Complaint Review: CHICAGO HAJJ AND UMRAH GROUP, INC
Zamir & Asmakahtun Z Kothawala DBA Chicago Hajj and Umrah Fraud, deception, lies, harassment, loss of $12,000. Chicago Illinois
*Consumer Comment: Zamir Kothawala NAVAID AHMED FRAUD
*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
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]....
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):
- It wasn't his fault.
- The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (...the third party...!) was at fault. They made the rule and enforced it on us.
- He didn't know about the deadline.
- 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.
- 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.
- We also proved the deadline information was clearly listed online and easily accessible to Hajj Agents filing the application for a hajj visa.
- He didn't know the date for the deadline.
- 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/reports/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. READ: Foreign websites steal our content
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