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Uber killed ‘calling a cab’ – now it’s bringing it back

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Thanks to the advent of Uber and fellow ride-hailing apps, it may have been many years since people in the major cities had to physically ‘call a cab’.

Now Uber is testing a feature that will allow non-smartphone owners to book a ride by – cue gasps – making a phone call!

The company has launched a 1-833-USE-UBER service in Arizona in the United States, which will enable potential passengers to speak to a customer service rep and explain where they’d like to be picked up and where they want to go.

The user will be able to request all of the usual ride classes rep will provide the price, before confirming the ride. The details will then be sent via SMS to the customer’s feature phone. After the ride concludes there’ll be a receipt texted to the phone also.

Related: Smartphones

Currently, the company is only offering the service in Arizona, but if successful, it’s likely to expand the initiative to other states and countries.

The company is massively popular among millennials, who’ve come to think of hailing an Uber as the norm. However, the firm said the phone service has been designed with its older and more vulnerable customers in mind.

In a statement, Uber said: “We built 1-833-USE-UBER to expand access for anyone that prefers a little extra assistance when they want to use our services. There’s always more to be done, but this feature brings the convenience of live support to our matching technology so everyday customers get the ride they want.”

Phoning a taxi? A revolutionary concept if there ever was one. Whatever next? Uber setting up ranks outside train stations in various parts of the world? An option to argue about the fee just for the sake of it?

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