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Amazon pledges to fill racial gaps with Prime Same Day delivery

May 6, 2016 02:24 PM
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(Bloomberg)—Amazon.com Inc. plans to eliminate gaps in its free same-day delivery service in all 27 cities where it is offered, responding to complaints that some minority neighborhoods are excluded.

Amazon, No. 1 in the Internet Retailer 2016 Top 500 Guide, made the pledge in a statement obtained by the Congressional Black Caucus. The organization, which represents black members of Congress, had alerted Amazon it was monitoring the situation and supported calls for an investigation by the Federal Trade Commission into the service boundaries.

"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," Amazon said in the statement obtained by the caucus and shared with Bloomberg News. "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 spokesman Craig Berman declined to comment.

U.S. Representative George Kenneth Butterfield, a Democrat from North Carolina and chairman of the black caucus, said the group "is anticipating the results of Amazon’s plan to expand its delivery services to previously excluded zip codes."

Congressman Bobby Rush of Illinois called for an FTC investigation and spoke about the issue on the floor of the House of Representatives. Afterward, Amazon pledged in a letter to Rush to serve Chicago’s South Side in coming weeks.

Butterfield commended Rush "for calling on Amazon to take swift action."

In addition to Chicago, Amazon made similar pledges to elected officials representing Boston and New York City following complaints that minority communities in those cities were excluded from the service.

An analysis by Bloomberg News highlighted racial disparities in areas where the service was available in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, New York and Washington, where black residents were less likely than white residents to have access to the service.

Amazon has already expanded the service to Roxbury, the Boston community that had been excluded. Roxbury was the most vivid example of exclusion, a hole in the center of the city where the service wasn’t offered surrounded by areas where it was.

Amazon started its free same-day service last year as a perk of Amazon Prime membership, which costs $99 a year. Service boundaries were determined by the concentration of Prime members in each area, proximity to warehouses where goods are stored and the company’s ability to find delivery partners to serve an area, according to Amazon, with race playing no role.

 

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