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Amazon's same-day delivery map is pretty black and white

Bloomberg analyzes where Amazon now offers same-day deliver in major cities. Scroll down the story a bit to see the Boston map:

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

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"Amazon says its plan is to focus its same-day service on ZIP codes where there’s a high concentration of Prime members, and then expand the offering to fill in the gaps over time."

That's a pretty poor excuse when you're in all the ZIP codes around one that has a lower concentration of Prime members. I mean, at that point you're driving through it to get to other areas you serve, but not stopping. Not a good look.

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Dorchester is majority black, Eastie is majority hispanic, and Jamaica Plain and Roslindale are majority minority, to name just a few other neighborhoods that get one day Amazon delivery. Perhaps Amazon didn't get the anti-social justice memo regarding these neighborhoods?

One might consider the possibility that there is nothing at all nefarious or evil going on, and it's entirely a business decision.

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Yes, other majority black places are getting the delivery service. It doesn't change the fact that not serving a majority black area fully in the middle of everywhere else they deliver to is sketchy.

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Even if you take race out of the equation it's kind of silly to exclude a single neighborhood (well, Roxbury plus Mission Hill). If they can deliver to Jamaica Plain in 24 hours, they should be able to deliver to Roxbury just fine. Traffic in Dudley Square can get a bit crowded sometimes, but it's not that bad. And acknowledging race, doing things on a neighborhood by neighborhood basis is more prone to cause these sorts of disparate impact situations to occur, since Boston is by no means unique in having more black people live in some neighborhoods and more white people live in other neighborhoods, with other statistical factors correlating with those differences. I mean you don't need to do it on a city by city basis either, (lord knows there's segregation on that scale too) but having an enclave of non-service in the middle of a dense city is just silly.

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I'm guessing some wonk in CA (or computer in an anonymous windowless room) that doesn't know Roxbury from West Roxbury figured this out. Did a consulting project a while back and a killer for the delivery biz is the downtime from point to point -ESPECIALLY residential addresses where people may or may not be home. May seem trivial because you are "driving through" (big assumption) - but then think about making a handful of deliveries in those zips v. dozens in another. Add in a parking ticket or two - and it's a money losing proposition.

Certainly bad optics - but I'm guessing the computer program that dictates their logistics doesn't factor that in.

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Because that non-contiguous (by land) part of Boston was somehow included whilst the Roxbury sections were not. That suggests that there are more MWRA workers getting Prime deliveries at their work post (I don't believe there's any housing out there) than there are Roxbury residents and workers getting Prime deliveries at their places of abode/work.

Yikes.

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You sure that has nothing to do with the fact that Deer Island shares a zipcode with Winthrop, and the writers of the article weren't in the business of drawing arbitrary lines on the map?

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It's especially odd that only those Roxbury zipcodes are excluded for the entire metro area, even as Mattapan, Lawrence, Chelsea, Everett, Wilmington, and Tewksbury are all included - places that are also either somewhat economically depressed (at least comparable to Roxbury) or much less densely-populated. You would assume the number of Prime subscribers per sq mile would not be very high there either. And a lot of the places included in their map are heavily minority-populated.

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I'm in an eligible zip, yet I've never seen anything available for same day delivery. I wonder if all the eligible zips are really eligible.

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Iive in Dorchester minority neighborhood, I am a Prime member and I often see same day items offered to me.

And for the record I had more problems with deliveries from any company using any of the delivery services in Cambridge than in Dorchester. Including more theft. Offering same day service to areas with high concentrations of Prime members ( including now fix it and assembly services) makes perfect business sense.

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It's a self-fulfilling thing. I live in Roxbury and was a Prime member, but couldn't get same day delivery. I dropped my Prime membership because it wasn't worth it. So now there are fewer Prime members in Roxbury which "justifies" their decision to exclude it.

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I doubt Amazon is doing this to be purposefully exclusionary.

I currently live in a similar "hole" in my current town: all of the zip codes around me get Same-Day Prime, I do not. All of the zip codes around me are equally or less affluent than my zip code. I am surrounded on 3 sides with Same-Day Prime, and I would only have to walk 3 blocks north, south, or east to find an address that receives Same Day Prime.

Unfortunately, though, I live in an irregularly shaped zip code service area, where I'm in a tiny "tab" that sticks off another slightly larger jutt-out, off of a large sprawling zip code that covers mostly hard-to-access winding hillside roads. This means that I'm ineligible for this and other services assigned by zip code...even though I can *walk* into the designated service areas, because I'm in the flat "downtown" section of said zip code.

Amazon has a process by which you can request your area be included in their program: I occasionally send them a note saying, "Hey, the section of X bordered by Y and Z streets isn't in yet, can you fix that?" and get a generic "Thank you for your feedback, we'll think about it!" in reply.

That said, I seldom have a situation where I can't wait two days for an item that I also cannot obtain in a nearby store. It's not like it's Amazon Prime Only Place You Can Buy Toilet Paper.

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I'm not a fan of Amazon same-day shipping. Two reasons:

1. I've observed the white Amazon vans to be particularly disinterested in obeying moving and parking laws, and
2. How many trucks need to drive by my house once a day? USPS, UPS, FedEX. Now more? Competition helps drive efficiency, but at some point all these trucks are jamming up traffic, double parking, and otherwise being a nuisance (see 1).

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1. I've observed the white Amazon vans to be particularly disinterested in obeying moving and parking laws, and

White Amazon vans? I've always thought Amazon crowdsourced their SDD's as they do with some of their normal deliveries. I haven't used same day yet but most of my smaller packages get delivered by a company called Lasership which runs on an Uber type business model that contracts people to make deliveries using their personal vehicles.

2. How many trucks need to drive by my house once a day? USPS, UPS, FedEX. Now more? Competition helps drive efficiency, but at some point all these trucks are jamming up traffic, double parking, and otherwise being a nuisance (see 1).

See my response above.

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there are white amazon vans. they are usually those big Sprinter vans. there's a weird unsubstantiated internet meme going around (mainly on here and /r/boston) that they drive worse than ups/fedex/whatever.

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Yep, I've seen these too. Weirdly enough, in Roxbury. Multiple times.

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I don't think that all packages delivered in the white Amazon vans are same-day, or even two-day shipping. I've even had Sunday deliveries for things that I selected 'no-rush shipping' for (and I'm so sorry about that, Mr. Delivery Man who delivered socks on Easter).

They're probably using whatever is logistically the fastest/cheapest for each package. Logistics!

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The Boston and DC maps really are striking.

I get NYC - Amazon is delivering from New Jersey, so the Bronx and Outer Queens are simply further away. They probably just put in a formula like if its more than 2 hours away from the warehouse in traffic it doesnt get included. Conversely, thats why Fresno has such a huge area - no traffic.

But having a hole, as in Roxbury makes no sense. The arbitrary straight line in DC which is a pretty good striking image of racial borders is also alarming.

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In the grand tradition of slashdot, RTFA.

Amazon’s Berman calls Roxbury “an anomaly.”

Basicly thats corp speak for "umm wtf I have no idea"

It doesn't follow the pattern of any of the other "exclusions" which seem to be primarily based around Directions from the warehouse and driving times, at least to a degree.

I think that hopefully this will lead someone "fixing the anomaly"

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If you look at the population density maps further down the page
there is a definite "population bias" -ahem- (bulls#!t) going on.

Boston and New York actually are less biased than the other cities.

But, we never will really address what the data shows us.

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it really does look like traffic flow puts that hole there more than anything else. Like if they're delivering from three sides, but not from the center. I'm pretty sure that hole would be there no matter who lived there unless 1) they were all fabulously wealthy AND 2) there were better roads into an out of there, not just a couple of half-aborted highways and small streets with antisynchronous traffic lights.

How about that: blaming lower quality of life on shitty infrastructure instead of diverting the blame to anything else.

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Very odd to see Roxbury excluded, especially since it is literally surrounded by zipcodes that are serviced. I read the story and looked at the other maps and some of them looked like they made sense and had rather definitive boundaries. I can understand the computer making that mistake but I find it incredibly odd that nobody at Amazon HQ looked at a map with a literal hole in it and thought that maybe they should look into it deeper?

I had no clue we had one day shipping in Chelsea. Normally we are just excluded from things like this at first so I assumed we would also not be on the list. I only use Amazon for hard to find purchases , which tend not to be stocked at local warehouses anyway. So I most likely will not be using the one day shipping anytime soon.

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