Following backlash from a Bloomberg investigation that found minority neighborhoods in several major cities were excluded from Prime Now same-day delivery, Amazon will roll out free service to those areas in New York and Boston, according to the news service. More recently, Amazon did the same thing in Chicago‘s south side.
Areas added to Prime Now this week include zip codes in the Bronx, NY; the same was done last week in the Roxbury section of Boston. All of the neighborhoods added are predominantly minority in terms of ethnic makeup. With these moves, Amazon is going above and beyond its practice of providing Prime Now for free to $99-per-year Prime members only in 27 U.S. markets.
Update: Amazon plans to add Prime Now to under-served minority areas in all 27 markets where the service is offered.
While Amazon said race had nothing to do with the reason for the service gaps – basing it on low concentrations of Prime members, warehouses and available delivery services – politicians, community activists and social commentators jumped all over the company for what they saw as a practice of racial exclusion. Some politicians wrote directly to Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos with their complaints.
Even if the bias was completely unintended and based simply on business rules, perception can often be taken for reality. Thus Amazon did the right thing by expanding Prime Now to the New York and Boston neighborhoods, and should quickly follow suit in Atlanta, Dallas and Washington DC.