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This is a weekly column that offers news, insights, analysis, and user tips for rideshare platforms like Uber and Lyft. Look for it every Tuesday after the live show, right here on dailytechnewsshow.com.
The interaction in the above image probably seems very familiar to anyone who’s ever tried to contact Uber for any reason. Oh sure, firing off an email is easy enough, you can even do it from the website or the app. But it’s pretty obvious that everything is answered by a computer that just picks out a few key words and generates a form-letter response. At least Uber responds promptly, which is more than can be said from rival Lyft; it many cases it takes over a week to get a similarly clueless response.
Why is the support structure of these companies so bad? Well, apparently with Uber you get what you pay for, and the company treats its customer service representatives about as well–or worse–than they treat their so-called driver-partners. Uber takes support so seriously that they’ve gone the extra several thousand miles to contract the task out to a company in the Philippines. I was unable to find any real information about the state of Lyft’s customer service, which is an unfortunate side effect of being second-place (and less SEO friendly) in the rideshare wars.
So, what’s a layman to do when they need help? While I haven’t discovered any tricks to getting Lyft to respond faster, with some persistence and patience you can get to someone at Uber that doesn’t have the bedside manner of a Gmail auto-response.
Your first email to Uber will always get a form-letter response. Keep replying with the same query (maybe change up the wording a little) until someone that’s not a computer finally answers. Unfortunately when you finally do get a human to help you (after the third email or so) the response time slows down greatly. You may even need to start the process all over again. Be persistent!
If your issue is a bit more urgent (but not an emergency, always dial 911 or the appropriate emergency services number in your area for accidents or violent incidents), both Uber and Lyft have a critical response line when you can (*gasp*) talk to a live human being on the phone! Try not to abuse it; Uber at least has been known to change or take down their phone number. You can at the time of this writing dial Uber at 800-285-9481, and Lyft at 855-865-9553. Both numbers are U.S. only unless you have a cheap international plan, and as far as I’m aware, both numbers are available for drivers and passengers. Speaking of drivers, Uber is slowly rolling out phone support in limited markets, which hopefully becomes a widespread thing quickly.
Hopefully this post will help people get… help… when they need it. Once you know the tricks, talking to a machine isn’t all that bad. I mean, you could be dealing with those pesky humans at the taxi depot instead.
Sekani Wright is an experienced Uber driver working in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. If you have any questions you would like answered for this column, you can contact him at djsekani at gmail dot com, or on twitter and reddit at the username djsekani. Have a safe trip!