To help its customers flag any instance of misbehaviour, dispute or break-down during an ongoing trip, the ride-hailing company Uber has now launched a new safety helpline which will be available 24x7 in India. Through this helpline, riders can speak directly with Uber's in-house safety team. This new feature comes as an addition over the already present SOS button which connects the riders directly to the law enforcement authorities in an emergency.
This new project was running in Chandigarh since March and is now going to be launched across 40 cities in which Uber currently operates in. In the initial stages, the support on this helpline will be provided in English and Hindi. Also, for the time being, this feature will not be available on the Uber Lite platform which works low connectivity situations or on a phone that does not have large storage space.
"All our riders will now be able to access this helpline, any time of the day or night, should they need urgent assistance during their trip," Pavan Vaish, Head of Central Operations (Rides), Uber India and South Asia said at a conference here. So far, users could seek support by writing in within the Uber app. San Francisco-based Uber is locked in a bruising battle with Bengaluru-based Ola in India and other markets. Uber considers India as one of the key markets and has been pumping in investment to strengthen its presence in the hyper-competitive market.
"At Uber, we are constantly evaluating how to raise safety standards by integrating feedback we receive from riders on how they would like to communicate with us. Based on this, we are launching the 24x7 safety helpline today," Vaish added. He, however, asserted that the new tool is not a replacement for the emergency button available in the safety tool kit.
The new safety line will provide riders with an option to reach out to Uber's team for an urgent, non-emergency issue, during a trip such as reporting a co-passenger's misbehaviour, a dispute with a driver or a break-down. At the backend, trained representatives of the Safety Incident Response Team will be available around the clock to resolve such issues. The safety helpline number is available under the 'safety toolkit' banner hosted within the Uber app. The company has already been running various initiatives including a safety tool kit for riders and drivers, call anonymisation to protect the privacy of riders and background checks of drivers. Vaish said that the company also engages closely with law enforcement agencies.