It is not news that oBike is closing its operations in Singapore.
Many of the Singaporeans are unsure if we can get back our deposits which amount to SGD 49 per user.
I personally have a deposit with oBike. However, I am not angry at not getting back the deposit but rather how oBike handled it.
oBike is one of the first few players who provided the bike share service in Singapore. They were the brave ones who overcame several challenges including facing social resistance for the services.
Given the hype, many aspiring entrepreneurs and upcoming companies look up to oBike as a company. They have this responsibility to set an example not just to aspiring individuals but to the industry as well.
They did not announce in advance on the closure nor any follow-up on the users’ deposits. The only follow-up was this statement from the news.
“The company also said in a statement on its website that it will waive all active subscriptions and refund any deposits by Jun 26.”
It is now overdue already.
It wasn’t a graceful closure. And there is an impact.
How would users view sharing services in the future?
Singaporeans would be more cautious to try such services. Potential businesses will see Singapore as less viable. Consumers and potential businesses lose out.
It is rare that I feel Singaporeans behaved well. And this is one of those cases.
Many Singaporeans stood up for these bike-sharing companies despite the mess and inconvenience it has caused us. We understood the value the company brings and we showed empathy by expressing our understanding that it isn’t a simple task to overcome these social barriers. We defended them from those comments on the social media blaming them for the messy bicycles littered around.
Yet, what we get in return is a surprise closure and the removal of the refund button. If the company has no means to give a refund, then say it.
Don’t leave your supporters hanging. To make empty promises, remove refund button, and keep quiet for the period is just plain rude. It almost feels like a betrayal.
I understand from the company’s perspective, they only care about profit. At this stage, if they admit that they don’t have the means to refund the deposits, it will only damage their chance of liquidating the company.
But ignoring is not the only way. They are taking the easy way out. The dishonorable way. And this is not the way to run a business.