Dial-an-Uber lets users talk to an actual human to hail a ride

Kirsten Korosec

Uber is piloting a new feature aimed at older adults that will let customers dial a 1-800 number and speak to an actual human being to hail a ride. The move isn't just a departure from its app roots; it's another sign that Uber is trying to transform into a transportation company that serves a larger customer base.

The dial-an-Uber feature was "designed with older adults in mind;" however, anyone preferring conversational support will benefit from this pilot, the company said. The feature was built based on feedback from older adults who told the company that "live conversations, and simplicity of experience can make a difference for their transportation needs," according to the ride-hailing company.

After dialing 1-833-USE-UBER, the customer will be paired with a live team member that confirms their trip request and  provides an upfront price quote.

There are some important caveats to this feature that could shut out folks who don't own a cellular phone.

Customers still must have a phone that can receive SMS to receive important messages about the ETA of the ride, driver’s license plate details and the driver’s name. Users will continue to receive messages before and during a trip. Once it ends, they'll receive a trip receipt.

The company will initially launch the phone number 1-833-USE-UBER in Arizona. There is no extra charge for using this service, although Uber noted that carrier message and data rates may apply. Anyone in the state can call the phone number to hail an Uber in the cities where the service is currently available. Users can also ask for specific Uber options such as UberX, Uber Comfort, Uber Black, Black SUV, as well as Uber Assist and WAV, where available.

Uber said it will expand the dial-an-Uber to more states in the coming months.

Uber was also explicit that the 1-800 number is not meant for general customer support inquiries, although it will certainly be used for that purpose.