App-based services have made our lives easier in so many ways. But when things go awry, they offer few paths to real assistance [Editor’s note: the link may be paywalled]. From a report: There’s a trade-off between the speed of apps and their ability to provide timely help. Customer service isn’t dead, it’s just hiding very well, often under a maze of preset menu options that seem designed to make you want to chuck your phone out the window. I recently ordered a Lyft ride from the airport. As the driver loaded my bag into the trunk — something he didn’t seem happy about — he started talking under his breath. I asked if he was talking to me. His eyes got wide, and he said no, he wasn’t. Then he removed my bag and told me I had the wrong car. His license plate matched my app, but he said, “I’m not your ride, baby,” before driving off.
Part of me was relieved. But to let Lyft know, I had to spend probably 20 minutes going through endless options for pre-written problems I didn’t have. “Something happened during my ride” got me a drop-down menu with a bunch of inapt scenarios: “Demanding cash?” Nope. “Refusing my service animal?” Also no. Lyft can foresee these issues, but not “Acting unprofessional”? […] Except for safety issues, there’s no helpline to get a live person with Uber or Lyft. Ditto Spotify, Instagram and many other apps. Airbnb customer support has a phone number where actual humans answer. Instacart’s app has an email address with a field to include details about your problem. It’s also got a number you can ring 24/7.