Elena's Models - Review

Anyone who has been a reader of my site prior to August 2014 knows that I have always recommended Elena's Models very highly. They were simply the best service available in the industry and had the best reputation even among the harshest critics.

Elena's Models used to be the best on several fronts: (a) Anti-Scam, (b) size of database, (c) "realness" of the Russian women users, (d) site function/design/features, (e) price.

Many of these qualities may still exist, with the notable exception of "D" (site function/design/features). They had a major site "upgrade" released on June 1, 2014, and since this "upgrade" it has been downhill ever since.

My own experience with the site shows this, plus I hear from many others that data has been lost (messages, favorites), features don't work, pictures don't display correctly, members who had "Gold" membership status lost this status, some men have had their memberships auto-renew (charging their credit card again without notice), etc.

Everyone I've heard from has reported problems using the site and complains about how it now works. In short, NO ONE LIKES THE NEW SITE -- at least no one I have heard from.

Maybe all their issues will be worked out in the weeks, months, and years to come, but unfortunately I'm not optimistic. Whoever is managing and executing their I.T. operations just doesn't seem up to the task.

For now I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that they are still an honest business, but their recent changes have definitely taken them out of position of industry leader.

Ownership Change?

I have heard speculation that ownership and/or management has changed. And I must say it made sense. I even suspected it myself. What else could explain such a dramatic drop in quality?

But on July 30, 2014 they sent an announcement to users denouncing rumors that the business was under new ownership and claiming that Elena (the founder and namesake of the Elena's Models) is still the "sole owner and contributing head".

Well, depending on what they mean by "contributing head" this may be true, but in October 2012 Elena sent an email to all Elena's Models users explaining her "new passion" for fashion. She talked about her history of involvement in the international dating arena and the founding of EM, and then after basically saying she had given the dating business enough of her life she said "but recently I have not been involved that much with the dating industry..."

So by her own explicit admission in late 2012 she had stepped away from involvement in the dating industry (presumably including her dating website business). Presumably her withdrawal from the dating industry started at least a year or two prior to that announcement (i.e. probably sometime in 2010).

And, maybe it's not an accident that starting around then that service quality declined.

For example, prior to that Elena's Models offered a "Premium Search" service. That may not be the exact name, but basically the service involved them really working with you personally to help you find and meet your special Russian/Ukrainian lady. It was expensive, but to have a hands-on personal guide through the whole process was probably worth it, especially if the guide was very good (and I assume in the early days Elena was the guide, or at least someone who worked closely with her).

But several readers of my site wrote me reporting that they had attempted to inquire about the premium search service, but received no reply. Imagine that... The service was offered on the site, but would-be customers couldn't get a reply to inquiries.

So I wrote to them and asked. Essentially the answer was something like "Oh, yeah, the Premium Search is a very involved process and right now we're at our capacity and cannot take on any new clients for that service". Right! Frankly, that answer combined with the non-reply to the actual customers inquiring about the service suggested to me that the real answer was probably more like "Leave us alone... That 'premium service' involves more work than we're willing to do..."

And then there's the matter of profile screening. At least as I understood it, the Elena's Models policy was that they screened all female applicants. But starting sometime between 2010 and 2012 (approximately when Elena lost interest) women applicants were no longer screened carefully. I know several Russian/Ukrainian women who assured me that they signed up on Elena's Models with no validation whatsoever.

Then a reader of my site contacted me informing me that he was suing Elena's Models for "misrepresentation". He had been scammed out of some $17000 or so by a woman he met on EM.

I suspect his story was true because immediately after he wrote me about this many of my stored favorite profiles on Elena's Models showed notices like "This user has been removed for violation of terms", "This user removed because we could not verify her identity", etc. My guess is that after receiving notice of the lawsuit, they immediately set out to start implementing their advertised anti-scam policies again.

So what does all this mean? Simply this... From sometime around the founding of Elena's Models till around 2010-2012 they were serious about their founding vision because Elena was on the scene providing direction and leadership.

When Elena lost interest she farmed out the operation of her site to people who didn't truly share her core convictions, and consequently many of her values vacated the scene with her. They stopped screening new applicants, they stopped providing the more labor-intensive services, etc. They just didn't care.

I strongly believe it was Elena's passion, vision, personality, drive, and intelligence that made Elena's Models the great success that it was. One only need to read her eBooks to get a good sense of these qualities. She is the "real deal". But all evidence - including her own admission - indicates that she moved on to other interests.

Sure, she may continue to "contribute", but probably not much.

Now don't get me wrong... I don't fault Elena for this. Peoples' interests change over time, and especially in an area like "Dating". She went through the process of finding a foreign husband, took great interest in it, sought out to help others in their international dating pursuits, and built a business around it. But after being married for some 15 years or so seeing the same things over and over, it might be hard for her to remain interested. So don't take my criticism of the site and business as a criticism of her.

But whether or not there is new ownership or new management doesn't really matter. And it doesn't matter whose fault it is that the site has become such a mess. What does matter is that the site was good, now it is a mess, and there's no end in sight.

That's a disappointment, but fortunately, until Elena's Models gets back on track (if it ever gets back on track) the marketplace delivers an excellent alternative! In my opinion, Russian-Ukrainian-Women.com surpasses the "new" Elena's Models in almost every way (and actually even competes quite well with the old Elena's Models). You can click that link to read my full description.