Consumers' champion?

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 February, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 25 February, 1998, 12:00am

Is the Consumer Council really an association ready to stand by the side of consumers, or is it just a bunch of egotistic professionals who think they are smarter than anyone else? I called the Consumer Council on February 16, trying to lodge a complaint about a modelling agency which fed me a pack of lies.

The woman on the phone seemed unconcerned, but politely gave me the time to finish my story. She then started lamenting why there are still people falling prey to unethical modelling agencies after repeated television and newspaper reports warning against them. She even said I was more at fault than most other victims because I had contacted the agency and had not been approached by them.

I had to explain to her that this was no ordinary modelling agency fraud. I was dealing with a group of intelligent con artists who tricked people by exploiting the very mistrust engendered among the public for 'fly-by-night' agencies. When you go to their office, they say reassuring things like 'beware of disreputable agencies . . .', and 'we belong to the union. You can check it out'. I did, and the union members rejected the agency's claim.

The person in charge of the agency was a model herself and the agency gives out contracts with big names on them.

But when the day of shooting approaches they either postpone the job or send the 'model' to an unknown and low-class studio. No representatives of the client would be there, no one from the advertising firm nor anyone from the modelling agency, and the hopes of the 'model' would again be frustrated.

The above things are never reported in any news stories I have read. My point is that con artists change their tactics all the time and the Consumer Council should not think it knows everything. It should be prepared to learn from complainants' stories.

R. HO Mid-Levels