Friend’s recommendation proves costly for couple

Rozailah paid RM59,950 for the umrah package for her family but the trip did not take place.

JOHOR BARU: A couple’s noble intention to help a friend who worked as a marketing officer with a travel agent in Pandan Indah, Ampang backfired when they were cheated of almost RM60,000.

Employees Provident Fund (EPF) officer Rozailah Abd Yarus, 52, and her husband Lef-Kol Hamadi Hassan, 56, had booked umrah (minor pilgrimage) packages with the company last year.

“We have known the marketing officer for about 10 years and decided to book the packages through him, ’’ Rozailah said when met at the Johor Baru Consumer Claims Tribunal at Menara Ansar.She said initially they had shortlisted two travel agents to buy umrah packages but decided to go with the company their friend had suggested.

The claimant paid RM6,550 each for eight adults, RM5,550 for a child under four years old and RM2,000 for a toddler.

“All in, I paid RM59,950 for 10 people in my family for the umrah package, ’’ said Rozailah.

She said they were scheduled to leave for Saudi Arabia on Dec 4 and return on Dec 15.

Rozailah said two payments of RM10,000 and RM20,000 were deposited into the company’s account on July 11 and four payments totalling RM29,950 the next day.

“Despite making full payment to the company six months before our departure date, they did not update us on our itinerary, ’’ she added.

The claimant called the company on Nov 1 and an employee said that they would get their travel itinerary on Nov 20.

However, when this did not happen, and as the travel date grew nearer, the couple became worried and decided to travel to Ampang to seek an explanation from the company.

“We were shocked when one of the employees told us that no bookings were made for our umrah packages in December, ’’ said Rozailah.

Later she learnt that the RM59,950 paid to the company had been used for other expenses and that the agency was not registered to handle umrah packages with the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry.

Tribunal president Norsiah Ujang ordered the respondent to return RM50,000 — the maximum penalty the tribunal can mete out — to the claimant within 14 days.

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