If you dream of your child becoming the next Miley Cyrus, there's more than one reason to beware: That radio ad you just heard might cost you $1,000.
On at least three separate occasions, The (pronounced "Tay"), a talent scouting company ostensibly geared toward helping parents take their children from St. Louis' Broadway to the other one, has hit the area with less than five-star results. The, another name for New York Studio, Inc., has instead left locals with thousand-dollar holes in their wallets after confusion and some fine print, according to the Better Business Bureau.
The New York Studio promises appointments for children to meet with talent scouts for free, the BBB says. And that part is true. This weekend, the company will host its services at the Renaissance St. Louis Grand Hotel on Washington.
After that, though, things get tricky. Past participants have subsequently spent thousands of dollars to help their children advance to another stage at a different location. When the project devolves, they are hit with the news that $1,000 of the money they dropped cannot be refunded.
Chris Thetford, vice president of communications for the Better Business Bureau, told Daily RFT that the company attracts children and their parents through a set of Disney-focused radio ads. "It's a red flag when you hear an ad naming other celebrities your child could become," Thetford says. "They say things like, 'Is your child the next Miley Cyrus?' Those are enticements." The company is in no way associated with Disney.
Thetford advises parents to be wary of the idea behind the ads and services. Although the Better Business Bureau has released three press releases about New York Studio's business procedures, the company continues to return to the city.
"Everybody wants to believe that their child or grandchild is going to be a star, but this is a competitive industry, and paying for a seminar might not be the best way to help them do that," Thetford says. "It's not true. People need to be really careful about any requests they get for up-front payment for registration, etc. If you pay anything up front, you need to make sure to have some sort of guarantee."