Uber now offers phone support in many cities, although it’s still working on rolling out phone support nationwide. However, phone support can be very different from the support you receive via your app, email, or even in-person. Today, RSG contributor Will Preston outlines what you need to know about Uber support, the type of questions they can answer, and how Uber can make phone support better.
Uber phone support is better than nothing, but it has a long ways to go. Based on my experiences with it, they’ve done a good job with quick response times and I’d say it’s a typical first-level outsourced-to-overseas phone support system, but it’s also missing a few key components.
My opinion is that Uber’s phone support is bad – but it’s still better than nothing.
How to Contact Uber Phone Support
You can either contact them via your app or call the direct phone number. To contact them via the app, just click the phone icon that appears in the upper right-hand corner when click on the Help option in the app, then click “Call an agent” in the pop-up that appears.
It will then attempt a call to the Uber support line. You will probably also get a prompt from your phone if you really want to call that number, and you’ll have to click “call” to actually call it.
You can also create a contact called Uber Support, with the phone number set to 800-593-7069. That way, all you have to do is click the voice dial button and say “Ok google [or Siri] Call Uber Support.” This is the phone number that appears when you Google “Uber tech support.”
What Happens When You Call Uber Phone Support
An auto attendant answers when you call and will take you through a series of prompts. Uber has reported that the average wait time to speak with an agent is 30 seconds but it takes around 30-60 seconds to get through all the automated prompts (kind of annoying). It will also take longer if you are not calling from the phone number associated with your account, as you will have to manually enter that number. So it might be about two minutes before you’re actually talking to a live person.
I have dialed Uber support many times though and after going through the prompts, I’ve ended up speaking to a live person almost immediately. Unfortunately, the last call took quite a while to reach a live person, and I had to repeatedly listen to the same single 60-second message over and over. It contained music and repeated messages from Uber, such as references to the Rating Protection feature, and how you get 6 Destination Filters per day. This is a big customer service fail, as there were multiple times when I thought someone was finally answering my call, but no. It was just a recording saying “Hi, I’m Maya from Customer Support in San Francisco, and let me tell you about driver destinations!”
As Uber is increasingly moving their phone support operations overseas, you will most likely end up speaking to someone in the Philippines. English is taught in the school system in the Philippines, so there isn’t too much “lost in translation” during a typical call. With a few exceptions, operators I spoke to did not have any trouble understanding me, nor did I have any trouble understanding them. They actually do a pretty good job of reiterating to me what they believed my concern was.
It could be that I am very used to the Filipino accent, but I didn’t find the accent of the typical operator to be that pronounced. But for those unfamiliar with the Filipino accent, it may be more difficult to understand them.
It will also help if you realize you are speaking to someone for whom English is a second language. Speaking slowly and clearly will also help them understand you better and will help reduce time wasted by misunderstandings.
What Doesn’t Happen When You Call Uber Support
One of the biggest complaints about calling Uber support is that there is no ticket created in the Uber support app when you do so. This is problematic for two reasons, the biggest of which is that there is no record of the answer they gave you.
This might not be a big deal on small questions, but what if you asked an important policy question? Suppose you read my previous column about me being threatened and you were considering carrying a firearm. You called Uber support and asked them if it was OK, and the person who answered the phone said it was totally fine as long as it was legal where you live. Which it’s not, according to Uber’s policies.
Anyone who follows this blog or has searched “weapons” on uber.com has seen that they do not allow drivers to carry firearms. They do allow non-lethal weapons like pepper spray, but Lyft doesn’t even allow those.
But suppose an Uber support person told you over the phone that carrying a weapon was OK. You then carried a weapon in your car and used it in self defense against a crazed passenger. Besides having to deal with law enforcement on whether or not your use was justified, you will most surely lose your job with Uber for carrying a firearm against their policy. And you will have no proof that someone in support told you it was fine.
I do believe that Uber is using some sort of ticketing system on the back end, but it is a completely different ticketing system to the one used in the app. Phone operators do have access to the ticketing system used by the app, as they can open up tickets for you. But they do not use it to track your calls.
The second reason why it’s a problem that they don’t use the same ticketing system is that you can’t add follow up questions that come up after the call is over. Suppose you had a multi-part question and forgot one of the parts, but remembered it after you hung up. You could start all over by calling back, but that’s a big waste of time. If there was a record of it in your app, you could simply reply to it and continue the conversation.
What If They Can’t Answer Your Question?
This is where the difference between good and bad support is. In a normal support desk, questions that don’t get answered get rolled up to the next level of support. You might get transferred to a person with more detailed knowledge. You might be placed in a queue for that type of person while you wait on hold. None of that happens at Uber.
If the Uber support person can’t answer your question, they open up a ticket just like the one you would open if you did it yourself in the app. The problem is (in my experience) that the tickets opened this way never have any detail in them. They are literally just a ticket that says “this is a ticket about your Uber Fuel Card” problem. None of the detail you explained to them is in there. That means, if this happens to you, all you really did was delay having to submit a real ticket and explain yourself in text.
Is This Better than the App?
Most definitely, but not completely. If the question you have can be answered by a first level tech support person, then Uber phone support can get you a pretty quick answer to the question. For example, as will be discussed later, a perfect example would be “how do I enter a driver destination, or destination filter?” Any first level support person will be able to answer that.
Things were different when it came to policy information. San Diego recently got Quest incentives, which are bonuses based on the number of rides. I was wondering whether or not a POOL ride with multiple pickups was considered one ride or multiple rides for the purpose of bonuses. I called support four times and had an answer to the question in under five minutes start to finish. All four operators told me that an UberPOOL ride with multiple riders is considered one ride, not multiple rides.
The problem is that this is completely incorrect. I verified from my most recent pay statement that each pickup in a POOL ride counts as a ride towards Quest. Did the operators misunderstand what I meant when I said “multiple riders,” or were they improperly trained on the policy? Either way, I was given bad information four times.
Calling support means I have to go offline, as I can’t be on the phone with support while I’m driving with a passenger. If it is indeed a simple question, firing off a quick email with the question should take very little time. You will definitely get a quicker, better response via phone, but you might waste less time getting a response doing it via email in the app – and you’ll have a record of the answer.
What Types of Questions Work?
The best questions for Uber phone support are ones demanding an immediate response. A perfect example is when my app suddenly stopped working. I would go online and then it would immediately go offline. I tried rebooting, etc, and nothing helped. So I called tech support.
A few minutes later I was talking with a live person who understood my problem. She asked me to hold a few minutes and then came back and said this was a problem they were aware of and they were fixing. Interestingly enough, the problem fixed itself by the time she came back to me.
What Types of Questions Don’t Work?
Questions that involve any specialized groups won’t work with phone support. A perfect example is the Uber Fuel Card. That’s a special team, and the best that happens when you dial into phone support is that they will open up a support ticket for you in the app. I know because that’s the first thing I called Uber Phone Support for.
It’s also questionable whether or not it’s a good idea to use the phone support system for anything that could get you in trouble, or is about policies. (A perfect example is mentioned above about how UberPOOL rides are counted towards Quest.) It is possible, for example, to ask them about the airport pickup regulations in your area. But if the person gets its wrong and you get in trouble, you will have no record of the answer they gave you. You could find yourself deactivated by doing something you were told to do over the phone. You might want to limit your phone support questions to things like “how do I set a driver destination filter?”
How Could Uber Make it Better?
They could do two things. The first would be to use the same ticketing system for phone and app support. Require phone operators to summarize the question and answer in a ticket, or better yet automatically attach a recording of the call to the ticket. That’s pretty easy to do technologically.
The second, harder – but much better – thing to do would be to have second line phone support at each of the special teams. This is more expensive and requires more infrastructure, but it’s totally doable for a company of Uber’s size. If my question can’t be answered by first level tech support, I should be able to be transferred into a queue for a second level person.
Readers, have you called into Uber phone support and what has been your experience?
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-Will Preston @ RSG
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