Agent leaves S’pore group stranded in Port Dickson
Organiser had to pay for 142 people's lodging in Port Dickson from own pocket
They were excited about their three-day two-night trip to Port Dickson, Malaysia, where they would stay in villas at a hotel, with their own dip pool.
The group of 142 people would also enjoy a fancy dinner and watch their favourite local singers, Roslan Shah and Elfee Ismail, perform at the hotel's ballroom.
Unfortunately, their holiday was ruined last Friday afternoon.
Despite having paid for their rooms, they found out that no lodging had been booked when they reached the Lexis Hibiscus hotel.
Part-time make-up artist and trip organiser Sharifah Alkaff, 45, said the Singaporeans, who included the visually impaired, people in wheelchairs and young families, had paid between $200 and $350 each for accommodation, transport and entertainment.
She realised something was fishy after the group, which filled four tour buses, set off.
She asked the tour agent for the dinner menu but was told they would find out when they reached the hotel.
Suspicious, Madam Sharifah called the hotel and realised no such booking had been made.
She said: "The agent eventually owned up and begged me not to post anything about it online."
The New Paper tried to contact the agent on Sunday night but her two mobile phone numbers were no longer in use.
Checks with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority did not show any records of the company.
The agent's then-husband had recommended her services to Madam Sharifah in September.
MADE POLICE REPORT
She said she had paid the agent $4,500 for 50 rooms and has made a police report over the matter.
Yesterday, the agent was taken to hospital in an ambulance after several people she allegedly cheated confronted her.
Madam Sharifah had to scramble to pay RM28,000 (S$9,300) for a night's stay in 40 rooms.
The hotel allowed her to make a partial payment of RM14,000 after taking down her details.
Miss Farah Nor Diana, front office manager of Lexis Hibiscus Port Dickson, said: "We couldn't find any booking (under the agent's name). Fortunately, we were not running on full capacity that day.
"We wanted to help because the group had travelled all the way from Singapore."
They had arrived at the hotel at 3pm and many of them got their rooms only at 8pm.
Madam Jamila Abu Bakar, 64, who was with 16 members of her extended family, said: "We were just relaxing at the hotel's lounge and didn't know what was going on at first.
"It's frustrating our trip got cut short. We just wanted to come here to relax but this happened."
That was not the end of their woes.
On the way home, when the buses reached a rest stop at Ayer Keroh, Malacca, the bus company refused to continue the journey because Madam Sharifah had not paid the fare in full.
All her money had been spent on hotel lodging the day before.
Mr Elfee eventually borrowed money from his uncle and they collected $50 from each family to pay the bus fare.
Madam Sharifah said: "I'm very thankful my friends and family didn't blame me because they knew I had been conned...
"She could have just cheated me, but (this affected) so many innocent people, including the disabled and poor."
She could have just cheated me, but (this affected) so many innocent people, including the disabled and poor.
- Make-up artist and trip organiser Sharifah Alkaff
CONCERNED: Singer Roslan Shah taking care of a fan who felt unwell at the hotel.
AGENT DIDN'T PAY FOR BALI VILLA
Several people have claimed they were also cheated by the tour agent after a video about her was posted on Facebook last week.
The clip has gone viral with more than 220,000 views so far.
A Facebook user also posted a picture of a police report, claiming she had transferred $429 to the agent to book a villa in Bali.
But when they arrived in Bali on Nov 30, they realised their accommodation had not been paid for.
The agent also allegedly duped other customers who had booked accommodation in Batam.
Her ex-husband, who used to be her business partner, claimed he did not know about the incidents until recently.
He said: "One of the entertainers on the trip, Roslan Shah, is an old friend of mine and I recommended my ex-wife because I knew she could get cheaper hotel rates."
The ex-husband, whose divorce was finalised last month, has also made a police report against her.
AGENT TAKEN TO HOSPITAL
The tour agent was taken to hospital yesterday after several people she allegedly cheated confronted her outside the Family Justice Courts.
The group had waited for her after finding out she had a matter in court, said Ms Amy Tashiana, who was part of the Port Dickson tour group.
They included Madam Sharifah Alkaff, who organised the Port Dickson tour, her sister and those who had booked an earlier tour to Bali.
There was a small scuffle before the agent went into the court, Ms Tashiana added.
Madam Sharifah and her sister followed the agent inside.
It was unclear what happened but an ambulance later took the agent to hospital at about 11.30am.
She claimed she had been hit.
A police spokesman said a 36-year-old woman was taken to the Singapore General Hospital after an incident of voluntarily causing hurt.
Investigations are ongoing.
- Elizabeth Law