Panache International Forced To Refund Failed Dubai Trip

Farzana Mayet of Panache International | Image Source: Facebook https://web.facebook.com/pg/wowaward/

NEWS: Farzana Mayet of Panache International has been forced to refund traveller, Zahida Kara Sulaiman after the Dubai event of ‘Women of Wonder Awards’ failed to materialize. Sulaiman resorted to seeking assistance from the Consumer Goods and Services Ombudsman and the media in order to recoup a payment of R102 000 from Mayet’s company. The Dubai event, a venture of Farzana Mayet, was scheduled to be held between March 21 and 28 however this did not happen due to the lockdown.

According to the consumer watchdog, Georgina Crouth on IOL, consumer Zahida Kara Sulaiman had been contacted by Farzana Mayet, who encouraged her to bring her children along to the event. It is understood that Sulaiman made a payment of R102 000 on January 27 to Mayet by March 6, travel vouchers were issued. With the impact of the lockdown, by March 11, Sulaiman opted to pull out of attending the Dubai event asking for a refund. Mayet and the contracted travel agency, Enchanted Travel, then proposed a postponement, which would have incurred further costs, but the Sulaimans were unavailable for the new dates. Unable to claim from travel insurance, Sulaiman asked for a full refund. No can do, she was told: Emirates was only issuing vouchers (the airline has subsequently revised its policy) and the hotels were refusing to refund customers.

“She (Mayet) refused to send me a receipt, although I requested this several times. I don’t have any agreement with her agency, but I am required to pay charges and commissions after the funds were deposited into Mayet’s account.”

Zahira Kader Sulaiman, IOL

Previously Mayet had run into a similar issue with a Bollywood concert after the no show of Indian singer Salman Ali in South Africa. You can read that story here

Did the hotels receive payment for Sulaiman’s booking?

A bit of sleuthing revealed the Dubai hotels had only received inquiries – nothing was paid to any of the three hotels where the tour group was due to stay. Atlantis, The Palm and Swiss Hotel confirmed this to Independent Media. No invoice was issued for the R102 000 paid to Panache, nor was there any service agreement between Sulaiman and the organiser.

“I received the invitation and made payment, but no terms and conditions were signed or agreed at the time of payment,” Sulaiman says.

“She (Mayet) refused to send me a receipt, although I requested this several times. I don’t have any agreement with her agency, but I am required to pay charges and commissions after the funds were deposited into Mayet’s account.”

Mayet, though, insists her awards were never cancelled, merely postponed. She says she and her travel agent had tried their best to assist Sulaiman.

“I would like to place on record that this was a non-refundable trip as communicated to Mrs Sulaiman on mail (but we also mentioned that we will go above and beyond the call of duty to assist her best we can to get whatever refunds we can),” Mayet says. “I have a service provider that does the booking and had issued Mrs Sulaiman the confirmation of the hotel bookings. So I don’t understand your falsified allegation that no booking was done.”

She said Sulaiman had cancelled “way before” any travel ban was imposed but “my character does not allow me to be unjust and the person that I am, I went over and above the call of duty as I strongly advocate women empowerment (sic) to ensure that Mrs Sulaiman gets back whatever refunds came through”.

She said she had instructed the agent to proceed with the refunds of the airline tickets and claimed she had received payment for the hotels in April. Responding to a query from the Consumer Goods and Services Ombudsman (CGSO), she said as soon as she received the funds for the flight tickets in her account, she would pay the hotel and airline ticket money to Sulaiman. Mayet said she had tried to reach out to Sulaiman but the latter had blocked her, opened a case with the police and defamed her on social media – a claim which is vehemently denied. Mayet denied refusing to refund Sulaiman, saying she was awaiting the refund from Emirates before paying her for the trip.

On Friday, Mayet provided a payment confirmation for R80 316, an underpayment of more than R20 000, as well as PDFs of the visas that had apparently been issued for the family. She did not respond to a further query about the short payment, nor proof of payment for the visas, by deadline.

To continue reading this story click here

* Georgina Crouth is a consumer watchdog with serious bite. Write to her at consumer@inl.co.za, tweet her @georginacrouth and follow her on Facebook.

Originally published here: IOL

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