Debt-ridden, nationally lambasted and accused of being a shady enterprise, news reports have revealed the exact figures oBike owes to both its users and town councils. It’s in the millions.
Local town councils are using their authority to slap fines on the bicycle-sharing firm for its failure to remove illegally parked bicycles and obstructing public spaces, TODAY reports.
After the company abruptly shut down their Singapore operations last Monday, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) ordered them to collect all their abandoned two-wheelers by July 4. But community boards, who are not optimistic that oBike can meet its deadline, are taking matters into their own hands.
oBike is estimated to owe at least S$122,100 in fines to four town councils alone, according to TODAY. The estimated number of deserted bikes, which officials say pose a safety hazard, ranges from 14,000 to 70,000 nationwide.
On top of the fines they owe local town councils, the troubled firm has yet to announce a plan to roll out refunds to their Singapore user-base. For more than a week now, the company came under fire for its slow response to refunding customers’ deposits.
Singapore’s thousands of oBike users paid deposits ranging from $19 to $49 into the company in order to use the shared bikes to ensure “responsibility while using (their) service.”
But while the company policy guarantees that customers can have their deposits refunded within 14 days of ending their oBike membership, most Singapore riders have yet to see their money. Former 0Bikers have resorted to filing official claims with the Consumer Association of Singapore (CASE) in the hopes of getting the money owed to them.
But in an interview with The Straits Times yesterday, oBike founder and chairman Shi Yi offered his good intentions but provided no solid plan for refunding the $6.3 million his company owes riders.
“In any case, as long as the user wants to get the deposit back, we will try our best to repay it,” the 29-year-old Shanghai-born multi-millionaire told ST.
So what’s the hold-up then?
He says the company is trying to raise money from its shareholders to replace the money they owe to an estimated 100,000 former customers. But if that plan fails, Shi Yi told Lianhe Zaobao he has one last option in mind.
“The worst plan is that I am willing to use my shares to bear the cost.”