Last Friday, we wrote an article about Singapore bike-sharing company oBike that has been “secretly converting” the deposits in users’ idle accounts into its 1095-day Super VIP (SVIP) membership subscription.
In response to this controversial issue which ignores users’ consent, oBike has released a statement on its Facebook page.
The company said that they launched the Super VIP (SVIP) membership plan globally in March 2018.
As part of this global push, oBike claimed that they notified users to have an option to make payment for the SVIP subscription with their deposit balance.
They only realised later through complaints that there have been several cases of users’ deposits being converted to a 1095-day SVIP membership without their consent.
“Based on our initial findings, we have discovered that this issue was caused by a technical lapse in our system due to the global push on our SVIP membership,” said oBike.
“To our affected oBike users, rest assured we will cancel the SVIP membership for you, and your paid deposit will be returned to the deposit balance in the oBike app.”
It also urged affected users to drop them a direct message on their Facebook page along with their oBike ID so they can facilitate the refund process.
Commenting further on users who have experienced a delay on their deposit refunds, oBike said that it has “increased the manpower size of [their] finance department to expedite all refund requests.”
It assured that all those who have requested for a refund will get their money back, and said that priority will be given to users who made their requests at an earlier date.
Refund Deposits Took Up To 4 Months
Although oBike claimed that this issue cropped up only in March in line with the SVIP launch, many users have left comments on the Facebook post that they have yet to receive their refund deposit and that it’s still “pending” since February.
Frustrated users also feel that since it’s oBike’s fault, oBike should auto-refund all affected users instead of getting them to personally message oBike with their ID.
One Facebook user even called out oBike for its inefficiency as they “took two months to discover a technical lapse in [their] system”.
She added that the fact that they take three to four months to process a refund is unacceptable, especially since their policy states that the deposit refund only takes 14 days.
So far, 68 out of 100 affected users have signed up for this petition.
If you’re an affected oBike user and your refund has been delayed beyond the promised 14 days, you can show your support by signing this petition and sharing it as widely as possible to help the issue gain widespread attention.
oBike A Money-Sucking App?
On a separate note, oBike users have raised another issue with the app:
Apparently, they are unable to end their trip even after locking their oBike.
“There is no option to end the ride manually, so it keeps charging,” explains an affected user.
As a result, their fares have been continually ongoing – one user even reported that she has been charged “over $1,268” to date!
oBike has yet to acknowledge this issue, but in any case, it further reiterates oBike’s inefficiency and monetary abuse of customers’ accounts.
This Problem Potentially Costs Millions Of Dollars
To add on, the SVIP conversion issue is not only pertinent in Singapore, but in Malaysia as well, as reported by one of our readers.
oBike is currently operational in 20 countries and it’s unclear which of its users in other countries are also affected.
Moreover, oBike has “more than 1 million active users locally“, so it’s very concerning to note that this problem could scale tens of millions of dollars.
We just hope that oBike resolves this problem and refund all affected users as soon as possible.
Relevant authorities such as the Land Transport Authority should also step up and penalise oBike accordingly – either force the company into compliance, or cease its operations.
Moving forward, many (if not all) users have lost trust in the company, so it’ll be hard to say if they will be able to rebuild their reputation and gain back users’ trust after this incident.
Featured Image Credit: watson.ch / oBike