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Photo by Josephine Flohr, Elephant at Camp, Namibia

I haven't been everywhere...
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Photo by Josephine Flohr,
Elephant at Camp, Namibia



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  • 1 Post By chris
  • 1 Post By Wildman
  • 2 Post By chris
  • 1 Post By colebatch
  • 1 Post By limerick2mongolia2013
  • 1 Post By Chris of Japan
  • 2 Post By docsherlock

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  #1  
Old 27 Aug 2013
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Real Russia visa agency. Beware, be very aware...

Real Russia visa agency. Beware, be very aware...

… of the lack of service offered by this cowboy outfit.

This email conversation happened in early July and I’m only posting this just now as I returned from Russia and Mongolia yesterday. As you can read in the conversation, in chronological order, they messed up, caused me extra expense and stress and took no responsibility for it. They then threatened me with legal action.

You might reply how wonderful their service was. Great for you. Just be aware that it’s not all swimming with this outfit and that there are other visa agencies that can’t be as bad as them.

In hindsight I found the way RR treated me was a good introduction to the way Russians do business.


Chris Bright To RealRussia 01 July 2013 05:28 PM

Dear Real Russia

I ordered a Mongolia, a Kazakhstan and a 90day/double entry Russia visa on 24th May 2013 with ref number xxxxxxxxxxxxxx, allowing PLENTY OF TIME for all 3 visas to be arranged.

As hoped, I received notifications that the Mongolia (28th May) and Kazakhstan (6th June) visas had been arranged.

Then there a long lull hearing nothing about the Russia visa. According to your website you were arranging for the LOI to be generated on 13th June. Still having heard nothing, on Monday 17th June I called you to enquire on the progress of the Russian visa. I was told that there were some sort of “technical” problems with the LOI issuer and that I would have to pay for a new LOI to be issued by a different organisation. I questioned why I should have to do this when clearly this was no fault of mine and was told I had no choice.

Because of you taking your eye off the ball and not even realising there was a “problem” until I called on the 17th, I was also forced to pay even more to speed up the consular process. Furthermore, to expedite the situation so that I could still catch my flight, I had to settle for a single entry visa which has forced me to detrimentally adapt my itinerary while in Russia, Mongolia and Kazakhstan.

I appreciate there may indeed be “technical” problems at the original LOI issuer in Russia. However, it isn’t my problem that your contact in Russia cannot “come up with the goods”. The lady I spoke to said there had been problems with this LOI issuer for a while. Had you been organised and proficient you would not have put me through all this stress and extra expense. You should have arranged the LOI from the new issuer, paid the extra for the quicker consular service yourself and I would have been none the wiser, as well as a satisfied customer!

Instead you had me over a barrel and forced me to pay the extra fees so that I would get any sort of visa. Had I asked for a return of my passport without my Russian visa, I could not have gone elsewhere because of the short time left before my trip to Russia, for which I have an apex flight ticket.

With this new “high speed” process I was promised my visa and passport on Thursday 27th June. I eventually received my passport and visa on Saturday 29th June!

You recall this isn’t the first time I have received a shoddy service from you. In 2012 you caused me hassle and stress with regard to a Mongolian visa, ref number MTS-xxxxxxxxxx.

I am really struggling to think of reasons why I would recommend you to friends and family fellow travellers and business people I know in the many online communities I frequent. I really just want you to stop messing customers about and get your house in order. Why shouldn’t I just tell everybody I know about that Real Russia is actually like?

I politely request you refund me the £144.70 plus credit card fee = £148.31 I paid on 18th June that was no fault of my own.

Yours sincerely,

RR to CB: 02 July 2013 11:00 AM
Dear Mr Bright,

Unfortunately, UFMS in Moscow where all Corporate Visas are processed recently implemented a new system which subsequently crashed and has left them processing everything manually, which unfortunately has lead to huge delays. You visa has been caught in this delay, but we cannot be held responsible for this.

We offered an alternative solution, which you took and we processed your visa as soon as possible.

I am disappointed that you feel this way regarding the process, however the events were outwith our control.

Yours sincerely,




CB to RR 02 July 2013 11:14 AM

Dear Mas
UFMS were unable to provide a service: Fine. If somebody doesn't provide a service they shouldn't get paid. Why should I then pay a different organisation a second time for the same "product"? Why didn't you take the UFMS money and use it to pay the new LOI organisation?

If you're not a manager at Real Russia, please escalate this to them. If you are a manager, please understand that if this situation is not solved in a satisfactory manner, RealRussia will lose a great deal more that £148.31 in new business.

You know my complaint is not unreasonable and that you were incompetent and had me over a barrel.

Best Wishes,



RR to CB 04 July 2013 09:20 AM
Dear Mr Bright,

UFMS is the is the Russian Federal Migration Service and as such is a government run department. When paying for a visa you are paying the government to consider your application, in this case they are having issues with their internal processes which has meant lengthy delays.

As such to help you obtain your visa in time for your trip we advised using the department based in a different jurisdiction who do not have internal issues and that is why you had to pay again. If you had not paid for the alternative service, we would still be waiting on your visa coming through and there were no guarantees as to when you would have received it.

I completely understand your frustration, however we cannot be held responsible for Russian governmental issues and therefore we will not be issuing a refund.

Yours sincerely,



CB to RR 04 July 2013 09:40 AM

Hi Mas
It wasn't the case that my application was ever considered by anyone and then refused. It was never even looked at because the UFMS had a problem with their "internal process", as you say. Fine. If they (and by implication you, whom I paid) didn't do what I paid them for, I expect a refund. This refund should have been used to pay the new LOI organiser, rather than me having to pay yet again.

From my conversation with one of your colleagues I know that UFMS had been having problems for a while. Hence you should never have sent my LOI application to UFMS, but to an LOI issuer that you knew was able to supply what I was paying for. This is why I am questioning your competence.

This dialogue between us is going round and round in circles. If you really aren't able to bring this to a satisfactory conclusion I'll be copy/pasting our conversations into various relevant public internet forums. Clearly it's not cost effective for me to start legal proceedings for this small amount and I am able to still pay the rent/buy food, but you're not allowed to get away with this! A lot of people will find out about how Real Russia actually works. You'll also recall my Mongolian visa fiasco from last year. You have form.

Best wishes



RR to CB 04 July 2013 10:45 AM
Dear Mr Bright,

Again, I am aware of your frustrations with this, however we have acted in with responsibility throughout this process and have put your interests first in all our interactions.

To answer the points in your email: I would like to point out that I have not said that your application was refused, I stated that your application was delayed. UFMS have had these issues only since the beginning of June, which is exactly the time when your visa application was sent, therefore we had no prior knowledge that your visa would have any delays.

I would like to point out that we do monitor public forums and if we find anything that is defamatory, libellous or factually inaccurate we will take appropriate action.


Your sincerely,


CB to RR 04 July 2013 11:52 AM
Dear Mas
Please read my last email of today, 4th July at 9.40am again. If you do, you'll see that your reply looks ridiculous. I could explain it to you, but there's be no point...

OK, I will try... I never said that you had said the application was refused! I paid for a service that was to have a LOI issued in a certain amount of time. You and your chosen Russian contact were unable to do this in the time you said it would be done. Thus, I should have received a refund of the monies I paid for something I didn't get. This refund should have been used to pay the new LOI issuer. I should not have been forced to pay twice! Because of this delay I was forced to pay extra for a speeded up consular service at the Russian Embassy so that I wouldn't miss my flight to Russia.

Please advise the exact timeline of when you knew there was a problem with UFMS and when you submitted my application. Explain why, the minute you knew there was a problem, you didn't withdraw the application and use somebody who was able to furnish the required LOI. Also advise why you only got organised following a call by me on 17th June (my original LOI application was scheduled to be ready on 13th June). Please also explain why you promised to have my passport back to me by 27th June and it arrived on 29th June.

Thank you so much for your threat of "appropriate action". You present yourself as a an excellent example of gunboat diplomacy. You clearly haven't read page 1 of any book on Public Relations. Rest assured, I'll only copy and paste our email traffic and leave others to make their own conclusions. Maybe you'll threaten the websites with legal action too?

Do Real Russia a favour and please escalate this complaint to your line-manager.

Yours sincerely



RR to CB 4 July 2013 14:28
Dear Mr Bright,

I have discussed your complaint with my Line Manager and they are in complete agreement that we cannot offer any refund.

As I have previously said, I have sympathy with your situation, but Real Russia cannot be held responsible for third parties, as per our Terms & Conditions.

Your sincerely,
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  #2  
Old 27 Aug 2013
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Someone has to pay for the trip to the "Oscars"!
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  #3  
Old 27 Aug 2013
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I posted the same message as above on the Looney Planot Thorntree. It's been taken down. Garbage site, garbage guidebooks.
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  #4  
Old 28 Aug 2013
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FWIW I use (and recommend) VISALINK - Russia - tourist, business visa support and invitations. ... annually for 15 years now.

Last edited by colebatch; 29 Aug 2013 at 13:52.
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  #5  
Old 29 Aug 2013
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We had a similar problem with Real Russia, they incorrectly issued us 3 LOI for Russia and when we applied separately (because we are irish they wouldnt do the applications for us) we were told that the LOI was incorrect - We paid for a service that was not done correctly and it cost us a Russian visa, couldn't use a Mongolian visa and missed a flight home...
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  #6  
Old 29 Aug 2013
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May not be a good idea to use a company where the terms state "We do not accept any responsibility for any consequences of any errors made by us when processing your visa or visa support documents."
i.e. No matter how we screw up, it ain't our problem.
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  #7  
Old 29 Aug 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by limerick2mongolia2013 View Post
We had a similar problem with Real Russia, they incorrectly issued us 3 LOI for Russia and when we applied separately (because we are irish they wouldnt do the applications for us) we were told that the LOI was incorrect - We paid for a service that was not done correctly and it cost us a Russian visa, couldn't use a Mongolian visa and missed a flight home...
So I'm not the only one. Over on a different website where I posted the same story, a few people pontificated forth how wonderful RR are. Clearly not always.

Please be aware of their arrogant, incompetent underbelly.
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  #8  
Old 29 Aug 2013
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So you had a problem with them the year before and then chanced them again?

Caveat emptor, you numpty.

Suggest Colebatch's recc for your next trip.
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  #9  
Old 29 Aug 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by docsherlock View Post
So you had a problem with them the year before and then chanced them again?

Caveat emptor, you numpty.

Suggest Colebatch's recc for your next trip.
It won't come as a complete surprise that I won't use RR again. Following the 2012 Mongolia visa situation l shouldn't have given them the benefit of the doubt that it was a one off. They did give me a refund on that occasion.

Post 46 in the ride report link below gives a description. RR didn't spot that the visa was unsigned.

RR have in my experience developed a proven track record.

I won't need Walter's agency any time soon as trips in the near future will be to other parts of the world where, coincidentally, visas aren't required.
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  #10  
Old 11 Sep 2013
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Starting to Apply for our Visas

Our trip to Russia,Mongolia and China next May,June and July, we will not be using Real Russia after reading this

Dave
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  #11  
Old 8 Oct 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by colebatch View Post
FWIW I use (and recommend) VISALINK - Russia - tourist, business visa support and invitations. ... annually for 15 years now.
Walter, thanks for the link.
Do they help for the Stans republic LOIs as well by any chance?
I am just in the prelim stage for a trip across central Asia next spring/summer....
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  #12  
Old 10 Oct 2013
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Originally Posted by maria41 View Post
Walter, thanks for the link.
Do they help for the Stans republic LOIs as well by any chance?
I am just in the prelim stage for a trip across central Asia next spring/summer....
I dont think so Maria ... bear in mind you only need the LOIs for Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan last time I checked. The other 3 former soviet stans were LOI free.

Generally accepted wisdom is that StanTours is the default LOI issuer of choice for the Stans (and Azerbaijan) on the HUBB.
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  #13  
Old 7 Apr 2014
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Just for the record, Real Russia just did a great job for me and my wife (March 2014)
They got us all the visa we need and it was a great service. They advised on the Mongolia visa ans suggested that we get ours in Moscow, they sent the forms and did not charge anything (for the Mongolia bit)
Excellent service,
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  #14  
Old 12 Apr 2014
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I've used them three times now and they have not caused me any concerns doing exactly what they said when they said they would.

I think there may have been a good basis for them 'taking a hit' for the sake of keeping a customer happy but that's a business view and probably one that will cost them in the long run.

From an administrative point of view they have seemingly followed their prescribed procedures and whether a visa is issued at all or on time is not their concern, having a background in Financial Services administration I'm aware that this mindset is not uncommon in the UK either, its effective and efficient 99% of the time and great administrators don't always make great customer service representatives! you just have to hope someone gives a hoot to clean up around the edges.

As I like to keep the lies I needed to tell to get an MEBV consistent for fear of discrepancy resulting in a 'Nyet' It's useful to me to use the same service provider as they keep the previous applications on file and when I asked were happy to complete the form using those details and just ask for clarification on any odd points, in fact they bent over backwards to get hold of me with regards to a couple of errors I had made and rewrote the form because I had forgotten some small changes like the fact I had moved effectively doing the admin twice, I also kept a single point of contact throughout and she was very polite, efficient, took ownership of my needs and explained things clearly to me.

I only add that because I think whilst the way a company presents itself when dealing with stuff outside of the day to day is important that goes for positives as well as negatives
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