Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has announced a lawsuit against The Event in Orlando Inc. ("The Event") and its owner Andrew Andrekopoulos of Cleveland. According to the lawsuit, the business sold talent-contest packages to consumers whose children wanted to be "discovered" but misrepresented its services and failed to give consumers proper notice of their cancellation rights.
"This business exploited families' dreams of stardom and took thousands of dollars from them," DeWine said. "Parents should take this lawsuit as a warning: Some so-called talent agencies take more than they give."
(NOTE - To read the entire lawsuit, scroll to the end of this story and click on the link.)
According to the lawsuit, The Event's principal place of business is 3401 Enterprise Parkway, Suite 340 in Beachwood. The business uses radio ads to target the parents of 6-to-17-year-old children who are interested in acting, modeling, dancing, or singing. Consumers are told to send text messages right away to reserve their spot at a "tryout," typically held at a local hotel.
At the tryout, the business tells consumers that their child has been accepted for a chance to compete at "The Event" in Florida, where — the business claims — representatives who work with Nickelodeon, The Disney Channel, Fox, ABC, MGM, and stars such as Selena Gomez, Taylor Lautner, and Miranda Cosgrove will attend. In truth, the business "accepts" most children and sells parents a package ranging from $1,900 to $10,000 to attend a talent contest in Orlando. (Consumers must pay their own airfare and travel costs.)
Parents are led to believe that this is a "once in a lifetime" opportunity, but of the 19 consumers who filed complaints and spent more than $40,000 total, no children were "discovered." In the lawsuit, the attorney general charges the business and its owner with violations of Ohio's Consumer Sales Practices Act and Home Solicitation Sales Act and seeks consumer restitution, civil penalties, and injunctive relief.
In light of the lawsuit, Attorney General DeWine offers consumers the following tips:
**Carefully research fee-based talent searches before entering into an agreement or making any payments. Check a business' reputation with the Ohio Attorney General's Office and the Better Business Bureau.
**Make sure you understand all the terms and conditions of the contract. Take the contract home and look at it without the pressure of a company representative present.
**Get everything in writing, especially verbal promises.
**Ask for references from past customers. Verify claims about their work and the companies that hired them.
** Keep in mind that you have a three-day right to cancel most contracts you sign outside a normal place of business, such as at a hotel. Businesses must notify you of this right.
Consumers who believe they have been treated unfairly should file a complaint with the Ohio Attorney General's Office at www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov or (800) 282-0515.
A copy of the lawsuit is available below.