Amazon has announced that it will expand Prime same-day delivery in Boston to include Roxbury, after the online retail giant faced criticism for excluding predominantly black ZIP codes from its service areas.
“Demographics play no role in it. Zero,” said Craig Berman, Amazon’s vice president for global communications, in Bloomberg’s initial report on the situation. When asked about Roxbury, Berman called it “an anomaly.”
— Daniel Moskowitz (@danmoskowitz) April 21, 2016
Following discussions with Amazon, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh released a pointed statement, ratcheting up the pressure on the Seattle-based company.
“We have been working with Amazon to show them that their current map of Boston leaves a hole right in the heart of our city, but it is clear they are not willing to change their policy,” Walsh said. “We understand that the people who run Amazon don’t live here and might not understand our great neighborhoods, but this is an egregious mistake that must be changed. We will continue to push for inclusivity for the residents of Boston and we hope that Amazon realizes that this form of business is not good business.”
A few hours later, Amazon relented, and announced that it would begin servicing Roxbury “in the coming weeks.”
“After speaking personally with the executives at Amazon, the company informed me today that they will now be offering same day service to every neighborhood in Boston,” Walsh said in a subsequent statement. “I thank Amazon for this decision, and look forward to its implementation.”
Walsh’s call followed a maelstrom of media attention, as well as backlash from elected officials, from City Councilor Tito Jackson, whose district includes Roxbury, to U.S. Sen. Ed Markey, who penned a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.
“I am concerned that your company’s model for determining which areas will receive same-day delivery disproportionately disadvantages minority and low-income communities, which may already face substantial obstacles accessing stores that sell essential items including groceries, toiletries, and school supplies,” Markey wrote. “While Amazon has the right to use its own business analysis to determine where to offer same-day delivery, concerns emerge when the company offers services to the vast majority of an area but selectively excludes a few neighborhoods where low-income and minority residents call home.”
Amazon offers same-day delivery to its Prime members in 27 metropolitan areas for no additional cost on orders of $35 or more.
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