Troubleshooter: Agency not paying models

DURHAM They're the kind of models you see in stores pushing products and also promoting products at events. They all say they did the work, but didn't get paid.

The jobs are fun, simple, and pretty good pay for a day's work. Carah Herring was supposed to get paid $180.00 after a gig for Promo Models.

They're a San Diego-based agency that finds promotional models for clients across the country. These models work trade shows, and hand out samples at stores. Carah Herring says, "I had no reservations about doing the job."

Sarah Tuohey also got a call from Promo Models. She says, "She called me the day before the event and said can we please book you. We'd love to get you out there for the event." According to the contract, both girls would get $20.00 an hour to promote a new product at a local drug store.

Both have pictures of their events. After an event, models are supposed to be paid promptly within 90 days, but that didn't happen. Sarah adds, "In August I was calling and leaving voicemails and they weren't being returned and that's when I realized I had a problem."

Sarah and Carah aren't alone. We worked with our ABC affiliate in San Diego, and they found twenty models nationwide that say they've been short-changed too. Sarah adds, " My blood is boiling, it makes me so mad."

Especially since Sarah keeps getting help wanted ads from Promo Models. Carah was so fed up about getting no calls returned, that she e-mailed pretending to be a client that needed models, and says she got a reply within days. She adds, "I just found that odd that they can respond to me if I'm willing to spend money but not if I need to be paid."

When the San Diego station tried to track down the owner of Promo Models, Lucas Beddows, they found an empty office and a PO Box full of unopened mail. Beddows wasn't at his beach house, but eventually his attorney issued a statement which says in part due to the economic downturn, Promo Models experienced financial difficulties which included various clients defaulting on their payment. In an effort to pay its outsourced contractors, Promo Models took out loans, rather than closing up shop and declaring bankruptcy.

Read the full statement from Promo Models.

The statement for Promo Models also says, management has forgone any compensation including salary from the start of 2008. It also adds, they're working to resolve their pay issues and ask for patience. But after nearly of being patient, Sarah and Carah just want they're money. Carah says, "I did the work for it. I have a contract and I should be compensated."

As for Sarah and Carah both say they find many of these kind of job offers on-line on sites like craigslist. It's wise to check out the company before agreeing to go any work and also check where the company is based, as when they're across the country it's hard to do much about it if they don't follow through on payment.

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