Hollywood dreams interrupted by canceled contract battle
LIVONIA, Mich. – Many kids dream about hitting it big in Hollywood.
Allie Toyeas, 13, of Livonia, dreams of being on one of her favorite shows like Gossip Girl or Vampire Diaries. She though The Studios @ Michigan in Southfield might be her ticket to the big time. Her mother agreed to visit the company's offices.
"I thought, well it's in Southfield, it's not like we're in Hollywood or anything like that," said mom Vickie Toyeas.
Allie wanted to sign up for acting classes,and her mom was interested, but hesitant about signing on the dotted line. Vickie knew her daughter was already busy with school, cheerleading, gymnastics, and piano.
Vickie wanted to talk about the $1,330 contract with her husband before signing, but then the representative for The Studios @ Michigan made a tempting promise.
"Her answer was, 'No just sign it since you're here and if he doesn't agree with that, then we'll get rid of it,'" said Toyeas.
So, Vicki signed the contract in January of 2014. At the time, she said they were told it wasn't a problem.
"$1300 is a lot of money, and if you said that you would get rid of the contract, I assume I'm not responsible for that money," she told Help Me Hank.
However, putting that bill behind them wasn't that easy. In April of 2014, the family received a bill demanding payment in full. They contacted the company again, and eventually received an email spelling it out that the debt was canceled. Sadly, that still wasn't enough.
Debt collectors starting contacting the family again in October of 2015 demanding the $1,300. There were more phone calls. The Toyeas family told the debit collectors they had an email that canceled the debt, but they say it seemed no one would listen. Finally, they contacted Help Me Hank.
Help Me Hank reached out to The Studios @ Michigan on their behalf. The company promised to resolve the situation. We also reached out to the Better Business Bureau and found The Studios @ Michigan has an "F" rating with the bureau. Other customers have complained about problems with refunds.
No one from The Studios @ Michigan was available for an interview, but they took issue with the BBB rating, saying it reflected a small number of complaints and did not reflect the many satisfied customers that was done business with the company.
A short time after Help Me Hank got involved, the Toyeas family had a new letter promising the debt was officially canceled and saying the problem never should have gone to collections.
"And, they were falling all over, once then knew you were involved. They were falling all over saying, 'Oh, we're sorry. It never should have gone to collection,'" said Vickie.
The family feels they would not have rested easy, if Help Me Hank hadn't contacted the company.
"We'd like to say Help Me Hank, Thank you for helping us out with this situation! Because, now we feel it's a done deal and we never have to think about it again." said Toyeas.