Customers demand action over delayed Hajj trips to Mecca for Bradford pilgrims (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Concerns raised over bookings made with Leeds Road travel agent Hajj & Umrah
Pilgrims have blasted a Bradford travel agents for “wrecking” their once in a lifetime pilgrimage to Mecca, with one would-be traveller claiming he has been left £40,000 out of pocket.
Such are the concerns raised about the Hajj & Umrah agents on Leeds Road, by customers that police were there last night to meet with the owner after the pilgrims turned up at the Trafalgar House police station yesterday demanding something be done amid claims the business had taken a million pounds in cash from customers.
Problems started last week when customer Saf Mohammed, from Hudders-field, got a call saying his October 11 trip would be delayed until October 13 because there was an issue with visas being obtained from the Saudi authorities.
Mr Mohammed, who had paid £6,500 for him and his mother to head to Saudi Arabia, was worried when firm arrangements still had not been set up by Monday. Along with fellow friends, Imran Khan, Imran Karim, Tariq Amin and Ashraf Manjothi he headed to the shop and refused to leave until 2am on Monday and Tuesday morning.
Police were called to the agents to move the customers on, but they are still claiming that the owner is refusing to take their calls, is refusing to refund their money and has yet to organise another pilgrimage for them with the deadline for anyone to be let into Saudi Arabia tomorrow.
Mr Karim, from Leeds, has paid £40,000 for 13 of his family members to go to Hajj, while Mr Amin has travelled from Manchester to try and sort the issues out before he heads to Birmingham to see his brother who is on a life-support machine.
Mr Mohammed has driven from Huddersfield every day to try and resolve the issue. He said: “The police are saying it’s a civil matter.
“They give us false promises and I want my money back.
“My mum is distressed as this was a journey of a lifetime and Saudi Arabia won’t let anyone in after Saturday.”
A message on the agents’ website said that “due to unforseen delays pilgrims travelling on the Hajj packages have been unable to depart for the Hajj on the original schedule.
“This is a very stressful situation for our pilgrims but we are working around the clock to provide alternative flight paths. We hope that ultimately circumstances that are out of our control will not prevent our pilgrims from performing the Hajj 1433.”
Mohammed Shahid, the pilgrim liason officer for Hajj & Umrah, said that passengers were their priority.
Mr Shahid said there were delays over booking because an airline had not honoured its agreement with the company, meaning flights had to be rearranged.
Mr Shahid said: “All our passengers are going to be performing Hajj and 99 per cent of people have agreed to rearrangements.
“There were unexpected delays in Saudi Arabia but all visas have been issued now.”
On the issue of refunds, he 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.”
He denied the agency only took cash and refused to say when flights would be leaving.
A police spokesman said they had received a number of reports in relation to a travel agents on Leeds Road with concerns over bookings Concerned customers can call Mr Shahid on 07983 431008.