MARYLAND

Charter Bus-R-Us accused of leaving area track team

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A Gaithersburg track team came to 7 On Your Side for help after a charter bus company they hired failed to pick them.

The Firebirds Club track team says they hired "Charter Bus-R-Us" to take them to a track meet at Duke University, but they were left standing in a school parking lot.

While the group of kids, ages 6 to 18, should be thinking about the hurdles on the track, the situation has them more concerned about financial ones.

"For someone to basically rob you of $6 to $8,000, it's hard to fathom," Firebirds Treasurer Stephen Leacock said.

Charter Bus-R-Us, which is run by Bana Hadi of Arlington, was hired to take the Firebirds to two track meets for $9,000.

The first trip went fine, but when it was time to drive 90 athletes, parents and coaches to North Carolina earlier this month, the bus was a no-show.

The club paid another $8,400 at the last minute to hire different buses to make the meet.

The Firebirds aren't the only ones who've had problems with the bus company.

In January, college students in Fort Myers, Florida say they paid Charter Bus-R-Us $18,000 to take them to D.C. for the "Right to Life" march. Their check was cashed, but again the bus didn't show up.

Student Jennifer Davidson said, "I was completely shocked. I couldn't believe someone would take advantage of us and take our money like that."

Charter Bus-R-Us has an "F" from the Better Business Bureau, as well as  complaints filed with the Maryland and Virginia Attorney General.

"They have vanished," Leacock said.

They haven't vanished, but they aren't easy to find.

ABC7 went to multiple addresses associated with the charter bus company, only to find locked doors and empty offices.

Eventually, the owner, Bana Hadi, was located.

While she would not agree to an on-camera interview, she said the issues with the track team was a miscommunication about the pickup time. She said she mailed a refund to the club on Saturday after being contacted by 7 On Your Side.

The Firebirds haven't received the $8,400 check yet.

Meanwhile, Hadi blames a rogue employee for stealing from her business and a series of financial woes for the issues in January. She claims she's paying the Florida students back a month at a time.

ABC7 will keep you updated on whether the Firebirds receive their refund.

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