I worked for the company around 2005 and you are completely correct. She pays the agents (about $300.00) to come and "interview" her clients. Occasionally, an agent will see a child with potential but very rarely. Also, clients are NOT allowed to meet agents until they have headshots. These cost the client $600.00, yet the photographer only charges Helen $25.00!!! In addition, they are TERRIBLE quality. She even made babies get headshots, which is completely unnecessary.
When I worked for the company, Helen did not claim it to be a school. She would claim to act as the clients manager but would "suggest" the client take lessons. She would not "represent" a client until they had paid for classes. Because of so many reports to the BBB and unfavorable internet postings, she licensed her school. Just notice the numerous disclosures on the site. The teachers were not licensed when I worked there, nor were they qualified. There was 1 modeling class offered by a very talented woman who had the resume to back her lessons, but not licensing. She QUIT, however, when Helen forced her to teach girls who were too young for runway (8, 9, 10 yo girls). The parents wanted modeling and Helen wanted money so she put them in a runway class.
Helen's main marketing ploy would be free photoshoots. Think: fill out this information for your chance to win a free photoshoot. We would then call the person and tell them they didnt win but were having open auditions that Wed or Thursday. (SHE ALWAYS CALLED THEM AUDITIONS. PEOPLE WOULD COME THINKING IT WAS AN OPEN CASTING. SHE ALSO PRETENDED THAT THESE "AUDITION" WERE FOR HER PILOT). This is when the paid agent would speak for 10minutes (all fluff) and then Helen would "interview" everyone who showed up. This is when she'd identify the person's potential BUT classes make you so much better! Oh, she never did give away a free photoshoot when I worked there.
I suggest small claims. She would always give a verbal refund of 10 days but Im not sure what's in the contract you have? It may never go to court because it's annoying (and documented) to her. Trust me, she's had MANY a claim against her.
Everything I wrote is FACTUAL. If anything, you could print this out and pass it outside her office when she has auditions and tell people she wont refund your money and so they deserve to know what you experienced. I quit the company when I started to speak with clients and learned what they were being told. I even had a friend go "undercover" for his feedback. Plus, there were thin walls so I could hear what was said all the time. I found check stubs for the agents being paid (she's VERY unorganized and will leave things everywhere). I was also told things by teachers as to what they personally experienced.
Ive read on some blogs that people say she's a man, etc. This is untrue. I can't speak to the other claims, (the use of coke seems quite plausible, though, I never saw her do it in front of me YET there were people she employeed whom I know 100% DID DO DRUGS) they may or may not be true. From what I know of her, she is extremely paranoid and selfish, amongst other unfortunate traits. ALL she wants is money.
Look, I would say spend the money and put up with the bs if there were a remote chance of making it for your child. Forget the $1, 500.00-$6, 000.00 classes and $600.00 photoshoot. Just find an agent to pay $300.00 to look over your kid.
Even if your kids could make it, do you really want to subject them to her character and the character of her company? She has no integrity.