• Report: #1125836

Complaint Review: CHICAGO HAJJ AND UMRAH GROUP, INC

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  • Submitted: Sun, February 23, 2014
  • Updated: Sun, February 23, 2014

  • Reported By: GreenEggs — Chicago Illinois
CHICAGO HAJJ AND UMRAH GROUP, INC
2818 W Peterson Ave Chicago, Illinois USA

Zamir & Asmakahtun Z Kothawala DBA Chicago Hajj and Umrah Fraud, deception, lies, harassment, loss of $12,000. Chicago Illinois

*Consumer Comment: They do it every year

*Author of original report: Individual name details publicly available

*REBUTTAL Owner of company: Angry Review reguarding Personal Information

*General Comment: Allah always punishes those wo deliberately cause havoc in others lives!

*Consumer Comment: Terms and Conditions need to be carefully read

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We purchased a 2013 hajj package from them for two people. The total cost was approximately $12,000. We made full payment 6 months in advance (May 2013).

Based on the Terms and Conditions we signed, Chicago Hajj was responsible for "...making arrangements for the airlines, hotels, buses or any other services in connection with the performance of their Hajj..." This statement was followed up by disclaimers stating they could not be held responsible for the actions of third parties. There were other statements in there to not allow any legal action besides arbitration. 

In July 2013, several months after payment was made we received our itinerary and our visas (Saudi Arabia expects Hajj Agents to send in the visa applications and issues the visas through them). We did not like the long layover and instantly asked for it to be changed. Chicago Hajj said it was "...part of a standard group package. [continued below]....

......." and could not be changed. 

On the day of departure we learned there were only a few of us on the flight (not the whole group... i.e. standard group package thing was a lie). We flew out fine. 

At the start of our 11 hour layover in London Heathrow airport (midway through our travel), we approached gate staff with our boarding passes for entry into the waiting area. At this time British Airways staff informed us that we would not be able to embark on the plane for Jeddah. This was because our hajj visas did not allow entry into Jeddah after October 9th or 4th of Dhul Hijjah (based on the Saudi calendar).

We spent several hundred dollars making phone calls to Chicago Hajj's Zamir and Naveed.

  • Initially, they told us to argue with airport staff.
  • When that failed they told us to "wait" at that airport and they would get back to us. After this instruction they stopped picking up our phone calls.
  • We were stranded at the airport, they stopped picking up our phone, and they gave us bad instructions that insured we would remain stranded. 

British Airways staff informed us and other travelers that they had advised Chicago Hajj previously that the people with this itinerary would not be able to make it into Saudi. Chicago Hajj ignored this warning and did not tell us so we could take appropriate steps to cancel our purchases. 
We were turned back at London Heathrow. Airline staff booked us on a return flight back home. We returned home crushed and heartbroken.

Once we got back we immediately made a request for full refund and were told to wait two months (until November 2013) because Zamir (the owner) was out of the country. The frustration we felt at this point was incredible as the person handling the business (Naveed) lied and made several false statements. 

  • He told us we were the only ones to get sent back even though we knew other families that got returned.
  • He told us he had no contact with the owners, but then let things like this slip "...Zamir told me to say this to you..."

When Zamir got back we immediately contacted him. Before the discussion even began he told us he had already talked to his lawyer and we should get one if we were expecting any sort of refund. The reason he gave us was that

  • "Paying for a hajj doesn't insure hajj" and he couldn't help us because "...god didn't want us to perform hajj..."
  • We could have "...died of a heart attack..." and there would be no refund. (Somehow he associated the two scenarios as being similar). 
  • He blamed us for not "...arguing with the airport staff enough..." and indicated this was the cause for our being turned back. 
  • His other reasoning was "...it's not like you purchased a cell phone and can go return it for a full refund if you're not happy with it..."
  • The only form of resolution Zamir offered required us to pay him several thousand dollars more so he could set us up for next year's hajj (at a discounted rate). He expressed to us that we should be grateful he was even doing this. 

In subsequent mediation through the Chicago Better Business Bureau, his lawyer wrote strongly worded letters claiming the following excuses. These are listed in the sequential order in which they were sent to us (we would disprove one thing and they would follow-up with another one):

  1. It wasn't his fault.
    1. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (...the third party...!) was at fault. They made the rule and enforced it on us.
  2. He didn't know about the deadline.
    1. We called several other Hajj Agents and asked about this deadline and every one of them said the Saudi deadline is common knowledge to Hajj agents, otherwise there would be thousands of hajis getting turned back.
    2. A few of the Hajj Agents we contacted conjectured that Chicago Hajj deliberately put us on those flights hoping the Saudi Government would bend the rule if there were too many hajis on the flight.
    3. We also proved the deadline information was clearly listed online and easily accessible to Hajj Agents filing the application for a hajj visa. 
  3. He didn't know the date for the deadline. 
    1. The claim was that they couldn't tell what the day was in Gregorian because it was listed as a date from the Saudi calendar. 

So this is where we're at:

  • They took several thousand dollars from us and other hajj travelers. 
  • They arranged the travel in a matter that insured failure. 
  • They did not deliver the promised service. 
  • They've refused to take responsibility for any of their actions. 
  • They've lied throughout the process. 
  • They've made false, hurtful statements to us, our family, and people in our community.
  • We've left truthful, online reviews so others can know about their behavior and be extra cautious. Zamir has followed up by posting fake online reviews.
  • Zamir is now harassing us for actually telling people about what happened. 

 


This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 02/23/2014 06:44 AM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/CHICAGO-HAJJ-AND-UMRAH-GROUP-INC/Chicago-Illinois-60659/Zamir-Asmakahtun-Z-Kothawala-DBA-Chicago-Hajj-and-Umrah-Fraud-deception-lies-harass-1125836. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.

Ripoff Report has an exclusive license to this report. It may not be copied without the written permission of Ripoff Report.

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REBUTTALS & REPLIES:
1Author 3Consumer 1Employee/Owner
Updates & Rebuttals

#1 Consumer Comment

They do it every year

AUTHOR: Khalid - ()

I went on Hajj in 2011 and thankfully I went with another group. We shared the same hotel with Chicago Hajj and I heard dozens of horror stories on how this group was trying to cheap out on transportation and meals, did not follow through on promises, and were very mean people. At the end of Hajj, they just ask for peoples forgivness and try to tie it with the peoples hajj being accepted. I hope people are able to view this report and pick a different travel agency to do hajj with. 

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#2 Author of original report

Individual name details publicly available

AUTHOR: GreenEggs - ()

The individual names listed here of the owners/secretary are publicly available through the Illinois Secretary or State where Chicago Hajj and Umrah is incorporated.

You can do the search yourself at: ilsos.gov/corporatellc/

Also the names are no different than the ones they list on thier own website and are available in tons of reviews for Chicago Hajj and Umrah. Do a google search for "chicago hajj and umrah zamir" and you'll see what I mean. 

As far as the owner's other assertions - it is a continuation of the things we've been dealing with and don't come as a suprise to us. I'm just happy that he's finally made a statement as himself instead of the fake personas he's been using everywhere else.

So there is more of...

- refusing to take responsibility ("i was not even in the country")

- lying about what he did ("we tried to resolve the issue")

 

- casting illogical doubt on the customer's intentions ("they simply hang up", "they simply neglected all posibilities for resolution")

- accusing the customer of doing wrong ("they harrassed my employees", "violated my privacy with my company", "put me vulnerable to identity attacks over the net")

- casting doubt on the genuineness of of the review ("The report is very biased and almost fake to an extent")

As you can see it's not about resolving the issue. Zamir is primarily concerned with people in the community finding out about this.

Really, if you don't want people to find out about the bad stuff you're doing to your customers... then FIX what you've done... or at least STOP the business practices that screw customers out of $6,000 per person in the name of a religious duty.

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#3 REBUTTAL Owner of company

Angry Review reguarding Personal Information

AUTHOR: ChiHajUmrah - ()

The individual filed a"RipOff Report" under Chicago Hajj and Umrah under the circumstances that we tried to resolve the issue and they simply neglected all posibilities for resolution.

The constant reference to personal names in the report has violated my privacy with my company and has put me vulnerable to identity attacks over the net. 

The claim they make that they called us constantly is all but true. Post our instructions, they simply hang up in anger and started complaining about how horrible of a company we are.

At the point they requested refund, i was not even in the country and they harrassed my employees constantly as if they carried thousands of dollars in their pockets and would instantly give them refunds..

 

The report is very biased and almost fake to an extent. It also violates my privacy and safety over the internet!!

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#4 General Comment

Allah always punishes those wo deliberately cause havoc in others lives!

AUTHOR: True Believer - ()

I would just like to say that people have forgotten that they will one day die and go to their graves and have to answer to Allah for each and everything! If you are the person who was deceived I would recommend you submit your case in the highest court! In Allah's Court! I am looking into purchasing a Hajj package and I can not believe that people are trying to make so much money and are willing to mess up their image in the eyes of Allah. This message is to all the Hajj & Umrah travel agents and agencies. We will all die one day and dont forget we have to answer to Our supreme creator. Those who cheat and deceive others will be punished. How dare we as Muslims cheat and deceive on another or even those who are not Muslim. Please be better people you will not take anything with you to your grave. you will leave it all behind and go empty handed. If you have cheated someone or made profit off of them by taking advantage of them Allah will punish u. Sometimes that punishment will come in the face of illness, poverty, death of a loved one, suffering, and most importantly, when you die even Allah does not forgive those who have not been forgiven by the person they hurt. Chicago Hajj & Umrah if you have cheated those innocent people Inshahallah you will be punished. Wait for your punishment because when Allah punishes it is the most feared punishment of all! Be honest and if you have deceived those people then either refund them their money or get them a new package that they deserve. Beg for their forgiveness, dont ask them and Inshahallah Allah will forgive u! Shame on travel agencies putting such clauses in their contracts when they are selling tickets so Muslims may complete one of the Pillars of Islam! Who are you to interfere in Allah's work or make clauses! Leave Justice to Allah and have faith! Allah always does Justice, Always! To those people who were cheated I will pray for U that Allah does his Justice for U and Inshahallah Allah will reward U with A Hajj just knowing that your intention was true and have faith in Allah!

Thanks, 

Nida

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#5 Consumer Comment

Terms and Conditions need to be carefully read

AUTHOR: Sahmed - ()

It seems like this person is not familiar with how a business works. There are always loopholes but the business will alwasy flat out and say it and it is up to you to decide if you want to continue. In the terms and conditions is states clearly that "...Hajj and Umrah assumes no liability whatsoever for injury, damage, loss, accident, delay or irregularity which may be occaisioned...". It states this in the first paragraph of the terms and conditions, and if one signs a paper, they are basically saying that they are okay with that. There was no reason to get so upset at Chicago Hajj and Umrah as they provided you with tickets, hotels, everything they said they would and it was not their fault that you could not continue the journey. Even if it seems like it was, and even though the company was unable to fix the problem, they still stated in their terms and conditions that problems may occur and if that sheet was signed you were agreeing and were ready to accepet any loss. 

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