based and local
Russian agencies have completely different ways of doing business, and
knowing the patterns will help you to understand what's going on in
your particular case.
Western based agencies
Western agencies usually
start by placing ads in local Russian newspapers that promise to help
women in search of a partner abroad. Women send letters and photos to
the address. Usually a lady will send applications to 5-15 agencies
that placed ads in the same newspaper.
When an agency has
enough profiles to start from, they launch a website, and offer the
women's information to men. The method of work will be whether selling
addresses or membership, or combining both options. Western agencies
also offer gift delivery, translation and email forwarding services.
The average price per address is $10, translation - $8-15 per page, and
email forwarding - $4-8 per page.
A new agency features
all the ladies, then after a while starts to sort the arriving
applications, choosing only the most "sellable" faces. The older the
agency, the stricter they sort their mail.
The addresses of women
are very seldom verified, and the women are almost never contacted on a
regular basis. All protestations that women featured are still
available and don't correspond with anybody should not mislead you:
even if a particular lady was not contacted by anybody through this
agency, women never send their data to only one agency, and she is
likely to get dozens letters through another service. Also, some
agencies buy or rent addresses from local dating agencies and profits
When the agency has a
database of over a thousand ladies, after some period, it will start
offering romantic tours to Russia/Ukraine. At this stage the agency can
afford to have an office in Russia. The agency invites all female
clients to participate in "socials" though usually only ladies from the
same city attend the events; most of women cannot afford to travel. The
agency places advertisements in local media announcing the forthcoming
gathering to ensure enough attendants. Women receive vouchers from the
agency's office a few days before, and their data is recorded and
identification checked. Agencies actually encourage women to "dig
deeper", and once they attended a social, they be invited again and
If the agency is
successful, word of mouth advertising starts bringing more clients.
Also, agencies receive a number of applications via websites. The more
successful the agency is, the more letters its girls receive. The more
letters the girls receive, the more eager they are in recommending the
agency to their friends. The more eager they are in recommending the
agency to their friends, the more new profiles the agency receives. The
more profiles the agency has, the more men join it. The more men join
it, the more letters the girls receive. Bingo.
On the downside of
joining bigger agencies is the high competition between male clients in
winning hearts of female members. A lady featured by a well established
agency can receive up to 50 letters A WEEK, especially if she has an
email address. The agency usually indicates if a woman has access to
email, and women who have such an advantage do not stay single for long.
But addresses and
corresponding services are not where agencies make real money. They
provide permanent cash flow but seldom are the main source of income.
The serious money is made on tours. Either it's a group romantic tour
with socials, or an individual tour, the agency has a fair piece of it.
translation and email forwarding services offered by a Western based
agency are more expensive, and less flexible than the ones provided by
a local agency. Most of the agencies have a representative in one of
Russian cities who prints and mails forwarded letters, and if the
addressee is not from the same city, delivery time can take up to 10
days even locally. The best in this case is if the representative is
based in Moscow; letters from Moscow arrive considerably fast (3-7
days) nation wide.
The strong point of
Western agencies is their large databases, but it turns out to be their
weakness as well: the larger the database is, the more difficult it is
to manage and keep it up to date. That's why applying to women who have
been in the database of a large agency for a long time is like trying
to buy a car with the help of private ads from last year's newspaper.
In the case of Western
based agencies, the best way of ensuring your contact with available
women is membership that allows you access to the database of new
profiles, even better if it's granted to members only. Thus you will be
able to contact ladies who have just started their search, and are not
yet involved in correspondence or relationship, so they are more likely
to be attentive to your letters/emails/phone calls.
Local Russian marriage agencies
In Russian there is no
such a word as "dating", so local agencies call themselves "marriage"
or "introduction" agencies.
Local agencies cannot
offer you huge databases to browse but they do know their clients
personally. Some agencies will let you contact women free of charge.
Local agencies also
place ads in the same newspapers, only in Russian. As they are situated
closer, speak in plain Russian, and are physically available for
satisfying women's curiosity, they have very limited but constnat flow
of new applicants.
Competition on the
marriage market is rather tough, and active searchers move from one
agency to another trying to find one that will really help. The others
stick to one agency, make friends with agencies' personnel and their
visit is a way of socializing. The majority disappears after
registration and a couple of hopeful visits with no results, as women
hope that applying to an agency will guarantee her finding a husband in
no time. They try to contact men from the catalogues offered by the
agency, but rarely receive a positive answer, because they don't know
what to write. If later the agency phones asking them to fetch their
letters, they may come, or may not, or come in a month time - depending
if their way will be somewhere close by during the agency's office
hours. If the agency doesn't phone, they will never come themselves.
Most of the ladies do
not really believe in possibility of finding a husband in such a way,
and for the most of them it's true - they won't. The majority of local
agencies' clients are women in their middle 30th and 40th, and this age
group is not the most popular on the scene of international dating.
sends/rents/sells women's data to western agencies (in a case if it's
not on the market for a long time), or introduce them on their own
website with their own .com
domain name (if they have good experience in matchmaking business). The
agencies that are in between will have a website with one of the free
hosting providers like Xoom or Hypermart. Local agencies usually
feature all their clients, since they don't have thousands.
Ladies usually pay a fee
to agencies, which can be anything from $2 to $50, with the average
amount of $10. Women also pay for sending/receiving emails and
translation services. When
choosing between sending a letter to overseas' pen friend or buying a
piece of meat for supper Russian females usually prefer the latter
option. Their fees usually cannot be relied on to cover the agencies
expenses for office rental, equipment, Internet connection and
personnel. So the main source of income for local agencies has to be,
again, foreign men. Some
agencies offer free listing for women under 30.
Sending a letter will
cost you $1-2, translation - $2-5 per page, and gift delivery may be
2-3 times cheaper than if you use a western service.
Local agencies make
money mostly on men's correspondence to their virtual girlfriends, and
gift delivery. They also offer individual tours for men but rarely have
real visitors. When a reseller asked one of the agencies that offered a
tour with accommodation/full time interpreter/unlimited meeting with
girls for $1700 for 10 days (airfare excluded) how much money will be
enough for them, they agreed to receive only $500 if they would have a
permanent flow of visitors.
A good local agency may
be your best friend, a bad one or your worst enemy. It pretty much
depends on the personality of its owner but you never know.
Local agencies depend on
their clients' correspondence with men, and some agencies try to
encourage ladies to write letters despite of her genuine disinterest in
a particular candidate. If a lady received a letter, she is asked to
respond, they say that "the first impression is not always correct" and
"men specially send their worst photos to check your reaction". In more
prominent cases the agency can use a woman's data to attract clients
and respond to letters without her knowledge.
Even if a couple is
really attracted to each other, the agency has total control over their
correspondence. Many experienced agencies do not allow any money matter
discussions between men and women, such questions should be discussed
only with the owner. The agency will try to convince a lady that she
needs its help, and without it won't get the right guy. The lady in her
letters will ask her boyfriend to trust the agency, and do what they
require. If he tries to do something in a different way, he starts
receiving letters saying how she, his beloved one, was hurt by his
negligence. If he does not trust her, they should stop any
relationship. He made her cry. She could not sleep the whole night. He
broke her heart...
So the man has to follow
the path. I have heard about cases when men were asked to pay 2-3
thousand dollars for preparing "marriage papers" BEFORE they actually
meet their virtual fiancées.
The less experienced is
the agency, the more freedom its clients have. Nevertheless,
restricting clients' freedom gives its results, and experienced
agencies reach happy endings more often. They provide "better"
translation that makes an ordinary woman's letter sound full of
passion, they are very strict to the girls in answering letters in
time, and they know what to do to make a man fall in love. On the other
hand, they can advise a woman against a particular candidate, and after
long correspondence you can finish in vain when decide to visit your
distant friend. Also, I have heard about cases when men sent money and
gifts, and women never received them.
To avoid heartbreak when
dealing with local agencies, ask about woman's real address and phone
number in THE VERY FIRST LETTER. If she does not have a phone, ask her
to arrange phone contact through friends or relatives. If her English
is not good enough, you can use option of conference calls offered by
some agencies. You need a way of direct contact in case if you face
problems with the agency. Give your postal address, and ask a lady to
write you a "real" letter. Try to teach your lady to use email on her
own, and encourage her studying English. But if she struggles a lot,
you will be in better off using an agency so long.
Contact the agency's
owner if s/he has not contacted you yet, and discuss conditions of
their service. Never hesitate to ask a question if necessary.
The strong point of
local agencies is their personal acquaintance with their clients, and
if you use local agencies in the correct manner, they can be of great
help. They have real women, know them well, and their women are
In my opinion,
two people should communicate without a mediator when it's about an
important subject such as a relationship.
Using agencies for
bringing men and women together in the beginning of your search is
fine, but on a later stage you must try to make your contacts direct.
Encourage your lady to use email on her own, and improve her knowledge
Another trick is to use
a third party service - for example, an independent provider of email
forwarding or gift delivery to ensure that your letters and gifts will
be delivered. Also, when it's about getting legal help for your
romance, always opt for a western service.
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