Facing heaps of political pressure, Amazon on Tuesday announced it plans to bring same-day delivery service to Boston's Roxbury neighborhood. The company had excluded the predominantly minority neighborhood in its same-day coverage area.
"We are actively working with our local carrier to enable service to the Roxbury 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," spokesman Scott Stanzel said in a statement.
Earlier, the controversy over the lapsehad boiled over into a full-on political throw-down.
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Mayor Marty Walsh said in a statement earlier in the day on Tuesday that his office urged the online shopping giant to reconsider its decision not to bring the service to three ZIP codes in the predominantly black neighborhood, but that Amazon wouldn't budge.
“We have been working with Amazon to show them that their current map of Boston leaves a hole right in the heart of the city, but it is clear they are not willing to change their policy,” Walsh’s office wrote. “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.”
City says Amazon "not willing to change their policy" regarding Roxbury same-day delivery exclusion: pic.twitter.com/504mAK20ts— Adam Vaccaro (@adamtvaccaro) April 26, 2016
The decision came after Walsh's statement cycled through Boston media, according to tweets from Joyce Linehan, chief of policy for the mayor's office.
Walsh issued a similar statement on Tuesday afternoon.
"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. I thank Amazon for this decision, and look forward to its implementation," Walsh said.
Amazon called after Mayor issued statement. Mayor spoke to them and they said they'd change policy. Their statement has gone out. #bospoli— Joyce Linehan (@ashmont) April 26, 2016
The outrage blossomed this week afteran analysis from Bloomberguncovered the gap in coverage and showed Roxbury in a graphic as an island of exclusion.
“The most striking gap in Amazon’s same-day service is in Boston,” the report found.
Delivery maps in five other cities also excluded minority neighborhoods, Bloomberg found.
An Amazon spokesman told Metro last week the maps were drawn for the sake of efficiency of its service – the logistics of getting products to doorsteps in just a few hours.
“There are a number of factors that go into determining where we can deliver same-day,” spokesman Scott Stanzel wrote in a statement. “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 p.m. every single day, even Sunday.”
“Demographics play no role in it. Zero,” Craig Berman, the company’s executive vice president for global communications, told Bloomberg.
But many in Boston were not pleased.
“Amazon Prime only follows a long history of that kind of economic boycott of services in certain neighborhoods,” Ed Gaskin, executive director of Roxbury’s Grove Hall Main Streets, told The Bay State Banner.
Boston Globe columnist Dante Ramos called it “plainly unfair.”
City Councilor Tito Jackson called the delivery map “ridiculous” and said he’d explore whether it violated the law on public accommodations. After the reveresal, he tweeted his thanks to the company:
"Thanks to the #Roxbury residents who brought @amazon's delivery practices to light. Thanks too Amazon for reaching out to me & rectifying."
Even U.S. Sen. Ed Markey got involved. Also on Tuesday, he sent a pointed 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.”
Markey tweeted later in the day that Amazon made "the right decision."
The service is available to Amazon Prime customers in 27 metropolitan areas for purchases over $35.