‘Customers are entitled to full refunds’ if Umrah trips cancelled

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Customers ‘should be provided with a full refund of the payments that they have made for their package contracts’ says a leading Hajj organisation.

But this could depend on ‘the cancellation policy as per their travel contract’.

Saudi Arabia imposed a temporary ban on locals and residents from performing the minor pilgrimage (Umrah) over fears of the coronavirus. This decision came days after the Kingdom banned all foreigners from the holy cities of Makkah and Medina.

Umrah can be performed at any time during the year.

The Saudi Arabinan Ministry of Hajj also approved the electronic mechanism to retrieve Umrah visa and services fees via Umrah agents in the pilgrim’s host country.

The Council of British Hajjis (CBHUK) had urged all passengers to contact their airlines for all options, rebooking and cancellations requests.

A spokesperson told us, “Our understanding is that this situation is as a consequence of 'unexpected and extraordinary circumstances, and that therefore under Regulation 12(7) of the PTR pilgrims whose packages are due to commence whilst the Saudi government travel restriction is in effect, should be allowed to terminate their contract with the package organisers without penalty, and that they should be provided with a full refund of the payments that they have made to date for their package contracts, although they are not entitled to additional compensation'.

They pointed concerned customers to a link to the complete regulation here.

And said, “Organisers may wish to offer alternative packages to pilgrims, if that is feasible, but the pilgrims are not under any obligation to accept the alternatives in place of cancellation and refunds as referred to above, and should a pilgrim accept an alternative that is of a lower quality or cost than the original package they are entitled to an appropriate partial refund.”

The CBHUK added, “If a customer chooses to cancel, then this will be down to the cancellation policy as per their travel contract.

“All Packages (Flight + Car/hotel) must be sold by an ATOL holder and the customer issued with an ATOL certificate, failure to do so is breaking the law, as is selling a package without an ATOL.

“The Saudi Ministry of Hajj & Umrah has announced full refunds for those on Umrah visa (which means hotels+tarnsport+visa) to the Umrah agents, therefore, the agents will get a full refund which they should be refunding the customer.

The CBHUK have posted advice for customers here.

Arif Hajj and Umrah Travels who are one of the largest pilgrimage travel providers in the region posted a notice (March 5) stating they would return all monies to customers who had booked the umrah to take place in April. They would be refunded in 14 days.

Preston based Al-Noor Travel, who trade as 1st Choice Travels said, “The Saudi government have taken a precautionary step of suspending all Umrah visa applications until further notice.

“This is a precautionary measure to try and ensure the coronavirus does not enter the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the sanctity of the two Harams.

“We hope you will understand that this decision is not in our control.

“Once the Saudi Government decide to uplift this suspension then we will of course notify as soon as that happens.

“For refund we cannot comment anything at the moment as we are still working on it as soon as we’ve made our decision we will inform all our customers.”

A spokesperson for Blackburn based Al Haramain Hajj & Umrah Tours said customers should expect their money back, “Our understanding is anybody who has booked with a licenced Hajj tour operator are entitled to their money back.”

Al-Haramain said they had not been affected by the corona crisis as they sold tailormade packages and had not booked any further umrah trips since February.


Source: https://www.asianimage.co.uk/news/18290228.customers-entitled-full-refunds-umrah-trips-cancelled/