ED Magedson – Founder
CHICAGO HAJJ AND UMRAH GROUP, INC2818 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
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.
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.
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
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):
So this is where we're at:
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.
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