Uber is launching a new telephone booking service aimed at older consumers in the U.S. who might not use the internet on their phones, according to a report by VentureBeat.
The service is starting in Arizona, where users can call 1-833-USE-UBER to speak with a live representative. The phone doesn’t have to be a smartphone, but it does need to be able to text so a person can get messages about ETAs, car details and a receipt for the ride.
On the first call, the user will be prompted to set up an account by providing some personal information like credit card data and zip code. The phone number will be associated with the account for future ride requests. Payments will be deducted from the linked account.
Uber doesn’t charge any extra fees for using the new service.
The telephone operator service has previously been tested in India, Egypt, Ukraine and Mexico. This is the first time it has been trialed in the U.S.
According to Pew Research, 81 percent of all adults in the U.S. own a smartphone, and 13 percent have a regular mobile phone.
Uber is offering the new service to ensure that it’s reaching all segments of the population, as there are a number of older consumers who can’t access the internet on their phones. Uber does allow for bookings through a web browser, but an account needs to be set up in advance.
Uber also offers Uber Assist, its accessibility program, as well as a feature that allows people to book rides for other users.
“This new feature combines the efficiency of Uber’s matching technology with the convenience and additional support of a live team member,” the company wrote in a blog post. “It was designed with older adults in mind, though our hope is anyone preferring conversational support will benefit from this pilot. We built it based on feedback from older adults who told us the live conversations and simplicity of experience can make a difference for their transportation needs.”