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Coronavirus: Ontario travel agency closed, customers still owed thousands



An Ontario travel agency has been shut down by regulators following complaints that the business did not provide refunds for airline tickets that were canceled amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“Agencies need to keep that money in good faith,” said Richard Smart, president and CEO of the Ontario Travel Industry Council (TICO), which licenses travel agencies in the province.

TICO suspended the registration of Al-Barkah Travel and Tours Inc.s on 14 September.

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Global News received several complaints from consumers regarding Al-Barkah Travel and Tours, claiming that its owner had failed to repay money for trips that could not go ahead as a result of COVID-19.

“He said four to six weeks to get a refund; I never got anything, ”said Nadia Aamir of Brampton, adding that she paid more than $ 1,500 for a return ticket from Toronto to Lahore, Pakistan.

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“I tried to call him, leaving messages, he did not answer anything,” Aamir told Global News in an interview.

Several international flights landing at Pearson Airport report cases of COVID-19

Several international flights landing at Pearson Airport report cases of COVID-19

Al-Barkah, located in Milton, is run by Mahmood Bashir, who could not be reached by phone because the agencys telephone line was disconnected.

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Global News visited his home for comment and spoke to a man who said he was his brother.

“I do not know where you can trace him,” the man told a reporter before admitting that Bashiri lives in the new house with two late-model German luxury vehicles parked on the street.

Some clients told Global News that they went to the police to complain, but no charges were dropped.

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Thirunalrayan Vijayan bought three tickets from Toronto to India from Bashir’s company on the recommendation of a friend. He expected to receive a promised refund of $ 4,765 but did not receive it.

Eventually, Vijayan was sent a letter of credit from the travel agency, valid for two years. The loan promise is written under the company letter.

But with the agency banned from providing travel services, the loan is void.

“It simply came to my notice then. “It’s a lot of money,” said Vijayan.

The travel regulator said consumers have been calling with complaints about Al-Barkah for months.

READ MORE:Air Canada promotes leisure travel to US despite advisers warning against non-essential travel

“We have received numerous complaints, the nature of which you have described, in accordance with what you are hearing,” said Smart, who said the company is the subject of an ongoing investigation.

In the meantime, customers who believe they owe money from the travel agency can contact TICO to file a complaint and try to get a refund from the industry compensation fund.

An application form can be requested by email at [email protected] or by phone at 1-888-451-8426.

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© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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