The Prophet peace be upon him said: "The Almighty has mercy upon he who is considerate of the buyer when selling and considerate of the seller when buying."I love writing reviews for Muslim businesses online because I like telling my readers about new companies that can cater to their needs Islamically as well as help those businesses out by giving them a platform to tell people about their company. Unfortunately today I'm writing a not so good post about a company that has recently cheated customers out of hundreds of pounds. I've tried to keep the review as balanced as possible and have even left links at the end with both good reviews from bloggers as well as negative reviews from customers.
I found Boutique Al-Khaleejia on facebook a couple of years back and was really impressed by their beautiful khaleeji style abaya's as well as very unique designs. I was later contacted by them in May 2012 asking me if I would write a review on some of their shayla's, I messaged the sister back and forth and she seemed like a really lovely down to earth sister, we talked about our personal lives and all the reviews on her facebook page and by other bloggers were glowing. However, I never did receive the items for review because the owner was moving houses and was really busy among other things. After doing a bit of research online recently and reading many reviews from early customers as well as later ones I was shocked at what happened to this online company.
One of the first things I read about them in a negative review is that they replicated other designers work, thus ripping off actual designers. Back tracking on those e-mails I sent to the sister she did mention that she doesn't design any of the abaya's herself but that some of their designs are inspired by other world famous designers such as DAS, she mentioned that she works with a team of designers in the middle east that make the abaya's & jalabiyyah's and can also custom make abaya's for sisters as well. However what many of the original designers were not happy about was the company using their pictures without permission.
From what I have gathered I can tell that the sister I was speaking to was the first owner of the company (Dania), she has since sold the business and cut off all ties with the tailors she was working with as well as the model she uses in her business pictures (Christine Sisk) . The new owner of this company has taken money off customers for the abaya's and has not paid the tailors or got back to her customers, some customers have received their abaya months after it was due and even then in very poor quality, nothing like what is described, others have not receieved their orders at all or been refunded. The new owner blames the old owner and the very few responses people have received from the old owner say that she no longer has anything to do with it and it is the new owners problem.
The reason I write this post is not to expose someone of their sins or whatever but because I am obliged to keep you guys updated with what's going on in the online world of 'Islamic' modest clothing business. I don't know what happened to sister Dania and don't know who is actually to blame in this situation but I am shocked that the company is still up and running after so many people have complained.
The abaya I was looking to buy was around £130, at the time I was still a student and didn't have the money to spend so I left it but I can only imagine the anguish of sisters who have been cheated out of such an extortionate amount of money with no explanation.
Many people have tried to speak to the old owner and the new one directly to no avail, it seems to me like earlier customers were very satisfied with their products and Dania was doing a great job but in the last 6 months something has happened that resulted in a lot of un happy customers. The tailors as well as the model for the company have also both come out and told customers that they've lost all contact with the owners and it's true that everyone involved with the company in the last 6 months have lost a lot of money.
If I came across this company and had only read the reviews written in early 2012 by bloggers such as misshijabi, hijabrevival and muslimah reverie I would have spent money on one of their abaya's and been in the same boat as many sisters who have been trying to get in contact with Dania and the new owner since November/December 2012.
Many customers have also complained that the owner has been very defensive and rude when it came to criticism whether it's from bloggers or customers themselves. I have found out that any negative comments on the facebook page from customers were deleted and people who wrote negative reviews on their blog were threatened with being sued for writing negatively about them and for using their pictures in the review (even though they themselves used pictures from designers that they were replicating)
What you can do...
The only thing I can recommend to sisters who were thinking about buying from this company is don't, wait until all the current problems with customers and paying the tailors has been sorted before you part with your money because at the moment nobody knows where the money's going or whether they'll ever get their orders.
For sisters who have paid and not received anything, you should contact the company that you paid through, Paypal has strict rules for buyers and sellers and if you don't receive your item online you can take it up with paypal who will try to sort it out for you. I would also recommend you speaking to your credit/debit card company and see if they can help you in any way.
When online shopping was new, people were really wary with using their card online and were afraid of being scammed by fraudsters or those who could not deliver on their promises, but lately everyone has become more relaxed with online shopping thus not checking out customer reviews or checking if the company is reliable before parting with their money. I would urge all sisters to be careful when shopping online because it is an easy way for people to rip you off, make sure you are convinced the company is well established and trustworthy before spending.
Since uploading the status on facebook about this expose I have received messages from other sisters telling me they have experienced the same thing with other companies.
One sister writes: "I read your last post on being ripped off by an abaya co run by a muslim sister.... I am wondering if it is the same I dealt with.... she did not reply to a custom made abaya I ordered for 200+ dollars that did not fit me even after she took my measurements and I lost 10 lbs, expecting it to be big on me.... it still fit too small... I tried to be as reasonable as possible, even paying for the shipping costs, so she could add material...but she did not even reply.... I contacted the credit card co and disputed the charge bc of this problem..."This is the reason you need to be really careful, especially with custom made orders because I have experienced similar things with another company but have alhamdulillah got my money back for that. Sometimes you wont be so lucky, the company owners wont have a conscience and you wont get your money back.
I hope and pray everyone who feels like they have been cheated in this situation and similar situations get their money back and companies catering to Muslims implement Islamic rules in business, because ultimately you can hide from your customers but you wont be able to hide from Allah.
This post was not to demonise anyone, to scare you or to make you never spend money online, but to inform you of the dangers of not doing your research, so you are aware of potential scams even by 'Muslim' business owners. I have tried to be as balanced as I can after reading everything everyone has said about the company and have also tried to give the company benefit of doubt and all I ask is for them to come out and explain themselves to their customers in order to gain their trust back. All it takes is a bit of communication.
Below are links to reviews from the early customers as well as more recent unhappy customers
https://www.facebook.com/boutiquealkhaleejia - if you click on this link and then click on recommendations you will see all the reviews from very unsatisfied customers
I'd like to stress that this is not very common and most businesses run by Muslims or geared toward Muslims are not that bad and most people do have good Islamic business ethics.
Peace, Love, Salaams & Du'as
Have you had any good or bad experiences with this company? If so leave a comment below. All rude comments esp using fowl language & spam will be deleted.