Would-be pilgrims left high and dry by tour operator

A TOUR operator was ordered to refund close to RM60,000 for failing to deliver on two umrah packages to separate families in Johor.

Johor Consumer Claims Tribunal president Hafez Zalkapli gave the Putrajaya-based operator two weeks to pay up, after hearing the two cases filed against it.

In the first case, a technician, Mohd Zul ‘Atif Mohd Shapee, 33, had bought an umrah (minor pilgrimage) tour package for his family and deposited RM30,000 via bank transfer on Oct 11, 2022.

The tour operator informed the group of six that they would be leaving Malaysia for Saudi Arabia on May 15, 2023, for the 12-day, 10-night trip.

“We did not depart on the scheduled date as the company claimed they had to postpone due to unforeseen circumstances,’’ Mohd Zul ‘Atif said when met outside the tribunal office in Menara Ansar, Johor Baru.

By August last year, they had already paid RM52,740 or RM8,790 each person for the standard package before deciding to upgrade to the premium package.Rahimah paid RM10,000 deposit for two umrah packages.Rahimah paid RM10,000 deposit for two umrah packages.

“We paid another RM700 for six persons for the premium package, bringing the total sum to RM56,940,’’ he said.

The group was given a new departure date on Sept 13, 2023, only for the trip to be postponed again as the company was undergoing restructuring exercises.

Disappointed, the claimant filed a case with the tribunal to get a refund of RM48,540 from the company, as they were unable to perform the umrah.

Hafez ordered the respondent, who did not attend the hearing, to refund the money to the claimant within two weeks.

In the second case involving the same tour operator, online clothing company owner Rahimah Alias, 38, said she paid a RM10,000 deposit for two 12-day, 10-night umrah packages priced at RM7,000 per person for herself and her 37-year-old husband, Ammar Shahril Badruddin, on Jan 16, 2022.

The couple were told that they would depart for Saudi Arabia from KL International Airport in November 2022.

However, the company postponed the trip, first to December 2022, and then again to January 2023, citing operational problems.

The claimant wrote a letter to the company in February last year, asking for a refund but received no response. She then filed the case at the tribunal.

Hafez ordered the company to refund RM10,000 to Rahimah within two weeks.

Those who need assistance with regards to tribunal matters can call 07-227 1755/ 1766.

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