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Help! Does this genealogist sound legitimate?

Help! Does this genealogist sound legitimate?

Posted: 9 Oct 2013 8:44AM GMT
Classification: Query
I sent an inquiry to genealogiapolonica.com to find the ancestors of my great grandfather in Poland. I didn't know a lot about where he was from except somewhere in lower Poland. The website said she was a member of the PoIish Genealogist Society. I sent this person, Barbara Domagala, a LOT of information to work with over the course of a few weeks, including names of about 8 children and name of the home town of my great grandfather (Ratulow) that a Slovakian researcher found for me.
The Slovakian researcher was able to do his work online and only took a day or two to respond and the total cost was about $50, but he provided links to birth and death records and interpretations of the records and this ultimately provided the information on my great great grandmother's last name and the elusive location where she lived with my grandfather. The polish genealogist was not able to give me anything until she visited dioceses in Tarnow and Kracow. She visited Tarnow this week and then responded she had found 26 records for my great great grandmother and her ancestors including siblings and spouses. She is now requesting a fee of almost $1000 for the information of these ancestors on grandmothers side. She is supposed to visit the Kracow diocese to locate my grandfathers side in the next week or two, but I am a little scared because the fee was so high for grandmothers side and I have said all along that the most important thing was to find out my great great grandfathers information. I don't have thousands of dollars to spend.
My question is whether her fees are reasonable and whether she seems legitimate. I tried to locate a reference for her on genealogy sites and found nothing. Can anyone help?

Re: Help! Does this genealogist sound legitimate?

Posted: 11 Oct 2013 10:10PM GMT
Classification: Query
Hello

I would ask for a detailed breakdown of costs which make up the $1000 fee:
* travelling costs
* research fee per hour
* what precisely has she found - 26 records... are they indexes, copies of original documents?

Why did she research your grandmother's side first when your priority is your grandfather's side? Did you make it clear you wanted your grandfather's research to be carried out first? Did you know she was going to visit Tarnow?

If you have doubts then inform her that she is not to carry out any further research for now. Specifically tell her not to visit Kracow.

It's difficult to say if her fees are reasonable until you have a detailed invoice.

If she is genuine she will send you a detailed breakdown of the $1000 fee and you can take things from there. Just make sure you make it clear that she is to stop researching for now.

I research in the UK mainly and give really detailed invoices for my paid work, broken down into - * hourly research fees and what precisely I have done in the number of hours I am charging for
* exact costs of each copy document I will provide, eg, 2 birth certs at £x each, 4 copy census returns at £y each
* travel costs (including train ticket and copy credit card receipt)
* any other expenses/charges

I hope this helps. Remember you are the client and you instruct the researcher. If you need any more help please say.

Best wishes
Carol

Re: Help! Does this genealogist sound legitimate?

Posted: 11 Oct 2013 11:15PM GMT
Classification: Query
Thanks so much for the reply Carol! This researcher advertised on her website a service of finding ancestors for a flat rate of $49 and siblings/spouses of $24. I didn't realize when I sent in the request that it was a cost for each ancestor, and I left the sibling/spouses box unchecked, so I thought the cost was going to be limited. She did send me a breakdown saying she had found:
"Generally I have found 12 new direct ancestors, 14 siblings and spouses and quite a number of their children (their data is for free). The total cost of this part of the research is then 12*$49 + 14*$24 = $924."
Prior to the trip she asked what I was looking for and I told her I was looking to fill a whole tree, but first needed to find out the origins of my grandfather. Her trip to Tarnow was intended to see if he lived in the area where his wife was born, but prior to the trip I learned he was from Ratulow and she would need to visit Kracow for the records. She had already planned the Tarnow trip and so she went there.
After her request for payment I forwarded her about 1/4 of it and requested just my great grandmother's information and her parents and grandparents. She sent me a photograph copy of the birth record for my grandmother and 2 of her siblings. I'm not sure what to make of the experience yet. All of the documents were probably in the same diocese and I'm sure the biggest expense was probably getting there.
If you get a chance, take a look at her web site and see if it clear to you what I should be getting. I clicked something called the Platinum plan which was supposed to include a lot of free things. I certainly thought I would be getting more information than just one picture for $49....On the other hand, I know you researchers need expenses to operate and just don't know what is reasonable?

Re: Help! Does this genealogist sound legitimate?

Posted: 12 Oct 2013 5:17PM GMT
Classification: Query
Hello again

I've had a look at the website and in my view it is genuine.

However.... it does state the following are included in the platinum plan you ordered:

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Check what you’ll get free in PLATINUM plan!

gratis

Your family tree!
A collection of documents concerning your ancestors including birth, marriage and death records, photos, manifests and other!
Detailed description of each ancestor on carefully prepared person record! See example!
Migration analysis! You’ll finally understand where and when did your ancestors live!
A GEDCOM file you can share with your family all over the world!
A DVD with digital versions of all documents describing your family. Sharing and publishing was never so easy!
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From this I would say you are due to receive more than just a photograph; if you are asking for details of 1/4 of what she has found then you should have the 'detailed description of each ancestor on carefully prepared person record' (for the ones you have paid for), some sort of family tree, digital and original copies of documents and a GEDCOM file.

My advice would be to email her and say the cost is much higher than you were expecting, due the fact that you were not to know how many ancestors she would find. Tell her what you can afford in total and ask her for the platinum package for this (eg 1/4 or 1/2 of the people).

Tell her you would still like research carried out into your grandfather's side but you need to have more of an idea of final costs. Ask if you could set a limit on the of number of people she provides records for, amount to be spent etc and see what she proposes.

I think that $924 for all the items on the platinum plan list for 12 ancestors, 14 siblings & spouses plus children is reasonable. The problem is you didn't know she would find so much and therefore that the cost would be so much! Issues with translation could well have caused some confusion between you - her first language is Polish and yours, I'm assuming, is English. The translations (Polish, English & German) are pretty good but not perfect so it is understandable that some misunderstandings could arise (on both sides).

So in summary, I would be honest, explain your position and ask what she proposes so you get the information you need at the price you are expecting, and she is not left out of pocket. She will want to keep you as a customer and you need someone to research for you. For what it's worth, I've never yet had to use overseas companies but I would use this one for Polish research if the need arose in the future.

Oh and if you need UK research at any time, I'm your person :))

Good luck, I hope you manage to come to some agreement

Best wishes,
Carol

Re: Help! Does this genealogist sound legitimate?

Posted: 12 Oct 2013 7:05PM GMT
Classification: Query
Carol,
Thanks for the great advice! Here is an update since the last message I wrote. I sent enough money to cover the siblings, grandparents, and great grandparents of my great great grandmother. She has sent me the photos for births of the siblings and said the grandparents and great grandparents are shown on those. I had asked for an interpretation of a line on one of the birth records (to know what it said) and she said she could do it for $19.
At this point I surely wouldn't recommend this genealogists' service. I have sent her a request for the detailed sheet for each of the people and will be surprised if she replies. IF she had sent all of those things listed on her website I would be happy, but not with just the photos of births that I have to interpret myself. (Luckily I found a good website that shows what each column is for and can now do it myself) In my email to her I told her I was not happy with the cost for what I was receiving. I guess I will be looking for another genealogist in the Kracow area:)
Thanks for all of your advice and if I ever need to look for someone in the UK I would surely contact you!

Re: Help! Does this genealogist sound legitimate?

Posted: 12 Oct 2013 8:58PM GMT
Classification: Query
It's the weekend so give her a chance to respond. Let's hope she replies with the detailed info sheet for each person as advertised on the website.

If not, then keep emailing until you get what you have paid for. Keep your correspondence polite and to the point; write as if you expect to receive what you are asking for - 'When will I receive the
detailed info sheets please?' 'Will the family tree you supply be in written format as well as a GEDCOM file?' 'How long will the files take to reach me?' etc etc

Wishing you all the best
Carol

Re: Help! Does this genealogist sound legitimate?

Posted: 15 Oct 2013 5:35AM GMT
Classification: Query
Carol,
I wanted to give you an update. She replied very quickly the same day and gave me this answer which was well written and good to hear:

"of course you will receive all the other records like marriages and deaths! And all the stuff described in the Platinum Plan specification! The person records make sense only when the whole documentation is ready, but I can send you the starter for Antonia now as an open file that you'd supplement with the data that are not known to me and are know to you. The gedcom file is ready with the latest data, but it includes also not paid data. I can erase them and send it to you now if you want.

The idea of Platinum Plan is a long-term cooperation based on success-fee. Success is each new person you can add to your family tree. It cannot be based on full person's data, because records are often incomplete and sometimes there is no possibility to get some of them, even when a lot of information on the person are found. You will get all the records that survived. On the other hand, as for example Marcin and Anna's marriage record won't show any new persons, you'll get this record for free. You don't have to worry how would I receive the records and how much would I spend to get them. It might look expensive in the beginning but it is because of the boost of information and the type of galician records that usually show one more generation in the records. And that is a blessing, especially if we meet some 30 years gap in records, that normally would stop the research! Thanks to galician records even in such situation the further research is possible. Unfortunately even galician records prior ca. 1820 begin to be very poor in information. You'll see then that there will be much more documentation needed to provide a similar amount of data. You'll also see that completing the data and finishing the family tree would take several months, so the expenses divided by time won't be so high. While completing the documentation on different persons, I'll be sending you the personal records.

Should you have any further questions, feel free to ask. I want everything to be clear and I hope our cooperation will be successfull and finally you will be very satisfied with my service. It is always very important for me to have only satisfied clients, otherwise I won't be doing what I'm doing! "

This sounds like a very good genealogist and perhaps I was a little hasty (overzealous) in wanting to get everything right away. Thanks again for your advice in helping me through my panic attack! :)

Victor

Re: Help! Does this genealogist sound legitimate?

Posted: 16 Oct 2013 1:22PM GMT
Classification: Query
Hi Victor

Thanks for the update.

This is exactly what I hoped she would say! So glad to hear everything is clear and you are happy with the research.

Glad to have been able to help.

Best wishes,
Carol
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