One person had a good idea, but TomZ called him a cheapskate and he hadn't come back since. That is, to look her up on social media after the initial contact.
An agency can gouge you. Initial contact is really all you need. Interpreting, letters, phone calls, video, even travel and hotel can be bought from the agency. They will most probably charge a premium rate. It is business, and if they can get away with it, more power to them. But, you don't need an agency for that.
From experience, the agency can even ask the lady for a percentage of the gifts you gave her. That would most probably be the reason why the lady would tell you not to tell the agency of the gifts you give her. Interpreting, letters, phone calls, video and so forth, I understand. But I believe if you give gifts, it is from one person to another and the agency should take no part in it. But many will, if you don't watch it.
Take control of the agency. If you can't, walk away. There are other agencies.
The top rated site, according to many here in the forum is Elena's Models. Still, you can find scammers there. Fiance.com is good, but still there are scammers. The top scammer site is Anastasiadate. Yet some in the forum have said they have found nice ladies there.
I don't think you should judge a lady by how much you pay an agency.
What have you achieved rb? Have you ever gotten a girlfriend from Eastern Europe? Have you been to any country besides Ukraine? Have you ever gotten beyond the first date? Have you ever spent more than 10 days there?
fiance.com is NOT expensive. it is a good value for what you get. you will pay way more on pay per letter
than the monthly fee.
its an insignificant part of the process, especially when you are going to spend upwards from $3000 to $5000 to visit for a typical 2 weeks
typical US airfare during summer $1500
GOOD accommodations for 2 weeks $ 700
travel (train, taxi, bus) 3 cities $ 300
your meals (excluding dating) $ 250
8 dates $ 400
agency fees for 2 introductions $ 100
total minimum $3250
as noted in that chart it doesnt include any touristy things like excursions or museums, gifts, souvenirs, or any extras. can you do it for less? in winter you can
save $500 on airfare and another $300 on accommodations but is still $2500 minimum so that $50 a month isnt so expensive...
Most of my contacts on this site are agency connected. I have hundreds of messages from these profiles. Being a premium member would have tacked on quite a bit of extra charges besides the monthly fee. Some have complained about these extra charges (without realizing the fine print).
R4G - good points. This guy is saying that VIP membership is expensive but he's not taking into account other expenses incurred in meeting these girls as you've pointed out.
I mean if you can't afford the agency fees how in the world are you going to fly half way across the world, date with these ladies and eventually undertake what is required to sponsor one of them to your country? (if that is what you want)
"fiance.com is NOT expensive. it is a good value for what you get. you will pay way more on pay per letter than the monthly fee."
I recommend that as well. Yet, you can get an introduction really cheap by pay per letter. Look at the terms of service of the agencies. Some of them say they have to give you their phone number if you ask for it. Ask for it on your very first letter. Then, that's all you paid for is one letter.
I did that a couple of times. I still wrote and paid for the letters, which is conveniently translated. I also had another way of communicating. Translators on the phone are way cheaper than the agencies. You can also befriend an English speaking Ukrainian who will do so for free.
I have not used fiance.com. But, I read once here on the forum that video chats are extra. One option is skype. I am not saying don't use fiance.com video. I am saying there is another option.