Is Amazon’s Shipping Policy Racist?


By Robert Stitt

Amazon offers free same-day delivery to many cities in the United States. Well, in most areas of those cities. Apparently, if you live in some minority neighborhoods, the service might not be free and may not be same-day. At least this was the complaint Amazon received from a number of customers who wanted to know why they did not qualify for the shipping discounts when they lived in the 27 cities where this service is said to be offered.

Initially, Amazon found that the free same-day service was offered based on zip code and not necessarily the city name, even though the literature lists the service by the name of the city. Interestingly, the zip codes that were excluded just happened to be those of minority neighborhoods.

Amazon contacted the Congressional Black Caucus and told them that they were looking into the situation, just in case anybody decided to contact their congressman about it. They assured the caucus that they were supportive of FTC investigations and were looking into the service boundaries. According to Bloomberg, Amazon added, “Very shortly, we will be expanding Prime Same Day Service to every zip code of the 27 cities where Prime Same Day delivery is currently launched.”

Accenting the point, Amazon promised to make the situation right in the areas where service was denied prior to offering service to anybody new. “We will further not launch the service in any new regions, until we are able to secure a carrier for every zip code. We are still figuring out the details and procuring last mile delivery for each of these zips, but we should have 100 percent coverage shortly.”

Amazon representatives were upset that people thought any part of their program was racist. Craig Berman, Amazon’s vice president for global communications, put it this way, “We don’t know what you look like when you come into our store, which is vastly different than physical retail. We are ridiculously prideful about that. We offer every customer the same price. It doesn’t matter where you live.”


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