Uber's in-app messaging service is their attempt to stop drivers from honking their horns to get your attention while they're waiting at the pick-up. Anonymous texting asking where you were was never very good, so Uber introduced pickup messages. Their way of letting you message on the Uber app.
Pickup messages were introduced in 2022 as a way for drivers to communicate with drivers and vice versa. It includes a mechanism to prevent spam or inappropriate communications and only focuses on getting the driver to their car as soon as possible.
The system uses a relay that helps manage communications and keep phone numbers anonymous. A rider can send a message that will be read aloud to the driver to avoid distractions. The driver has a quick response to acknowledge changes or messages or a full chat function that they can use for more involved communication.
The original idea of Pickup Messages was apparently to help in countries where Uber wanted to be present but where texting was either expensive or not reliably available. Integrating it into the app also saves costs for the driver, as they are not counted for free SMS or cost per message.
Sending a message to the driver on the Uber app
If you've never messaged on the Uber app before, it's really easy. Once you have ordered a pickup, the chat feature becomes available. The system creates a relay between you and the driver by keeping both phone numbers private and limiting messaging between the two to driving topics only.
- Select your driver's name in the Uber app.
- Select Contact at the bottom of the window.
- Select Message and enter your message.
- Select Submit when done.
When you start a message you have two options, use "All Pickup Notes" or type your own messages. The All Pickup Notes section has boilerplate messages that cover most situations, but the free text option lets you tailor your message specifically to the situation.
Depending on the driver and what they are doing at the time, they may respond with a simple thumbs up to acknowledge your message, respond with a more detailed acknowledgment, or not respond at all. Drivers are encouraged not to lose focus on the road, so if they don't respond, it's nothing personal.
If they're stuck in traffic or waiting at the pick-up point, they'll likely respond.
There is another courier option with Uber and that's for if you leave something in the car. Most of us have done it and probably will do it again. You are in a hurry, put something down to do something else and jump out of the car to your next destination. The driver is as busy as you are, so don't check the seat for anything you left behind.
Message Uber about a lost item
If your ride has been completed and paid for, you will not have the Pickup Messages feature available. Instead, you should visit Uber's website and contact the driver indirectly about a lost item.
- Visit this page on the Uber website and sign in.
- Select the trip where you left your item in the car from the list in the center.
- Leave a phone number for the driver to call you.
- Select Submit.
Depending on what your driver is doing at the time, they may react instantly or take a little while. They should contact you within 24-48 hours and arrange for you to pick up your item.
If you haven't heard from them, there's an appeals process you can initiate from the My Trips portion of the Uber app. Select the Comments option for the trip you were on when you left the item and select "I lost an item". Fill out the form and wait for a response.
Pick up messages
Uber's pickup messages are actually pretty smart. Called Michelangelo, it's part SMS relay and part smart program that uses neurolinguistic programming to automatically generate a response for the driver.
Once a message is sent, it is received by the system and sent to Michelangelo. The program then encodes the message, tries to understand what is being said, offers a prediction score on what it thinks of the message, and then forwards it to another service.
This service evaluates the most likely response to this message and sends the most likely message and response(s) to the driver. The driver can then select the most suitable one with one click. All designed to minimize driver distraction. Good, huh?