Goodmayes businessman sets up Hajj travel ‘governing body’ to ensure customer satisfaction
PUBLISHED: 07:00 04 May 2016
A businessman has launched an insurance company and “governing body” specialising in protecting religious pilgrims taking part in Hajj and Umrah.
Management consultant Haroon Hussain, 37, of Aberdour Road, Goodmayes, set up the UK and Europe Hajj Corporation (UKEHC) after reading about people being ripped off by bogus travel agents.
He said many pilgrims find it hard to get travel insurance for the trips, which last year saw at least 2,411 people killed in a crush in Saudi Arabia.
He said: “Normal insurance doesn’t cover a religious pilgrimage – a chance of an accident happening is increased and is a typical problem encountered.”
Haroon set up UKEHC, based in Chadwell Heath Industrial Park, to become a “governing body” of the trade, only using Atol-protected agents.
“People encounter bogus agents who take their money and disappear, or agents who promise five star packages or pay for direct flights and find stopovers,” he said.
“Some agents say Qurdani [the sacrificing of livestock in remembrance of the Prophet Abraham] is included and it’s not.”
Agents must meet high standards and provide evidence of their Atol certification to register with UKEHC.
This means pilgrims can purchase packages from regulated agents in confidence, with free insurance of up to £7,500 included.
He said: “We are working in partnership with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and Atol.
“Some agents do not even provide customers with a receipt. Some people think that’s OK but it is utterly wrong.”
The company will also act as a mediator to resolve conflicts between agent and customer.
“If people feel they have been hard done by, or had a bad deal, they can complain to us,” he said.
“We can impose a fine of £50 and if three warnings are made their licence can be removed.
“If the licence is removed they cannot issue a visa [to travel to Mecca], and if a visa cannot be issued they cannot trade.”
UKEHC launched on Monday with a party at the Grand Palace Banqueting Suite, Wood Green.
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