oBike says it's working to refund deposits, collect bikes

oBike is working to resolve various concerns raised by users and assured that the refund process will be announced soon.
oBike is working to resolve various concerns raised by users and assured that the refund process will be announced soon. PHOTO: ST FILE

Beleaguered firm says refund process will be announced

Bike-sharing firm oBike, which shut down operations abruptly last week, is working closely with relevant parties on a solution to refund the deposits of its users.

The beleaguered Chinese-founded company, in a statement yesterday afternoon, apologised for the inconvenience caused to affected parties, and said it is working to resolve the various concerns raised over the past week.

It assured users that the entire refund process will be announced once details are finalised.

The firm's sudden closure had left many disgruntled customers clamouring for a refund of their deposits of up to $49 that they had to make to use its bikes. The Consumers Association of Singapore said last Friday it had received 884 complaints from consumers asking for oBike to return their deposits.

Last Monday, the bike operator unexpectedly announced that it was shutting down its operations in Singapore.

oBike, which has been given till Wednesday by the authorities to clear its fleet of at least 14,000 bicycles, is working with the Land Transport Authority (LTA) to collect all remaining idle oBikes still strewn across the island.

"We will have further discussions with LTA if we are unable to collect the bicycles in the given timeframe," it added.

Uncollected bikes will be impounded, LTA said last week, and oBike or its liquidator will then have to pay the relevant towing and storage fees to redeem them.

 
 
 

Yesterday, oBike also said it is working closely with the Personal Data Protection Commission over its next course of action. It noted that user data will not be sold or used for any purpose other than for the oBike service.

Its surprise departure comes three weeks after another operator, GBikes, said it would stop its Singapore services from this Saturday.

When announcing its closure, oBike said it foresaw difficulties in meeting LTA's new licensing requirements for the bike-sharing sector.

The licensing regime, announced in March, set such standards as capping the number of bicycles offered by each firm and ensuring their users do not park the bicycles indiscriminately.

The company, which began operations in Singapore in January last year, said it is "fully committed to solve these issues to ensure proper closure for our stakeholders in Singapore".

It added: "We would like to apologise once again for the inconvenience caused to all parties."

Affected users who spoke with The Straits Times are relieved that the bike-sharing firm is taking steps to address the issue of refunding deposits.

But many are unsure how long the operator is going to take before they can get their refund.

"The details on the refund process are still unclear. Hopefully, we won't have to wait too long," said undergraduate Jerome Tan, who is hoping to get his $19 deposit back.

"It is not a big sum of money, but I think they should not have stayed silent on this issue. It felt like we've been taken for a ride."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 02, 2018, with the headline 'oBike says it's working to refund deposits, collect bikes'. Print Edition | Subscribe