Angry customers say they will take travel agency to court over Hajj problems (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Leeds Road firm under fire for trip problems
Unhappy customers are vowing to take a Bradford travel agency to court to get money back for Hajj trips they were unable to go on after flight dates were changed at the last minute.
Some say they have been left more than £40,000 out of pocket.
Hajj & Umrah agents, in Leeds Road, Bradford, has come under fire from those who went on the pilgrimage to Mecca, including one man whose brother died while he was away, for failing to arrange shuttle buses and a lack of organisation that left travellers forking out hundreds of pounds for taxis.
Trips costs £3,000 each, but flights this year were delayed because of visa issues with the Saudi authorities.
That meant some, including Saf Mohammed, of Huddersfield, Imran Karim, of Chapeltown, Leeds, and Ashraf Manjothi, were unable to go because they had organised days off work and childcare and could not travel on the new dates.
A letter they sent by recorded delivery to Hajj & Umrah gave November 19 as the deadline for repayments, but they say it has been ignored.
Mr Mohammed, who paid £6,000, said: “I have tried ringing them and when I say who I am they hang up.
“We are going to take legal action because it is the only way to get our money back.
“I am glad I didn’t go now because people who did said they had a bad experience.”
Mr Karim, who has potentially lost £36,000 for 11 family members, said that he was hoping to get “every single penny back”.
“They didn’t stick to the package terms and I don’t see them being able to pay up, so we are taking legal action,” he said.
“You mentally prepare yourself a year in advance and they have to be responsible for this.”
A Bradford man, who wanted to remain anonymous, and who did go on the trip, said he spent hundreds of pounds on taxis and is still waiting for his luggage despite arriving back on November 13.
Mr Amin, whose brother died in the UK while he was away at Hajj, said: “Up to 15 people were sharing one bathroom and there was no furniture in the rooms.
“I spent £200 on taxis as the fares were triple what they should have been and there were no shuttle buses. I want to make sure they can’t offer Hajj in the future.”
Attempts by the Telegraph & Argus to contact Hajj & Umrah this week have been unsuccessful, but last month Mohammed Shahid, the pilgrim liaison officer for the agents, said: “Refunds will be issued for all those people we haven't been able to accommodate.
“With regards to full refunds, we are not in a position to give you that information.”
A spokesman for ATOL, a bond scheme that protects people from losing money or becoming stranded abroad if a travel company collapses, said: “Unfortunately, this situation relates to the contract between the customer and the travel company, so the Civil Aviation Authority is not able to intervene, because while ATOL provides financial protection in the event of insolvency, it does not cover wider disputes.
“The company has not ceased trading so customers who did not receive the trip they paid for should contact them for a refund in the first place. If the issue is not resolved they should contact their local Trading Standards and/or Citizens Advice.
“We will co-ordinate with Trading Standards to ensure we are able to act as appropriate should consumers not get a satisfactory outcome.”