10 Facts About the #ReturnMyDeposit Issue That Apparently Started Long Ago

Image: cckbest / Shutterstock.com

Lest you’ve been living under a cave, you would have heard of oBike’s departure from the local bike-sharing scene.

The move, which nobody (if anyone says otherwise they either work at oBike or suffer from Pinnochio’s syndrome) saw coming, materialised in part because of a new legislation, that requires bike operators to sign for a new license to operate in “public places”.

Apart from feeling the financial strain, oBike has also stated that the new license’s motive contravenes their mission statement, and as such has chosen to let it go.

But while they’ve been pretty vocal in letting it go, the other party, the users in question, have also been pretty vocal about it.

And in case you’re wondering… yeah, it’s about their deposits.

1. Refunds

Despite being cast in a glaring spotlight only recently when oBike announced its closure, the bike operator’s refund issues can actually be traced back all the way to January 2018, where users found it hard to process their refunds.

And things didn’t exactly improve, seeing how…

2. The refund button has been taken off their app

It’s true. oBike has released an update that removes the refund button altogether.

Image: AsiaOne

Which begets the question: how on earth do you get your refund back then.

Some tried using an earlier version of the app, which still contained the aforementioned refund function.

Image: AsiaOne

But as this user so kindly pointed out.

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Image: AsiaOne

So yeah.

3. Conversion

Not to mention; oBike has apparently been up to some sneaky business, having converted some users’ deposits to become payment for a subscription programme they did not sign up for.

Image: Reddit

Incidentally, oBike’s Facebook cover page is that of the Super VIP programme.

Image: oBike Facebook Page

4. Vacant office

PLUS, it seems that the bike operator’s local headquarters has been cleaned out pretty bare.

Image: Shin Min Daily News

So how exactly do you get your deposit back, considering the notion that any attempts to contact the firm via phone and email have also fallen flat?

5. Petition

When all else fails, petition. No seriously petition. So even if you don’t actually get anything out of it, you will at least have something to do in the first place. And it feels like you’re part of the gang. Which is cool. – Leticia

Indeed, following their unsuccessful attempts to reclaim their deposits, a petition has been chartered up against oBike. Thus far, a whopping 2,730 have pledged their allegiance against the bike-operator, leaving just 2,270 more before… something else happens.

Image: AsiaOne

“Many customers who submitted the refund request in Jan 2018 have yet to receive their refund in May 2018,” said Harwinder Singh, the dude who started the campaign.

“I’m starting this petition to gain support on this issue from all the affected customers with a hope to bring the issue into the mainstream and get the attention of Singapore authorities. The authorities should act to force the company into compliance or cease their operations.”

And as such, it did work, seeing how the entire incident drew the attention of…

6. The Land Transport Authority

Responding to Singh’s petition, the LTA advised users to turn to the Consumer Association of Singapore (CASE).

Later on, in response to media queries, the LTA reiterated its answer to the petition by urging upset users to take matters up to CASE. The regulation will in the meantime step in to engage oBike on its exit plans, “including the removal of shared bicycles from public places.”

However, this might not work, seeing how CASE is essentially a…

7. NGO

Sadly it doesn’t mean No Goal, although I do have a feeling that the Germans would appreciate that. Rather, I’m referring to a non-government organisation, that, in hindsight, possesses zero legislative powers.

As such, the best CASE can do is to mediate the problem between the bike operator and its users, but even then, users are concerned about the ‘no guarantee’ notion.

For the record, CASE received 232 complaints against oBike, from 5:00 p.m. on Monday (25 June) to 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday (26 June). To put things into perspective, the organisation received 27 complaints since the start of the year.

8. Australia

If you’re a sadist, take pride, because Singapore’s not the only country crying over oBike.

Two weeks ago, oBike announced that it will be ceasing operations in Melbourne, and on 12 June, removed all its bikes from the city (following the possibility of a fine from the mayor for littering).

And similar to our local counterparts, the Australians are finding it hard to reclaim their deposits (S$69.50), no thanks to secret conversions, missing refund buttons and ‘Bermuda-triangled’ refund applications.

“I came to Australia last July and was happy to learn that they (oBike) were here, but shortly I realised how wrong their entire system is,” one o Bike user said.

“Pricing, app design, customer service, back-end IT support, promotions. Everything they did signalled to the market that they were in deep sh*t. Now they have problems refunding our money.”

“I wouldn’t call it a scam. I just think they have a completely wrong business model.”

We feel you, our kangaroo-loving brothas.

However, it has to be taken note that oBike’s still up and running in Sydney, with a special arrangement laid out for dockless bike share operators.

9. Also…

Our neighbours Malaysia seem to have been pulled in the mud as well, with oBike also flying aeroplane on them.

And after facing the same shit Sinkies and Aussies have so unfairly dealt with, our neighbours are, suffice it to say, not taking it very well.

Image: Mothership

Welcome to the family. Our dearest wishes that you will all get back your RM49 deposits.

10. Refund of deposits, yay or nay?

With oBike possessing a current estimate of $22.7 million in liabilities, it seems futile that users will ever get their refunds back.

But if there’s any consolation, here’s what oBike’s co-founder Edward Chen reportedly had to say about it.

“There’s an existing plan for the whole process.”

Well, considering the fiasco thus far… yeah sure we totally believe you. #gotcha

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