oBike users S$49 deposit converted into VIP programme without consent, refunds delayed
Singaporean bike-sharing company obike is facing a fair bit of complaints from its users.
This time, it isn’t just about bicycles thrown into trees or into water bodies.
For the uninitiated, to use an oBike bicycle, users need to pay a S$49 deposit, which doesn’t include the cost of the actual ride itself.
When the one-time deposit is paid for, the user will have to separately pay for the cost of their ride, which varies according to credit points, which is influenced by good riding behaviour.
Users start out with 100 credit points, which allows them to ride pretty cheaply — 50 cents per 15 minutes.
Promotional events may also allow them to redeem some rides for free.
The S$49 deposit is refundable when users stop using their service.
However, those who have left their accounts idle may have recently discovered that their deposit isn’t there.
Instead, it was converted to become payment for a subscription programme they did not sign up for.
Converted into a SVIP account
A Reddit forum user, tjhan, recently posted about this issue on r/Singapore subreddit.
The purpose was to alert obike users about how the company had allegedly converted idle accounts into a SVIP (Super VIP) subscription. This meant that the deposit was then used to pay for the subscription, and users who were looking to get refunded would then be unable to do so.
This was also echoed by other forum users on HardwareZone, who noticed the same problem.
Screenshot via HardwareZone’s EDMW forums
Refunds taking longer to process
On oBike’s site, it’s said that the refunds are supposed to be processed within 14 days.
Should one not receive their refund after 30 working days, they can seek more information and assistance with the oBike team.
Redditors confirmed that those who had proceeded to apply for a refund found their requests yet to be processed.
Other disgruntled users had taken to oBike’s official Facebook page to leave complaints as well.
Terms of Service: Users to agree to conversion
According to oBike’s
poorly-written terms of service, it mentions that the “rider agree to convert deposit to oBike annual membership subscription” and the deposit will be converted to a membership subscription, which happens after the rider agrees and clicks the agree button.
So, idle accounts should not have been converted to a SVIP account without the consent of the users.
But there is a clause that states that the terms of service can be amended at any time:
So if something has been amended to this agreement, the users can be on the losing end.
Is it worth converting to SVIP?
Taking a S$49 deposit and converting it to 1,095 days of usage (which is equivalent to three years), add two family members in the plan and global free rides?
For most idle users, this doesn’t make much sense.
There are currently other plans available that are more worth it for casual users who need a temporary trial period to see if they can keep up with riding, e.g. S$5 for a 30-day plan.
In response to Mothership.sg queries, oBike said:
oBike launched the Super VIP(SVIP) membership plan globally in March 2018, offering additional features such as global access to oBike bicycles and the family plan function. The aim of this new upgrade was to provide our users with upgraded benefits and value through our service as a sustainable transportation mode. The global push featured a pop-up banner and options for user to express their consent to make payment for the SVIP subscription with their deposit balance.
However, we found out that there have been some cases of our 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.
oBike would like to express our sincerest apologies on the inconvenience caused by this technical lapse as our user’s privacy and consent is of utmost importance to us. We are committed to resolve all affected cases as quickly as possible with highest priority. 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.
We urge our users experiencing these technical issues to kindly drop us a direct message on our Facebook page with your oBike ID for us to further assist you.
With regards to our users experiencing a delay on their deposit refunds, we have increased the manpower size of our finance department to expedite all refund requests. Rest assured that users who have requested for a refund on their deposits will receive their refunds back as soon as possible and priority will be given to users who made their requests at an earlier date.
We sincerely apologise for the inconvenience caused and thank everyone for your patience and understanding as we resolve these technical issues.
In the meantime, check your oBike account if you haven’t been using it for a while.
If, like other users have reported, your deposit has been converted into a SVIP subscription, contact oBike right away.
Top photo via Mothership.sg’s Instagram