Uber is bringing its phonecall-booking service to Australia this week in an appeal to older commuters.
When it launched to a tiny audience in 2010, no one could have predicted how Uber would disrupt the taxi industry with its revolutionary app-booking service in the following years. Flash forward fourteen years, and the multi-million dollar cab business is looking to its predecessors for inspiration as it tackles an aging market.
Uber is this week launching a service that allows users to phone a toll free number to arrange a pickup. Available between 5am and 8pm, the service also helps users set up an account and the app should they wish. Callers will need to have a mobile phone handy to receive their ride details over text.
Uber Australia and New Zealand managing director Dom Taylor said the company identified some older Australians were not using the service because they were not confident in navigating its app. This new feature not only appeals to the older market, but engages others with accessibility needs.
“It’s a bit of a back-to-the-future moment for us,” Taylor told the AAP. “There are groups within the community that are less open to using apps for a number of reasons, and we can still use our core product to help them move around.”
“We have seen in the US it is a source of new riders coming to the platform who are less comfortable with apps,” he said.
“We know that older Aussies have a lot of appointments and that they are a very social group of people who are still going out for dinners and to the movies.”
The service launched in the United States in May of last year, offering a Spanish and English language option to callers. While Uber Australia and New Zealand has not expanded on how the service will take payment at this stage, the US version of the service comes with a $5 additional fee for booking the basic UberX option, and no additional fee for larger or luxury car options. Payment is provided over the phone via credit card.
National Seniors Australia chief executive Chris Grice welcomed the move to make the service more accessible, and hoped it would help seniors with specific challenges, such as mobility issues.
“Not everyone is able or comfortable using apps because of privacy, security and storage concerns,” he said.
“It’s an interesting reflection of society, but a good one, when we welcomed being able to make a phone call and speak with a person to book a service.”