Expats Center offers one-stop help for Prague's foreigners

A new web portal offers quality-controlled service providers in many languages

Expats living in Prague face many of the same problems, and finding consistently high-quality help can be difficult.

Some websites have long lists of contacts, but no help in choosing the right one. Social media sites with crowd-sourced suggestions can yield mixed results.

A recently launched website called Expats Center uses quality-controlled service providers to help expats with many issues from important paperwork to finding a handyman that speaks their language.

French expats Damien Kohut and Vincent Charollais are the driving forces behind Expats Center. Kohut began as a financial adviser but found that many expats needed help in other fields that he was not experienced in. Together with Charollais he began to put together a team that could offer more help. “Now we are a group of expats helping expats. Who is better than an expat to understand expats?” Kohut said.

The web portal they created is “dedicated to expats, and designed by expats to satisfy expats.”

People have contacted them for help finding lawyers, translating paperwork, renewing visas and so on. The portal can cover all of those topics and more.

“We just have this one web portal that is very easy to access and very easy to use, so the client is not overwhelmed. It is not a directory where you find so many addresses, and you don't know what to pick,” Charollais said.

People can go to the portal and find the service they are looking for, and place a request. They will get an initial response that they are going to be helped, and then a service provider should contact them within 24 to 48 hours.

“I personally see each and every request. It is automatically sent to one of our partners, but If I see a mismatch I will redirect the request myself. There will always be human oversight of every request,” Charollais said.

The price of the service is also closely monitored, and going through the Expats Center portal costs no more than going directly to the same service provider. In some cases, there is a discount.

“We have verified the quality of the services of our partners, and we have verified the prices as well. In the past, it has been like a religion in Prague that as a foreigner you will be overcharged. So [with the Expats Center] you get the right service at the right price at the right quality,” Kohut said.

When a new service partner signs up they go through an evaluation process to check the quality of their service and prices. “We have a seal that it is approved by the Expats Center that is displayed on the page. You are physically sure you are going to get what you need, in the right conditions,” Kohut said.

There are multiple partners for important topics, and requests will also be directed based on language. “People prefer to speak their native language,” Kohut said.

“We are trying to get as many services as you may need. Personal trainers, and in the future hairdressers,” Kohut said.

There are chat pages on social media that expats can use, but there do not offer the same quality of results. “It depends who is responding to these posts to recommend somebody. It is not necessarily the best source of information as you may have like 10 recommendations and at the end, you still don't know where to go,” Kohut said.

“And sometimes people are just recommending their friends. It is crowd information, and sometimes you may be satisfied, but you are never sure what you will get,” Kohut said.

“With the Expats Center you have people that have checked the services of the provider and are sure according to the request you put in that you are going to get the service you need at the right price and the right quality,” Kohut said.

The center also welcomes feedback to improve its service. “We want to make it the most useful and expat-friendly experience possible. You can contact us and chat directly on how to improve it or recommend partners we should work with.” Charollais said.

For more visit www.expats.center

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