Dubai: A missing passport, a cancelled holiday and money down the drain — a Pakistani family in Dubai is crying foul over a ‘lapse' by a diplomatic mission that has set them back by thousands of dirhams.
It all began on August 10 when businessman Mohammad Aijaz Ahmad approached VFS Global, outsourcing partner of the German Consulate in Dubai, to apply for a Schengen visa for himself, his wife, two daughters and son for a European holiday.
It was a long-planned vacation beginning August 28 when they would be celebrating Eid with relatives in London, followed by trips to Germany, France and Switzerland. The family had got the UK visa and made their travel bookings well in advance to avail the best fares.
Holiday gone for a toss
But the dream holiday never took place.
"When I went to collect our passports on August 22 I was told my son Mohammad Usman's passport could not be traced. I made four trips between the German Consulate and VFS Global but neither could find the document," said Ahmad.
By now, the family's efforts to postpone their travel plans had gone in vain as the bookings had been made under a promotional package. A refund was ruled out.
Ahmad claimed that on August 28, the consulate gave him a letter confirming the loss of his son's passport. "The passport with the visa cannot be traced at the Consulate General or VFS Global Office to date. The Consulate General appreciates any support for Mr Ahmad to receive a new passport as soon as possible," a copy of the letter said.
A response from the consulate was not immediately available.
"The consulate told me that once my son's fresh passport arrived, they would issue his Schengen visa free of charge. But that was of little consolation as we had incurred a loss of around Dh50,000," claimed Ahmad. "The consulate has to pay the damages. They ruined our holiday," he said.
New passport too late
He said his son was issued a new passport under the ‘urgent' category on September 20, by which time the 30-day validity of the Schengen visas of the other family members was nearing its end.
"We were told we would have to apply for fresh visas again. When I protested, they agreed to issue the new visas free of charge. But we had already incurred such a huge expense — for the air tickets, hotel bookings, the first round of British and Schengen visas and my son's fresh passport," said Ahmad. "What about this loss?"
He claimed that the Vice-Consul had asked him to write a letter on the issue of damages which he had submitted. "But I have no answers yet."