SINGAPORE: There has been a sharp increase in the number of complaints against bike-sharing operator oBike, following its announcement that it has ceased operations in Singapore, the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE) confirmed on Tuesday (Jun 26).
From 5pm on Monday to 4pm on Tuesday, CASE received 232 complaints against oBike. Prior to that, the association had received just 27 since the start of the year, it said in response to queries from Channel NewsAsia.
According to the watchdog, consumers mostly complained that they "did not receive a refund for their deposits" from oBike despite requests.
Channel NewsAsia reported on Monday that oBike users seeking refunds of their mandatory deposits – S$19 and S$49 for students and other users respectively – were left in the lurch following the company's announcement.
Some said the “refund deposit” option on the oBike app was removed, and had trouble with internet connection when they tried to access the app.
CASE told Channel NewsAsia it will “follow up with oBike” on the deposit refunds and urged consumers with unresolved disputes to contact the consumer watchdog for further assistance.
It added that consumers who made payment via credit card to oBike within the last 120 days "can consider lodging a chargeback claim with their card issuer as soon as possible".
In its statement to Channel NewsAsia on Monday, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) said affected consumers should make a request for the refund of their deposits or subscription fees with oBike if they have not already done so.
oBike has not responded to queries from Channel NewsAsia.
oBIKE OFFICE EMPTY, SIGN TAKEN DOWN
When Channel NewsAsia visited the oBike Asia headquarters at Commonwealth Lane on Tuesday afternoon (Jun 26), the office was locked and looked vacant.
The only indication that the office was previously occupied by oBike was the company's cardboard poster that was placed against one of the windows.
Two people who worked at offices adjacent and opposite oBike's unit told Channel NewsAsia that the oBike sign outside the door was removed about a month ago.
One of them added that the oBike office was previously occupied by 10-12 people, who were mostly interns.
"I was friendly with one of the women working there and she told me that only two employees were working full-time. The rest were all student interns," said an offshore ship broker who declined to be named.
In a report released on Tuesday afternoon, Mediacorp's TODAY quoted oBike's co-founder Edward Chen as saying that "he has left matters to the local team and also the legal team and (liquidator)".
On whether oBike would offer refunds on the users' deposits, the report quoted Mr Chen, who is based in Shanghai, as saying that there was an "existing plan for the whole process".
TODAY added that Mr Chen declined to elaborate, and referred the news outlet to oBike's Singapore-based team and lawyers.
LTA said on Monday it “will be engaging oBike" on its "exit plans", including the removal of shared bicycles from public places.