Source: oBike/Facebook

Fines imposed by LTA might affect funds available to return customers’ deposits, said oBike chairman

Any fines imposed by Singapore's Land Transport Authority (LTA) on oBike should the latter still fail to remove its bicycles from the streets by the stipulated Jul 4 deadline might affect the funds available to oBike for the purpose of returning customers’ deposits, said oBikes's founding investor and chairman, Shi Yi.

The 29-year-old told Channel NewsAsia via an email correspondence that the company is hoping that LTA will not levy towage and storage fees in the event that oBike fails to clear the bicycles before the deadline tomorrow, as its primary "focus right now is to refund the deposit to users". 

He added that oBike has already started working closely with LTA to remove the bicycles from the streets. 

"We will do what we can to meet the requirements (LTA has set)," he added. 

Since oBike’s announcement regarding ceasing their operations in Singapore, its fleet of 70,000 bicycles have been left abandoned in public areas throughout the island.

Shi elaborated that oBikes's decision to cease operations in Singapore was made by the company's board of directors and shareholders.

"We apologise for any inconvenience caused and we are committed to fix the issue," he said. 

Mr Shi added that oBike might consider resuming operations in Singapore if "regulations are business friendly" or the company has a "new business plan” that will meet LTA's requirements for an operating license. 

oBike had said it stopped operations in Singapore due to difficulties in meeting the new requirements that are enforced by LTA in a bid to remedy the issue of indiscriminate parking. 

As of 4pm on Jun 26, the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE) received 232 complaints against oBike over not receiving refunds for their deposits, compared to 27 at the start of the year.

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, according to Channel NewsAsia.

Some consumers mentioned that the “refund deposit” option on the oBike app was removed, and many had trouble connecting to the Internet when using the app.

In a statement to CASE, 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.

CASE further suggested that consumers who made their 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".

"We will inform (users) once (the refund process) is finalised," added Mr Shi. 

In its statement to Channel NewsAsia on Jun 25, 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.