take up-front fees.

The new law came in after hundreds of people were ripped off at photoshoots where they were promised a refund if no work was found.

When none came and they demanded their money back, many were suddenly called by an agency and offered contracts - for a further fee.

Louise Field, aged 23, of Archer Road, Woodseats, Sheffield, was featured in Action Desk last September after paying 189 to Model Management UK to have six pictures taken - in 15 minutes - hoping it could lead to her big break.

But after seven weeks of silence she complained, only to be contacted by the Hidden Talent agency which demanded a further 150. Both firms are now in liquidation.

1st Class - which is not related to Model Management UK - is being investigated by the Employment Agency Standards (EAS) Inspectorate and the Advertising Standards Authority.

An EAS Inspectorate spokesman said: "We'd urge anyone who has had a bad experience with an agency to call the EAS helpline on 0845 955 5105. Every complaint received by the Inspectorate is treated in confidence."

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