Travel agent warning for Muslim residents booking Hajj pilgramages

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West Yorkshire Trading Standards Service are urging Muslim residents to book their Hajj pilgramages with a reliable travel agent.

The standards service inspected a number of businesses selling Hajj packages in Bradford and Huddersfield, alongside an officer from Birmingham Trading Standards, to establish the whether the customers’ were getting value for their money.

In the inspection, only half of the premises were found to be reputable with Package Tour Regulations.

Problems including supplying the packages without an ATOL licence, offering other trader’s ATOL bonded Hajj packages without a suitable agency agreement, supplying insufficient details of the trips and failure to notify customers about travel insurance.

Councillor Jayne Booth, of the West Yorkshire Trading Standards Committee said: “Hajj is an incredibly important occasion for all Muslims, but sadly there are some unscrupulous businesses out there that are willing to exploit members of the community.

“We are advising anyone making the pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia this year to make sure they are protected by booking their travel through a legitimate operator. We will also be visiting mosques with a specialist officer, so anyone who has been reluctant to come forward and complain about previous incidents can talk to us discreetly and in confidence.”

West Yorkshire Trading Standards Service is advising people booking the packages to make sure the operator is ATOL protected - which means their money is guaranteed if the business ceases to trade.

They should also make sure the travel operators confirms the details in person, including details of the company representatives at the destination before the depature date.

David Lodge, Head of West Yorkshire Trading Standards added: “Rogue travel operators who deliberately flout consumer protection legislation can expect to be prosecuted.”

Any West Yorkshire residents with concerns should contact Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline 0345 04 05 06.