Photograph by Justin Sullivan—Getty Images
By Kia Kokalitcheva
March 30, 2016

After years of forcing customers to use email to complain about anything, Uber is now committing to more updated technology.

On Wednesday, the ride-hailing giant announced it plans to roll out globally its in-app customer service support features, which it has been quietly implementing in the U.S. since late 2015. For passengers, this will mean that from the app they’ll be able to check their ratings, report an issue with their payment or ride, or ask for help retrieving an item they left in the car, for example.

A spokeswoman confirmed that starting now, passengers won’t be able to send a message to its old support email and will instead be directed to use the in-app feature.

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Though the company has been working on this new approach to customer service, a mass shooting in Kalamazoo, Mich. last month raised questions around its customer response practices. While it has a “panic button” available in its app in India, Uber insists that in the U.S., passengers should contact the authorities in the case of emergencies. Shortly after the Michigan shooting, it was revealed that Uber has a “Critical Safety Response Line” in a few U.S. cities, but it hasn’t advertised it, reportedly because it’s testing how easily customers can find it within its app.

And that’s still a bit of a snag even with Uber’s new in-app approach to customer service. Though it’s quite easy and simple to use, it’s buried inside the app. Passengers have to pull out the main menu, then tap on “Help” which is one of the many options in the menu, then choose a category of issues, and finally browse through the suggested common issues. It’s not terribly difficult but also not entirely intuitive and it does require several steps.

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