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Amazon delivery service excludes some black areas in the US

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By Noel Young, Correspondent

April 25, 2016 | 3 min read

Amazon Prime Free Same-Day Delivery doesn’t serve predominantly black neighborhoods as well as it serves white ones, according to an in-depth report by Bloomberg , which looked at areas across the United States where the service is available.

No delivery for major black area in Bostom

The most striking gap- headlined in a report in the Boston Globe - is in Boston, where three ZIP codes encompassing the primarily black neighborhood of Roxbury are excluded from same-day service. The neighborhoods that surround it on all sides are eligible.

The Bloomberg findings show that ZIP codes for black neighborhoods in other cities are excluded to varying degrees and because of that, Bloomberg concludes Amazon is falling short of its promise of an “egalitarian shopping experience.”

Bloomberg’s story notes that there is no evidence that Amazon makes decisions on where to deliver based on race, and a company spokesman said that when drawing up its free-delivery maps, the initial focus is on ZIP codes where there’s a high concentration of Prime members, not ethnic composition of neighborhoods.

But the Bloomberg story argues that while there “is a logical approach from a cost and efficiency perspective … in segregated cities where most of those paying members are concentrated in predominately white parts of town, a solely data-driven calculation that looks at numbers instead of people can reinforce long-entrenched inequality in access to retail services.”

Bloomberg compared Amazon same-day delivery areas across the U.S. (77.6 million Americans live in those ZIP codes) with U.S. Census Bureau data. The report — focusing more heavily on Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, New York and Washington, D.C.

In Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, and Washington, black citizens are about half as likely to live in neighborhoods with access to Amazon same-day delivery as white residents.

In New York, same-day delivery is available throughout Manhattan, Staten Island, and Brooklyn, but not in the Bronx and some majority black neighborhoods in Queens.

In an email to GeekWire, another Amazon spokesman reiterated that Prime Free Same-Day Delivery is new and evolving.

“There are a number of factors that go into determining where we can deliver same-day,” said Scott Stanzel, Amazon’s director of operations communications. “Those include distance to the nearest fulfillment center, local demand in an area, numbers of Prime members in an area, as well as the ability of our various carrier partners to deliver up to 9:00 pm every single day, even Sunday. We will continue expanding our delivery capabilities and are adding more zip codes rapidly.”

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