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TransSiberian tickets Real Russia (www.realrussia.co.uk)

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TransSiberian tickets Real Russia (www.realrussia.co.uk)

I recently travelled from Beijing to St Petersburg on the trans Mongolian rail. The trip was fantastic, but I had a very bad experience with the London based travel agency, Real Russia (www.realrussia.co.uk).

They tell you that they charge a commission of 15-20% of the cost of the train ticket. What they don't tell you is that they use local agencies to actually book the tickets who also charge a similar mark up. In my case I paid a total commission of 45% of the cost of the tickets had I booked them directly. The commission alone that we paid for tickets for 2 people was in excess of £500 and it definitely was not worth it! As we were travelling at the time, we had to go to the local agencies to pick up the tickets ourselves (not in convenient or well signed locations), and some of the information provided to us from Real Russia was wrong, leading to us not being aware we were spending an additional night on the train, which meant we booked a night in a hotel which we did not need, and we didn't have enough food on the train for the journey.

Real Russia are systematically misleading customers as to the commission they will pay, even when explicitly asked what the mark up on the face value of the ticket is, they will not give an accurate answer. The response I received from their complaints team after reviewing the transcript of the call was 'I can only apologise for the mis-information you received from members of our team, our team are not always fully aware of the costs for tickets'. I have spoken to the customer service team since making this complaint and they are still providing the same misinformation.

I would recommend booking through a reputable local agency (or directly online if you don't mind the trouble of translating webpages). Seat61.com gives some great information about how to book tickets. They recommend Real Russia highly but note that they do also get commission for any bookings made through RealRussia...

Moscow, Russia
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1. Re: TransSiberian tickets Real Russia (www.realrussia.co.uk)

> I would recommend booking through a reputable local agency (or directly online if you don't mind the trouble of translating webpages).

One does not even need to translate anything to buy tickets at face value from Russian Railroads directly on www.rzd.ru - they have a booking interface in English now. The only problem is they don't accept American-issued credit cards at the moment but if you are from elsewhere you could have bought your tickets from them, had you read this forum in time.

> Seat61.com gives some great information about how to book tickets. They recommend Real Russia highly but note that they do also get commission for any bookings made through RealRussia...

They most obviously do - they have been repeatedly asked to remove misleading information from their web site but they have evidently been "too busy" for many months.

Banbury
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2. Re: TransSiberian tickets Real Russia (www.realrussia.co.uk)

Sorry Clara….. but I’m having a hard time having any sympathy for you. I’ve never used them for train tickets but I’ve looked into how they operate and they don’t seem to be any worse or better than the rest of the 3rd party sites you’ll come across.

It seams that you’ve did little or no research into your trip and as a consequence planned it badly and are looking for a scapegoat.

If any site is misleading it’s the Seat 61 site as Marassa has stated, on the site they claim that Real Russia mark up is 15-23% but when I’ve made my own comparisons it works out at anything between 20-60%. Seat 61 also claims that “in fact Real Russia is one of the cheapest” where the fact is they charge pretty much the same as most of the other agencies we have in the west. Seat 61 state “Russian Railways offer online booking but it's only in Russian” again not true the site has had an English option since the beginning of this year and even before this there was plenty of guides on how to navigate the Russian version, a DE in the Moscow forum produced a very good one here.

Why you felt the need to continually stop and pick up tickets is beyond me, for trains in Russia you don’t even need the actual real ticket these days and you would have been given the option to have your tickets sent to your home address or a hotel you would be staying at, so it was entirely your own choice to try to collect them in person.

<<“and we didn't have enough food on the train for the journey.”>>

They have restaurant cars on the train and you can also buy your own food on the train, so let’s not exaggerate the problem.

<<“Real Russia are systematically misleading customers as to the commission they will pay, even when explicitly asked what the mark up on the face value of the ticket is, they will not give an accurate answer”>>

When you do your weekly shop at Sainsbury’s or wherever do ask them what the mark up on the spuds or milk is? They are not obliged in anyway to tell you what their commission is and to be honest I think you’ve got some nerve even asking.

It’s a business not a charity with offices in London, Moscow with staff who are employed at both, all of which cost a lot of money to run so yes they are going to add whatever commission they need to keep food on the table and keep the business running…….if you think you can do things better then by all means give it a go.

New York
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3. Re: TransSiberian tickets Real Russia (www.realrussia.co.uk)

Are you sure you can do electronic tickets for international travel?

Moscow, Russia
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4. Re: TransSiberian tickets Real Russia (www.realrussia.co.uk)

For Moscow and St. Petersburg to Helsinki - yes, to Kiev and Minsk from Russia also yes, Moscow to Nice and Paris both ways. Prooflink in Russian: pass.rzd.ru/static/public/ru…

Banbury
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5. Re: TransSiberian tickets Real Russia (www.realrussia.co.uk)

<}Are you sure you can do electronic tickets for international travel?>>

I think for some routes they would need the actual ticket, but not for journeys within Russia.

Either way there's several options they could of chosen that wouldn't involve finding some local travel agency.

Bottom line they chose to go pick the tickets up, something that the OP didn't point out.

Moscow, Russia
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6. Re: TransSiberian tickets Real Russia (www.realrussia.co.uk)

> Are you sure you can do electronic tickets for international travel?

There was no international travel FROM Russia involved in the OP situation.

New York
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7. Re: TransSiberian tickets Real Russia (www.realrussia.co.uk)

Here is a google-translated part of the RZD FAQ

For which trains can be issued e-tickets ?

Russian domestic (except for Kaliningrad transit through the territory of Lithuania) ;

International in communication with the near abroad : the CIS and the Baltic States, as well as Abkhazia ;

Some international to far abroad:

Number 17/18 Moscow - Nice - Moscow;

Number 23/24 Moscow - Paris - Moscow;

Number 69/70 Saratov - Berlin - Saratov (including direct cars : Novosibirsk - Berlin , Chelyabinsk - Berlin Adler - Berlin, St. Petersburg - Berlin) ;

Number 32 Moscow - Helsinki ;

high-speed train " Allegro" departure from Russia to Finland.

Fast suburban trains with assigned seating... (not relevant)

So it looks like our OP is stuck w paper tickets and left to the tender mercies of the likes of realrussia. Too bad

Moscow, Russia
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8. Re: TransSiberian tickets Real Russia (www.realrussia.co.uk)

> it looks like our OP is stuck w paper tickets

Why on Earth is she? The only leg of her Russian journey requiring paper tickets is from some place in China to some place in Siberia, the rest of the tickets could have easily been electronic.

9. Re: TransSiberian tickets Real Russia (www.realrussia.co.uk)

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