Kiev Connections - Review
I went on an individual tour in Kiev using services of Kiev Connections
and had a good time. Their primary selling point is their honesty, and their "American Manager in Kiev". Brett Owsley, the owner, points out that other "American-Owned" operations are managed by locals while the American owner stays home in America.
I don't know that the "American Owned/Operated" element really helps anything other than giving one the comfort of knowing that there is an American to whom you can speak if needed. Their letter and gift services work much like any other local agency, except that they are probably more honest, and are competitively priced.
They don't sell or otherwise provide any contact information for their Ukrainian women clients, but you are allowed to exchange contact information via their letter services.
In addition to their letter and gift services they offer a relatively unique collection of tour services. Unlike other agencies, they offer most "tour" services "a la carte". Such services include airport pickup and drop-off, apartment rental, interpreter services, and introduction services (on a pay-per-intro basis). All these services are competitively priced and honest.
If you have read several of my other reviews before getting to this one, surely you are now expecting the "but..." part of the review ;-) I won't disappoint...
Among their "a la carte" tour services, Kiev Connections offers a "Matchmaker" program. When I used it in 2006 the price was $300. Now it is $500. In theory
this service is a great idea. Basically, you provide them a list of at least 10 women from their database that you would like to meet, a general introduction letter, and a few recent pictures of yourself. Then, prior to your trip they will contact each of the girls on your list, show them your letter and pictures, and ascertain their interest in meeting you.
The THEORY is that instead of meeting 25+ women and doing all the screening yourself, they will be like your "friend on the ground" and really screen the girls and find out in advance if they are serious, interested in you, and seem compatible with you (based on what you tell the agency) BEFORE you travel. Then, by the time you arrive, they will have already narrowed your list and found the BEST FIVE Ukrainian women candidates for you so that you can hit the ground running and not need to waste your precious time with women that were not serious.
If you need to meet more women than the five they found for you, you will be charged a per-introduction fee. I can't find this fee published on the Kiev Connections site, but in 2006 it was $40 each. Given the price increase for their Matchmaker program, I can't help but believe that their price for individual introductions has increased too.
The operative word in all this is "in theory"
. If it REALLY worked like that, it would be priceless! If you could truly have a "friend on the ground" who would really work in your best interest to screen the girls on your list and seriously try to find the best five who were really serious, interested, and compatible, they could double the price and it would be worth it!
BUT, when I used that service I definitely did not get the idea that ANY
"screening" took place. It sounded much more like they just called the girls, read them my letter, and scheduled appointments with the first five who agreed. I have two other friends who used this service who had the same impression.
And this is no different than what the Angelika Network
does for you on their individual tours, except it's included in the price of the tour and they'll find you up to 25, not just 5. And if those 25 don't work out, they will introduce you to unlimited additional women from their (much larger) database FOR NO ADDITIONAL CHARGE.
This all leads me to believe that Kiev Connections' Matchmaker service is really just a "Moneymaker" gimmick that sounds great on paper but whose real aim is to squeeze a few more dollars out of the customer. But keep in mind, in this industry this is definitely not that big a complaint! I have never experienced, read, or heard anything that would lead me to believe that this agency is dishonest in any way, and among Ukrainian and Russian marriage agencies, that's significant!
Bottom line... for most of Kiev Connections services you can get decent, honest service, but some of their services are just grotesquely overpriced ("Matchmaker"). But for all practical purposes you can get the same services for better prices from the Kiev Angelika Network agencies (who I remind you pay me NO COMMISSIONS!), and most of the women on Kiev Connections that you would want to meet can also be found at the Angelika Network affiliates in Kiev.