business news in context, analysis with attitude

Business Insider has a piece in which its reporter decided to test out Amazon’s “free, two-hour delivery of Whole Foods groceries to members of its paid Prime program,” and “was shocked to find that it wasn't technically free.”

The cost involved was a calculated tip that the Amazon app added to the bill.

“I had assumed — perhaps naively — that there were no extra costs associated with the service, given all the marketing around it as being free,” the reporter writes. “I had also used other services, including delivery through Kroger Clicklist, that don't solicit tips for couriers.

On Amazon Prime Now, the tip for the couriers is optional, and shoppers can choose to change the amount paid up to 48 hours after the delivery.

“I accepted the charge for the tip and finished the order.”

The reporter then went on:

“One of the biggest downsides to ordering groceries online is not being able to pick out your own produce, and sometimes ending up with bruised or damaged items. Everything in this order was in great shape. However, I was disappointed that I couldn't provide instructions for specific items through the app, which would have avoided some minor issues.

“Kroger ClickList and Instacart allow shoppers to make specifications, such as ‘large butternut squash’ or ‘ripe avocado.’ I wanted skinless salmon fillets, but didn't have the option to request that. I needed a large tomato, and ended up getting a small one. These are pretty minor problems, but when you are paying a lot for your groceries and working with recipes that call for specific amounts of ingredients, it can be a frustrating experience not to get what you need.

“I later found out, however, that customers can communicate specifications to their Amazon shopper as soon as they get an alert that the order is in the process of being picked.”
KC's View:
I do think that Amazon might be well advised to not just assign a tip - that strikes me as presumptuous. Maybe they could so what Starbucks or Lyft do … provide the mechanism and the opportunity, but let it be up to the shopper.