Senator concerned Amazon excluding minorities from same-day delivery

Senator concerned Amazon excluding minorities from same-day delivery

Democratic Sen. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyCBS series 'Madam Secretary' exploring 'fake news' plot Senate Dems warn against cutting ObamaCare fund to pay for children's health program Trump’s North Korea strategy requires an intervention from Congress MORE is pressing Amazon for answers on how it decides which neighborhoods to include in its same-day delivery service. 

ADVERTISEMENT
The Massachusetts senator's Tuesday letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos came less than a week after Bloomberg published a sprawling report that found neighborhoods excluded from the company's same-day delivery are disproportionately made up of African-Americans or families with below-average incomes. 

"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," Markey wrote in his letter

Markey asked for a list of criteria Amazon uses to determine its same-day delivery areas and how those factors are weighed against each other.

Amazon recently started including same-day delivery service on some items for its Prime customers in 27 metro areas, according to Bloomberg. Amazon says it eventually plans to extend service to those entire metro areas, but some parts of those cities and surrounding suburbs are not currently eligible for the program. 

Bloomberg found those excluded ZIP codes — in cities such as Chicago, New York, Washington and Boston — contained high percentages of minorities or people with lower-than-average incomes. 

Amazon has previously said demographics make up no part of its delivery calculation. Instead, the company says it relies on distance to an Amazon warehouse, number of Prime members in a neighborhood and the number of delivery drivers it has in an area. 

Previous reports noted there is no evidence of overt discrimination, but Amazon's calculation could reinforce divides. For example, Prime subscriptions cost $99 per year, and surveys have shown that families with high incomes are more likely to have subscriptions. By using that in the calculation, it would follow that some low-income neighborhoods would be excluded. 

Markey focused on a particularly stark example in Boston, where three ZIP codes with large African-American populations are excluded, but surrounding areas are eligible. Amazon called it an "anomaly," and later Wednesday told the Boston Globe that it would bring same-day delivery to that neighborhood in the coming weeks. 

“Once completed, Prime members in every zip code in Boston, including the Roxbury neighborhood, will receive Prime Free Same-Day Delivery, in addition to existing Free Two-Day and One-Day shipping options,” Amazon said in a statement.

— This post has been updated with Amazon's statement.