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Queenie52

Paying for tours in St Petersburg

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Hello can anyone help? 

We have booked a two day tour of St Petersburg with T J Tours and have been quoted a price in dollars. We would prefer to pay in cash but the website says they only accept Rubles. Has anyone been on this tour and paid in dollars?  I am assuming if we ask them how much the tour is in Rubles we will get their exchange rate? 

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1 hour ago, Queenie52 said:

Hello can anyone help? 

We have booked a two day tour of St Petersburg with T J Tours and have been quoted a price in dollars. We would prefer to pay in cash but the website says they only accept Rubles. Has anyone been on this tour and paid in dollars?  I am assuming if we ask them how much the tour is in Rubles we will get their exchange rate? 

 

 

we had this issue last year-they assume everyone is American and quote in dollars even though can only accept payment on the day in roubles-cash or credit cards[they convert dollars to roubles at exchange rate on the day]

 

our first trip there a few years ago they quoted in dollars and we were able to pay in dollars-crisp new notes we got from our high street travel bureau

 

However since then laws changed and they can only accept payment in local currency ie roubles but they continue to quote in US Dollars and will give rate of day when coming to pay

 

Like you we are from UK and it made no sense to have 2 sets of foreign transaction conversions so insisted on getting a quote from the start in roubles

it actually worked in our favour as rouble versus dollar rate changed

 

so if you can get cash roubles from high street you can pay that way

 

we used a credit card with no foreign transaction fees and paid agreed rate in roubles on the day

 

that was also with TJ

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2 hours ago, Queenie52 said:

Hello can anyone help? 

We have booked a two day tour of St Petersburg with T J Tours and have been quoted a price in dollars. We would prefer to pay in cash but the website says they only accept Rubles. Has anyone been on this tour and paid in dollars?  I am assuming if we ask them how much the tour is in Rubles we will get their exchange rate? 

Did you contact TJ to specifically ask your question or are you relying solely on the website and prefer to ask on CC rather than the tour provider?

 

I did a tour with TJ this spring and communicated via email with their office. I paid my excursion prior with my credit card. On the day of the  tour, those who had not paid in full, paid immediately after meet and greet at the first stop, specifically for tour payment, at a souvenir store. I did not see anyone pay in rubles. One couple, and only one couple, brought rubles to tip the guide/driver.

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We booked with Anastasia Travel last May and the tour was also quoted in USD but paid in Rubles when we used our credit card. I think this is the Russian banks' policy especially when paying online and with credit card. If you prefer to pay in cash on the day of the tour, I think there won't be any problem with paying in USD.  I suggest you contact your tour operator to clarify things. 

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16 minutes ago, flowslow said:

 If you prefer to pay in cash on the day of the tour, I think there won't be any problem with paying in USD.  I suggest you contact your tour operator to clarify things. 

The tour operator could get in serious trouble with the Russian tax authorities if they accept cash payment in any currency other than rubles - this has already happened to one particular tour operator that accepted cash payments in USD and failed to report the income. 

One now has the options of payment via credit card or cash payment in rubles.

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A few years back, like Fab&40+, we were quoted in USD so we took USD and paid in cash. That avoided any grief with what exchange rates were used.

But as per Dogs4's post, Russian law has changed - payment must be in roubles, either cash roubles or credit card charged in roubles.

 

I'm very wary of being quoted in one currency & charged in another - put that down to my naturally-suspicious nature, and usually it's rightly suspicious.

But that law changed 2 or 3 years ago and I've not seen any complaints about local tour operators in St P. using unfair exchange rates, they do seem to be a fair and reasonable crowd.

But if we return I think I'd want to do the same as Fab&40+ and get quoted in roubles.

 

BTW we do like the comfort of having some local currency wherever we go. So we took a few roubles with us, enough for the guide's tip. 

Altho meals were included in the tour, the restaurants used by Alla accepted only cash roubles for extras.

So we had beers while everyone else had tap water from the jug on the table.

We then made up the tip shortfall with euros.

 

JB :classic_smile:  

 

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We paid TJ with a credit card (no fees) and the transaction was exactly as quoted in $$.  The guides will graciously accept any tips in dollars, Euros or Rubles.  They were a wonderful company to tour with.  Enjoy!

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18 hours ago, flowslow said:

If you prefer to pay in cash on the day of the tour, I think there won't be any problem with paying in USD.  I suggest you contact your tour operator to clarify things. 

 

i do not believe you can legally pay in anything other than rubles.  something about off the books transactions, undeclared income, and tax evasion.   i thought i read somewhere that one of the big tour operators is in trouble for this exact thing.

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Did you contact TJ to specifically ask your question or are you relying solely on the website and prefer to ask on CC rather than the tour provider?
 
I did a tour with TJ this spring and communicated via email with their office. I paid my excursion prior with my credit card. On the day of the  tour, those who had not paid in full, paid immediately after meet and greet at the first stop, specifically for tour payment, at a souvenir store. I did not see anyone pay in rubles. One couple, and only one couple, brought rubles to tip the guide/driver.
Great info thank you.
We are flying from Australia & did wonder why tour's are quoted in US$
We will pay by credit card before hand.

Sent from my SM-J530Y using Tapatalk

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On 7/11/2019 at 9:49 PM, dethman said:

 

i do not believe you can legally pay in anything other than rubles.  something about off the books transactions, undeclared income, and tax evasion.   i thought i read somewhere that one of the big tour operators is in trouble for this exact thing.

You are correct on both counts. Legally, payment must be in the national currency and you are right - one of the big tour operators is in trouble for accepting payments in foreign currency and failing to pay taxes.

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We paid by CC last month. They stopped at their office in a gift shop the end of the first day of touring for us to pay. It was an easy transaction. We liked that they don’t require a deposit. We were very pleased with the TJ 2 day tour; it was well-organized and thorough! 

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6 hours ago, cruisequeen4ever said:

We paid by CC last month. They stopped at their office in a gift shop the end of the first day of touring for us to pay. It was an easy transaction. We liked that they don’t require a deposit. We were very pleased with the TJ 2 day tour; it was well-organized and thorough! 

 

The same routine as with Alla (a few years back), probably the same shop, but on the second morning.

 

We were able to browse & buy (excellent selection, from tourist tat to good quality) while the guide dealt with folks' tour payments one-by-one. Efficient & time-saving way to do it. Free coffee & clean bathroom too.

No pressure selling, goods were priced (in USD & Euros, tho that's probably changed now), pay cash or plastic.

 

Very happy with our Alla tour, but I've yet to see any big negatives about any of the local tour operators. :classic_smile:

 

JB :classic_smile:

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4 hours ago, John Bull said:

Very happy with our Alla tour, but I've yet to see any big negatives about any of the local tour operators. :classic_smile:

 

JB :classic_smile:

Agree with JB - if you check the reviews on TripAdvisor you will see that all of the local tour operators receive uniformly good reviews (with just the occasional petty gripe from the "impossible to please"). It really matters little with whom you book - you will receive a good tour from all of the top companies (and even some of the smaller outfits) - their flat rate group tours all visit the same venues and there is very little price differential (depending on the chosen tour) . Contact several vendors and see which offers the best "feel" for you, personally.

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Should I be worried that the company I'm booking with told me my deposit would be charged in dollars? Which company got in trouble for undeclared income?

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On 7/22/2019 at 6:13 PM, fluffybunny22 said:

Should I be worried that the company I'm booking with told me my deposit would be charged in dollars? Which company got in trouble for undeclared income?

This is a problem of the company and/or tax office. It's obviously not your problem.

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Posted (edited)
On 7/22/2019 at 9:13 AM, fluffybunny22 said:

Should I be worried that the company I'm booking with told me my deposit would be charged in dollars? Which company got in trouble for undeclared income?

It is not illegal if the deposit is charged in dollars and actually paid in rubles. Most of the top tier operators list their prices in USD but when you pay, it is actually paid in rubles (via credit card). 

Even if a company accepted payment in a currency other than rubles, it is not your problem - it would only be an issue for the tour operator if they do not declare said income (and are caught by the tax authorities). The operator that had problems with the tax authorities was accepting cash payments in USD and euros and not reporting the income. It sounds like your deposit will be paid via credit card? 

Edited by dogs4fun

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1 hour ago, dogs4fun said:

It is not illegal if the deposit is charged in dollars and actually paid in rubles. Most of the top tier operators list their prices in USD but when you pay, it is actually paid in rubles (via credit card). 

Even if a company accepted payment in a currency other than rubles, it is not your problem - it would only be an issue for the tour operator if they do not declare said income (and are caught by the tax authorities). The operator that had problems with the tax authorities was accepting cash payments in USD and euros and not reporting the income. It sounds like your deposit will be paid via credit card? 

I asked specifically what currency the deposit would be paid in because I wanted to make sure I wasn't charged a foreign transaction fee and was told the currency was dollars. Turns out it doesn't matter because my everyday card doesn't have a foreign transaction fee according to my husband.

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37 minutes ago, fluffybunny22 said:

I asked specifically what currency the deposit would be paid in because I wanted to make sure I wasn't charged a foreign transaction fee and was told the currency was dollars. Turns out it doesn't matter because my everyday card doesn't have a foreign transaction fee according to my husband.

Great - sounds like you are good to go! Enjoy your cruise.

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I did a tour with Best Guides, the cost was confirmed  in dollars and paid by CC ... in rubles, it was no other choices, their machine worked only with rubles. They recalculated  US $ to rubles   according to their Central Bank rate for the day of payment.

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On 7/31/2019 at 12:02 AM, Sea,Sun&Sail said:

 

 

I did a tour with Best Guides, the cost was confirmed  in dollars and paid by CC ... in rubles, it was no other choices, their machine worked only with rubles. They recalculated  US $ to rubles   according to their Central Bank rate for the day of payment.

 

I mean they didn't ask for a deposit at all and we paid on the second day of our tour

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On 7/11/2019 at 9:28 AM, Jezabel2924 said:

We paid TJ with a credit card (no fees) and the transaction was exactly as quoted in $$.  The guides will graciously accept any tips in dollars, Euros or Rubles.  They were a wonderful company to tour with.  Enjoy!

This is what we just did too.  We didn't pay until our second day almost at the very end of our trip.  

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No one had issues using their credit cards in Russia?

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On 7/10/2019 at 8:33 PM, Queenie52 said:

Hello can anyone help? 

We have booked a two day tour of St Petersburg with T J Tours and have been quoted a price in dollars. We would prefer to pay in cash but the website says they only accept Rubles. Has anyone been on this tour and paid in dollars?  I am assuming if we ask them how much the tour is in Rubles we will get their exchange rate? 

Im also looking at booking 2 days with TJ, having heard great reviews uniformly about them. Out of interest, how much were you look at for 2 days private van hire, with guide? (we are 6 adults plus 3 children, but the children are free base don their young age). We will actually look for two 6 hr days max, due to the children, so we can't do anything 8-10hrs long on a given day. Wonder if shorter hours will affect the pricing?!

 

thanks!

 

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Hi 

We did the two day tour and I can't recommend TJ Tours highly enough! The whole experience was amazing. We were in a mini bus for 10 people (with wifi and water) and we went absolutely everywhere! Our guide Alex was lovely and so knowledgable - she got us in to all the busy places without queuing, she even knew where the less crowded loos where! Her art knowledge in the Hermitage was outstanding.We even went down a subway (a fabulous experience!) as the mini bus was able to get up all the little side streets and dodge the traffic!  The first day went from 8.30am - 6.00pm and the second day from 7.30am - 4-00pm. We were on boat trips and driving in the mini bus so it didn't feel too long and we were back at the boat in plenty of time. 

We were charged 240$ each (with a discount for being on Cruise Critic) and we asked for a price in Rubles before we went and took the cash we had exchanged using John Lewis including cash for tips. In fact we got a better exchange rate on the day and so spent what we had left in the souvenir shop at the end of the trip where you pay (they seemed to give the best value for money too!). All in all a fabulous trip. I would expect that if you wanted a shorter day you would have to work out what you didn't mind missing and that depends on how young your children are. The Hermitage was amazing but very busy and we did see some very bored looking youngsters trawling around there. They would probably love the boat trip and the hydrofoil to Peterhof and the subway ( as long as they are ok on the longest escalator in the world!). 

Hope that is useful for you! 

Queenie 

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