Make clear who is representing consumers' interest in oBike case

The incident involving the reported $6.3 million worth of deposits entrusted to oBike puts the spotlight on who should represent the consumers' interest in this incident (oBike owes users $6.3m in deposits; July 3).

The Consumers Association of Singapore's (Case's) condemnation of oBike's business ethics lacks teeth and no other regulatory action seems to be pursued.

This is a worrying situation, especially if consumers lose $50 every time a mobile application stops working, given the number of mobile applications available.

In some jurisdictions, consumers may get legal representation. In such countries, the system of class-action suits motivates and enables some law firms to represent the man on the street.

In Singapore, we do not have this system. Therefore, it is worrying if the authorities do not step in as there is no one at oBike's negotiating table to represent the consumers.

Perhaps Case can first issue guidelines to the existing bike-sharing applications to prevent history from repeating itself.

Firms should be required to highlight to consumers that such deposits are unsecured and may not be returned in the event of insolvency.

It is worrying if the authorities do not step in as there is no one at oBike's negotiating table to represent the consumers. Perhaps Case can first issue guidelines to the existing bike-sharing applications to prevent history from repeating itself.

Existing customers should also be reminded to remove their deposits if they are uncomfortable with this possibility.

Also, there should be clarification on whether the authorities are involved in the oBike case and, if so, more information on the authorities that are directly involved should be made available.

With about 100,000 affected consumers, I certainly hope that this will be classified as a serious public issue.

Terence Teoh

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 10, 2018, with the headline 'Make clear who is representing consumers' interest in oBike case'. Print Edition | Subscribe