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LegalGems
LegalGems, Lawyer
Category: Consumer Protection Law
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Experience:  Research Attorney; Private Practice; Attorney Mentor; Mediator
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I have been scammed by a travel agent at NY. I wanted to go

Resolved Question:

I have been scammed by a travel agent at NY. I wanted to go for pilgrimage in Saudia Arabia. This agency could not arrange my visa now they are not giving my money back (6150$).
can I get legal help?
Thank you,
Shafi Arifuzzaman
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Expert:  LegalGems replied 1 year ago.

LegalGems :

Hi! LegalGems here. My goal: To Do My Best To Assist You. Please remember, I can only provide general information,as this is a public forum.

LegalGems :

Was arranging for the visa part of the contractual agreement you had with the travel agency?

Customer: LIABILITIES & RESPONSIBILITIES

 


 


1) ONCE PARTIAL PAYMENT OR FULL PAYMENT HAS BEEN MADE, IF ANY DATE CHANGES OCCURE THEN PENALTY AND FARE DIFFERENCE WILL BE APPLIED.


2) IN RARE CIRCUMSTANCES, IF PASSENGER IS UNABLE TO TRAVEL DUE TO DELAY IN VISA STAMPING THE TICKET MONEY WILL BE REFUNDED AT MINIMUM OF 90 DAYS TIME;UMRAH VISA FEE AND HOTEL IN MEKKAH AND MEDINAH ARE NON-REFUNDABLE.


3) ONCE THE PASSPORTS ARE SUBMITTED TO THE SAUDIA CONSULATE, IF FOR ANY REASON THE PASSPORTS DON’T GET STAMPED BEFORE THE PASSENGER’S DEPARTURE DATE, THEN PASSENGER IS RESPONSIBLE FOR DATE CHANGE FEE AND FARE DEFFENCES.

Customer:

this was their argeement

Customer:

They did not give me any proof that they submitted my passport for Saudi visa

LegalGems :

Does it say anywhere in the agreement that the agency is responsible for securing the visa (as opposed to the customer securing it)?

Customer:

they only had these 3 lines in the agree ment

Customer:

the saudia visa was closed for longer

Customer:

I got email from them on 7/19 that they bought my plane ticket

Customer:

and submitted my passport for SA visa

Customer:

but in my passport there is no sign of visa application

Customer:

neither they showed me any proof that they submitted for my visa application or whether they have done any hotel reservation on SA

Customer:

I send them money and all necessary document because I can not secure the visa

Customer:

the visa has to be done through the travel agency

LegalGems :

OK. so the fact that they emailed you showing they submitted passport for the visa indicates it was their responsibility. So if they failed to do so (especially if they failed to exercise due diligence) you can bring a breach of contract action. In what country is the travel agency located?

Customer:

Ny

Customer:

AL HIDAYA INC


TRADE SKY TRAVEL



72-32 BROADWAY SUITE 206 JACKSON HEIGHTS, NY 11372


PHONE:(NNN) NNN-NNNN; FAX:(NNN) NNN-NNNN/p>

LegalGems :

Oh, perfect, so the USA has jurisdiction. Are you in NY?

Customer:

I am in Hillsboro Or

Customer:

I have documented all the events

Customer:

can I send you that email with all the proofs

LegalGems :

Thank you for the extra information; that is helpful. So you can file suit in OR based on the long arm statute (no, I'm sorry ; we can't review specific documents as that is against the terms of the site..)

LegalGems :

since the NY company does business in OR. You can file for breach of contract, requesting refund of all monies paid. Alternatively, if you book another trip, you can ask for the increased costs as damages (say the first trip was to be $5K but you had to pay $8K for the same trip by virtue of using a different travel agency, despite trying to mitigate/avoid these damages; your damages would be $3K). You can also request attorney fees and costs. However, if the trip is not in the immediate future, it may be best to send the company (preferably a supervisor) a demand letter, requesting that they procure the visa immediately (generally you can expedite this for a fee but I am not familiar with Saudi Arabia's rules) and provide you with the itinerary and tickets.

LegalGems :

Let me see if I can find you a sample demand letter.

Customer:

my plan was to visit my home country Bangladesh.

Customer:

on the way to home I wanted to do umrah

Customer:

that means pilgrimage

Customer:

she was very emotional about it.

Customer:

one can only apply for pilgrimage visa of saudia Arabia through their authorized travel agency

Customer:

this travel agent assured that they will arrange for visa, hotel and our plane ticket to Portland to SA to bangladesh

Customer:

once I provided all supporting documents I had lots of difficulty to reach them over phone

Customer:

they were not even responding to my email

Customer:

I paid that money by a bank check

Customer:

then they started sending me wrong itinirity

Customer:

after 2 wrong booking I got annoyed and was harsh with them

Customer:

then they provided me with a reasonable booking

Customer:

on 7/19 they told me that every thing looks loog

Customer:

good

Customer:

then they told me that there is an uncertainty with getting SA visa

Customer:

they kept on dealying

Customer:

then I told them I can not wait since I took day off from my work and wanted to go home even I can not get the pilgrimage visa

Customer:

I looked online and plane ticket for my wife and me was only around 3300$

Customer:

on the other hand we paid 6150$

Customer:

for the package of the pilgrimage and visiting home

Customer:

on 7/18 I asked them for a definite answer whether they can arrange for a visa or not

Customer:

they told me that they will confirm on Friday 7/19

Customer:

on Friday they told me that they need more time till 7/24

LegalGems :

I am very sorry to hear of this; this must be extremely upsetting given the nature of the trip. Have you checked with the better business bureau or www.ripoffreport.com to determine if this agency is a scam?

Customer:

no

LegalGems :

I would suggest that you first do that. I'll wait while you do if you would like.

Customer:

I was carried over - I did not realize that people would scan with someone who wants to go for pilgrimage

Customer:

it is very emotional

Customer:

my wife cried a lot

LegalGems :

Please look into that while I look into some other avenues. When is your trip planned for?

Customer:

I scheduled it on 8/3 to 9/1

Customer:

when I asked them who is going to cover additional cost if they are still unable to mange visa

LegalGems :

Oh; so in reality you won't be able to go unless you go with this agency, correct?

Customer:

no

Customer:

I will not go for pilgrimage now

Customer:

I did some research

Customer:

I think the saudia visa for this year was closed earlier then 7/19

Customer:

this agency wanted to take advantage of the contract they made with me and gobble up my money

Customer:

I bought a separate plane ticket to visit my home

Customer:

from website

Customer:

they were not even retiring my passport

Customer:

finally I told them that I will report this to police and then they send me usps tracking number

Customer:

I got back my passport

Customer:

now they have no word on how they are going to give my money back

Customer:

they have not responded my email request on this

LegalGems :

I am very sorry to hear this. I am reviewing some law right now but it is very detailed; if you could wait a few moments while I review some information.

Customer:

sure please

Customer:

AL HIDAYA INC


TRADE SKY TRAVEL



72-32 BROADWAY SUITE 206 JACKSON HEIGHTS, NY 11372


PHONE:(NNN) NNN-NNNN; FAX:(NNN) NNN-NNNN/p>


 


“Then hasten on from the Place from which the people hasten on and ask the forgiveness of Allah; surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.” 2:199 (AL-QURAN)



TRADE SKY TRAVEL WILL PROVIDE YOU WITH AIR TICKECT, UMRAH VISA, HOTEL, AND GUIDE. OUR GUIDE WILL HELP YOU TO PERFORM UMRAH IN AN ORDERLY MANNER. OUR GUIDE WILL BE AVAILBLE UPON YOUR REQUEST WHILE YOUR STAY IN MEKKAH AND MEDINA.



THE DOCUMENTS THAT ARE NEEDED FOR UMRAH VISA ARE AS FOLLOWING:



1) PASSPORT, IF BANGLADESHI PASSPORT THEN A COPY OF GREEN CARD IS REQUIRED


2) IF HUSBAND AND WIFE ARE TRAVELING, THEN A COPY OF MARRIAGE CERTIFICATE IS REQUIRED


3) IF CHILDREN ARE TRAVELING WITH PARENTS, THEN CHILDREN’S BIRTH CERTIFICATE IS REQUIRED


4) 2 PASSPORT SIZE PICTURE, MUST BE IN WHITE BACKGROUD


5) MENINGITIS VACCINATON MUST BE TAKEN BY ADULTS AND FOR CHILDREN COPY OF THEIR HEALTH CARD/VACCINATION CARD IS REQUIRED.


 


LIABILITIES & RESPONSIBILITIES

 


 


1) ONCE PARTIAL PAYMENT OR FULL PAYMENT HAS BEEN MADE, IF ANY DATE CHANGES OCCURE THEN PENALTY AND FARE DIFFERENCE WILL BE APPLIED.


2) IN RARE CIRCUMSTANCES, IF PASSENGER IS UNABLE TO TRAVEL DUE TO DELAY IN VISA STAMPING THE TICKET MONEY WILL BE REFUNDED AT MINIMUM OF 90 DAYS TIME;UMRAH VISA FEE AND HOTEL IN MEKKAH AND MEDINAH ARE NON-REFUNDABLE.


3) ONCE THE PASSPORTS ARE SUBMITTED TO THE SAUDIA CONSULATE, IF FOR ANY REASON THE PASSPORTS DON’T GET STAMPED BEFORE THE PASSENGER’S DEPARTURE DATE, THEN PASSENGER IS RESPONSIBLE FOR DATE CHANGE FEE AND FARE DEFFENCES.



 


DATE CHANGE FEE -$275


CANCELLATION BEFORE DEPARTURE- $395


CANCELLATION AFTER DEPARTURE – NON REFUNDABLE


 


 


I AGREE TO THE ABOVE TERMS AND CONDITIONS.




PRINT NAME .



SIGNATURE .



DATE .

Customer:

this was a form that i signed and send to them

Customer:

. Quotation for 4 day Hotel: $390 per person. So package price for 4 days Umrah: Ticket: 2510 + Visa:175 + Hotel: 390= $3075 per person


 

Customer:

this is their breakdown of the fees

Customer:

last time when they informed that they can not manage the visa they also told me that they might refund me part of ticket fee but no less then in 3/4 months

LegalGems :

So based on this information, if they cannot obtain a visa they will refund the money within 90 days. When did they advise they weren't able to obtain a visa?

Customer:

Friday 7/19

LegalGems :

So based on the above, they have until October to refund your money. One moment please I am still reviewing some laws.

Customer:

sure please take your time

LegalGems :

New York does regulate travel agencies so you can file a complaint; however, if under the terms of the contract they have 90 days to refund, you wouldn't really be able to complain unless they fail to refund within the 90 day period. One moment please.

Customer:

ok

LegalGems :

I don't think this portion of the statute is relevant to you, but I'm including it just for reference: http://codes.lp.findlaw.com/nycode/GBS/10-A/157-a - reviewing the remaining code sections.

LegalGems :

This is the one that has some substance to it: http://codes.lp.findlaw.com/nycode/GBS/10-A/158

LegalGems :

http://codes.lp.findlaw.com/nycode/GBS/10-A/159 - this one addressed the penalties involved if the last statute I cited was in fact violated. The best way to address a violation is to file a complaint with the attorney general in NY.

Customer:

should i dot now

Customer:

should I do it now?

LegalGems :

The problem is - the damage is already done; you don't get to go on your pilgrimage. So you will likely receive reimbursement for monies expended; but you still won't have your trip. And as you stated - that is not OK. You may want to send a final demand letter to the agency asking them to expedite the visa process so that you can go on the next possible opening (I'm not sure how long it normally takes to get a visa). If they are unable to help you, you may want to file with the attorney general so they investigate this, as this could result in sanctions to the travel agency so that others are not put in the situation this company put you in.

Customer:

i do not want to deal with them any more

Customer:

i will be happy if i can get back my money

LegalGems :

You can either file a civil suit, or you can file with the AG and see what comes of that. However, you may want to send a demand letter requesting the return of your money paid to date. Let me get you a sample. I am sorry - your family is very disappointed.

Customer:

yes please

LegalGems :

Here you go:


www.mass.gov/ago/docs/consumer/conprotlaw.rtf This is from the government of Mass and deals with unfair and deceptive trade practices act. You will need to modify it to address NY's travel statute.

Customer:

how do i file with AG?

LegalGems :

Let me get you that.

Customer:

how should i send them demand letter? postal mail or e mail

LegalGems :

Certified, return receipt requested. But you can also send it via email - just follow up with the certified.

Customer:

I will send one

Customer:

thx for your help

LegalGems :

You are very welcome. I hope you are able to arrange a pilgrimage in the near future; Take care.

Customer:

u too

LegalGems :

Night.

Customer:

bye good night

LegalGems, Lawyer
Satisfied Customers: 3513
Experience: Research Attorney; Private Practice; Attorney Mentor; Mediator
LegalGems and 17 other Consumer Protection Law Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  LegalGems replied 1 year ago.
I wanted to be sure and thank you for using JA/Pearl.

I hope you found the information I provided useful. I am so sorry your pilgrimage goals were not realized; I find it particularly disturbing as my best friend's parents went on pilgrimage last year and despite being the ripe age of 74 and 75 they said it was the most fulfilling experience of their life.

If you would like to request me for your future legal inquires, please put TO LEGAL GEMS in front of the question, and I will do my best!
Take care.

Please be sure and complete the customer satisfaction survey the site will be sending you so that I can continue to provide affordable information to our customers. Thank you!

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