Uber's Been Testing a (Secret) Emergency Phone Line: 800-353-UBER

Image by AP
Image by AP

Something gone badly wrong with your Uber ride? Well, the ride-hailing company has been testing a new emergency phone line in 22 cities, that you can reach by dialling 800-353-8237 (that’s 800-353-UBER).

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The existence of the “Critical Safety Response Line” was confirmed by Uber on Wednesday, reports Inc. Apparently it’s been in testing since October, though the company hadn’t yet told either drivers or riders about it. Apparently that’s part of the point according to Inc: The company is testing out different places to put the number inside its app, so it wanted to see whereabouts if was more and less discoverable. Quartz first spotted the number, but it’s only now been confirmed.

It’s worth pointing out that the number isn’t a replacement for 911. Instead, it takes the caller through to one of two call centers—one in Chicago, the other in Phoenix—that can deal with a rider or driver’s problem. The operators could deal with problems that are urgent but wouldn’t require the emergency services—such as leaving important medication or an expensive item of jewelry in the back of a car. For real emergencies, you’d still call the real emergency services.

It’s inevitable that people will suggest the initiative could have helped during the Kalamazoo shootings, though that situation would surely lie outside the purview of the new hotline.

It’s currently not clear if the pilot scheme will be extended.

[Quartz via Inc]

DISCUSSION

Had an Uber driver point a taser dart pistol in my face (armed with an aiming light and finger on the trigger) after I demanded that he stop recording my wife and I, and use the app, after he feigned getting lost and refused to take the freeway. This number would have really come in handy: “can you please call the driver and ask him to take the gun out of my face?”