Uber’s latest test books rides with a phone call, not the app

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Uber is piloting a different way to order one its cars beyond its apps or voice assistants, and it’s one you might be familiar with if you ever had to order a cab before 2009 or so. It’s testing an option to book an Uber via phone call in Arizona — you order a car by dialing 1-833-USE-UBER.

An Uber operator will take your details, give you a price estimate and order a car for you. As such, you won’t need a smartphone to hitch an Uber ride. You’ll at least need a cell phone though, as Uber will text you details about the car and driver, and when you should expect the car to arrive. It’ll also send you a receipt after you reach your destination.

If you already have an Uber account, you can choose from payment options that are already on file. Otherwise, you can sign up the first time you call. You’ll only need to provide some basic information, including your name, zip code and payment details. Uber will store that data in the same way as it would if you provided it through the app.

While a phone booking option might seem somewhat antiquated for a company that has long focused on letting people book cars quickly, it’s a plus for accessibility. Uber says it designed the feature mainly for older people, some of whom told the company they preferred talking to a instead of using an app to book a ride. However, anyone in the pilot areas who’d rather order a car over the phone can do so.

Uber isn’t charging an extra fee for the service, though you’ll still have to cover your usual messaging, call and data expenses. The ride options you can choose from UberX, Uber Comfort, Uber Black, Black SUV, Uber Assist and wheelchair-accessible vehicles. Though the phone booking service is only available in Arizona for now, Uber plans to expand it elsewhere in the coming months.

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