Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Delayed Delivery

Not the Globe, those problems have been fixed, but me. 

Took five days to get this to you:

"Amazon decides to offer same-day Roxbury delivery" by Dan Adams Globe Staff  April 26, 2016

On Tuesday, Amazon blinked and Roxbury gained a small measure of economic respect.

The online retailing giant abruptly changed course and announced it will soon offer same-day “Prime” delivery to residents of Roxbury, the only neighborhood in the Boston area excluded from the service.

Amazon had been facing a gathering hurricane of public outrage and political pressure since an analysis published last week by Bloomberg showed Amazon does not provide same-day delivery in just three ZIP codes in Boston, all in Roxbury. The neighborhood is encircled by areas that receive same-day deliveries, prompting residents and politicians to denounce Amazon’s “doughnut-hole” map as unfair and discriminatory — not to mention logistically nonsensical.

On Tuesday, community leaders praised Amazon’s reversal, saying it was an important and highly visible win in a broader fight for economic equality among the city’s neighborhoods. But they remain upset and puzzled that the company carved out predominantly black Roxbury from its delivery zone in the first place, especially since Amazon and other hot tech firms in the “on-demand” space are already under fire for a lack of diversity in their workforces.

“I commend [Amazon] for fixing it,” said Damon Cox, a director at the Boston Foundation who helps lead economic development initiatives in Roxbury. “But you’d think, given all the scrutiny these tech companies are falling under for a lack of empathy and inclusiveness, that they’d be more aware of the optics.”

The episode, Cox added, is “indicative of a larger problem, which is tone-deafness by a lot of these companies. It’s got to change.”

Earlier Tuesday, Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh and US Senator Edward J. Markey had joined residents and business leaders in condemning Amazon’s exclusion of Roxbury; Walsh said Amazon had refused his administration’s initial request to change the practice, leaving “a hole right in the heart of our city.”

Well, I'm sure they could have delivered by drone like in the rest of the world but guys like Markey are holding that up.

In a statement later Tuesday, the mayor said he was pleased with the company’s about-face.

An Amazon spokesman declined to answer questions about the company’s decision and whether it would make similar changes in other cities.

Reporters at Bloomberg found that ZIP codes whose residents are predominantly black had been conspicuously excluded in six of the 27 metropolitan areas where Amazon offers same-day delivery, including Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, and Washington, D.C.

The new $upremaci$m of the 21$t century.

Bloomberg said the “most striking” example of the pattern was in Boston.

That strikes me as being hard to believe given Boston's history as the Cradle of Liberty and melting pot quality.

Last week, Amazon said it considers only logistics and the number of Amazon Prime subscribers in an area before deciding whether to offer same-day delivery there.

The Boston ZIP code with the highest proportion of black residents, in Mattapan, does receive Amazon same-day delivery, as do nearby majority-minority cities such as Chelsea. That suggests Amazon may have drawn its boundaries based on income or the number of Prime subscribers, not race. 

Welcome to the cla$$!

Still, community leaders and Roxbury residents said Amazon’s cold, data-driven approach could be used to justify any number of practices that, taken together, would perpetuate existing inequalities. Many saw Roxbury’s exclusion from same-day delivery as just the latest example of the second-class services they often receive from businesses.

“The consensus on the streets was, this was not well thought-out. A lot of folks felt slighted,” Cox said. “You’re dealing with communities that, historically, have been overlooked anyway.”

I suppose you get used to being ignored. I know I have.

Former state treasurer Steven Grossman, now chief executive of the Roxbury nonprofit Initiative for a Competitive Inner City, said that Amazon’s data and algorithms may not reflect a recent surge of development in the neighborhood. He also said the company overlooked the economic potential of urban neighborhoods with low income levels but high density. 

How is the pay over at the nonprofit(?)?

“Inner cities have their own competitive advantages,” Grossman said. “There’s enormous aggregate purchasing power in Roxbury because of the density. If Amazon plays its cards right, it can make a lot of money doing business there.” 

Either slighted or exploited, great choice.

Grossman added that Amazon’s retreat is a cautionary tale for other companies that avoid doing business in certain neighborhoods. He noted that backlash came not just from within Roxbury, but also from other customers who weren’t affected but objected nonetheless.

“The combination of voices that have arisen in a virtually unanimous chorus got the attention of the company’s leadership,” he said. “It goes to show that no matter how big and powerful you are, sometimes you have to acknowledge a mistake, show a little humility, and change your practices.”

Unless you are the government of Israel.


So what is the excu$e?

"Why doesn’t Amazon offer same-day delivery in Roxbury?" by Dan Adams, Meghan E. Irons and Megan Woolhouse Globe Staff  April 21, 2016

Eleven months after its debut, Amazon’s same-day delivery service is available to nearly everyone in Greater Boston — everyone, that is, except for residents of three ZIP codes in predominantly black Roxbury.

The service, available around Boston and in 26 other metropolitan areas, allows a customer with a $99-a-year Amazon Prime subscription to buy an item from the online retailer’s vast catalog in the morning and have it dropped on the doorstep by evening. But an analysis by Bloomberg found Amazon’s same-day delivery zones in Boston and several other cities conspicuously don’t include certain minority neighborhoods.

The most striking example was Roxbury, a tiny island of exclusion surrounded by a sea of same-day delivery that extends even to distant suburbs near the New Hampshire border.

They should call themselves little Israel and declare a quarter of their own!

Roxbury residents on Thursday expressed dismay, but not shock. They said Amazon’s decision to leave the neighborhood out is just another example of the second-class services they’ve come to expect from government and businesses.

Soon we will all be Palestinian.

“I’m not surprised,” said Shanita Jefferson, a 28-year-old resident of the Roxbury section of Grove Hall. “There are a lot of things that we don’t get in Roxbury and Dorchester that other communities get.”

No outrage yet?

“If we are paying the same amount for the same products then we should get the same service,’’ she added.

While there’s no indication Amazon excluded Roxbury specifically because of its racial makeup — some suggested income was the deciding factor — local officials and business leaders were angered by the report.


That's why it gets front page coverage, and it couldn't come at a better time for the guy!

Righteous anger, not that stuff from icky voters.

Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh said his office had reached out to Inc. and urged the Seattle company to “rectify this issue as quickly as possible.”

“I was disheartened to hear the report of Amazon excluding certain neighborhoods from the company’s same-day delivery program,” Walsh said in a statement. “All of our neighborhoods should be treated equally.”

An Amazon executive told Bloomberg that Roxbury was “an anomaly.” In a separate statement to the Globe, the company defended its practices, saying it considers customer data and delivery logistics, not demographics, when deciding where to launch same-day delivery service.

Are you just damn tired of the excuses like me, or.... ?????

“There are a number of factors that go into determining where we can deliver same-day,” an Amazon spokesman wrote. “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.”

Also the fact that the BPD doesn't even like to go in there because of the drug and gang violence.

I wonder what is going to happen when some Amazon drivers turn up dead, either from robbery or crossfire.

He added that Amazon would continue expanding same-day service to other ZIP codes, but did not respond to questions about when or whether Roxbury would be added to the list. Meanwhile, the company is rumored to be gearing up for even faster one-hour deliveries around Boston by leasing a warehouse in Everett.

Amazon’s same-day delivery service does cover other neighborhoods with large minority populations, including parts of Mattapan, Dorchester, and East Boston. It also extends to majority-minority municipalities such as Chelsea and Lawrence.

A Globe analysis of Census Bureau data found that the three ZIP codes excluded from same-day delivery by Amazon are among the poorest in Boston. 

It comes with the "job." 

Each has a median household income below $33,000, compared with $54,485 for all of Boston. All three have more nonwhite residents than white residents.

However, the ZIP code with the highest proportion of black residents, in Mattapan, is include in the delivery zone. What unites the excluded areas, it appears, are low income levels. 

It's like the red-lining they used to do selling homeowners insurance.

The authors of the Bloomberg report noted that while launching the service in areas with the most subscribers is perfectly logical, “a solely data-driven calculation that looks at numbers instead of people can reinforce long-entrenched inequality in access to retail services.”

Former state treasurer Steven Grossman, now chief executive of the Roxbury nonprofit Initiative for a Competitive Inner City, said there’s no defending companies that crop out low-income areas. He called on residents to petition Amazon.

“Perhaps [Amazon] can find short-term justification in their own minds, but not mine,” Grossman said. “It’s insensitive, unjust, and unwise.”

He is a piece of work.

But other business leaders stood by Amazon, saying the company is simply acting according to financial realities.

And they don't want to be the next company that has accusations or lawsuits hurled at them.

“There’s also not a Neiman Marcus store [in Roxbury]. There’s not a Mass. General [Hospital]. There’s no Newbury Comics in that neighborhood,” said Mike Dreese, chief executive of Newbury Comics Inc., which sells clothing through Amazon. “The economics of delivery are pretty brutal, so if you don’t have a density, it’s not economical.” 

So is the truth of life.

Amazon is not alone in carving out Boston neighborhoods from its delivery zone. A review in January by the Dorchester Reporter found that many trendy, on-demand companies offering convenient delivery of food and other services — including Caviar, Drizly, Favor, Instacart, and Postmates — don’t serve parts of Dorchester and Mattapan.

Please, can we just focus on Amazon; otherwise, the whole $tructure is going to collap$e.

Across the harbor in East Boston, similar companies have distributed fliers seeking delivery drivers, even though they don’t deliver to customers in the neighborhood.

When Google launched its same-day service, dubbed Google Express in 2014, the initial delivery zone included Roxbury but cut out much of Dorchester. The company has since expanded its delivery area to cover nearly all of Boston besides Logan Airport.

Intentionally discriminatory practices such as red-lining — an array of racist policies by banks and other institutions in the 20th century that crippled economic development in minority urban neighborhoods — are largely outlawed today. But troubling disparities between Boston’s neighborhoods persist. 

Too bad usury, price-gouging, and looting hasn't been (or isn't enforced when you are too big to you know.....).

Residents in parts of the city with large minority populations pay more rent relative to their incomes and face longer commutes to work than residents of other areas, for example. Community advocates in Boston have also decried so-called food deserts, or neighborhoods where it’s nearly impossible to find affordable, healthy groceries.

That's true anywhere you go.

And minority entrepreneurs in Roxbury say they lack equal access to startup accelerators and venture capital.

In that context, residents said, it’s hard for them not to see Amazon’s exclusion of Roxbury as part of a pattern....

I know how they feel.


That's all I'm delivering today. Sorry.

UPDATE: Amazon liable for charging parents for kids’ app purchases

Also see:

AmazonFresh grocery delivery launches in Boston

Amazon Prime strikes deal for most PBS children’s shows

Amazon’s Audible goes long on short-term audio