business news in context, analysis with attitude

With brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

•  GeekWire reports that "a proposed class action lawsuit alleges that Amazon breached its contract with Prime members last year when it stopped offering free two-hour delivery on Whole Foods purchases of $35 or more.

"The case, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Seattle, names as plaintiffs two California residents who say the Whole Foods delivery benefit was a major motivation for signing up as Prime members.

"Amazon, which acquired the grocery chain for $13.7 billion in August 2017, started rolling out free Whole Foods grocery delivery for Prime members in February 2018, before implementing a $9.95 surcharge in September 2021.

"The surcharge came after demand for grocery delivery soared during the pandemic. The economics of grocery delivery are notoriously difficult, and Amazon has made regular changes in its Amazon Fresh delivery fees and business models over the years in an attempt to create a viable business."

“Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Amazon Prime members paid for a membership because they wanted to take advantage of Prime’s free Whole Foods delivery service,” the suit says in part. “As a result of Amazon’s unfair business practices, consumers paid $119 for a service that was unfairly terminated.”

Might've been easier, not to say with fewer legal bills, to just cancel Amazon Prime service.  Hard to imagine that Amazon doesn't have a legal loophole that allows it to change the rules when it wants to.

•  From CNBC:

The US House of Representatives Oversight Committee is charging that Amazon is "obstructing" its probe into a deadly warehouse collapse caused by a tornado last December in Illinois by "refusing to produce key documents related to its internal review of the tragic incident, which killed six workers."

According to the story, "In a Wednesday letter addressed to Amazon CEO Andy Jassy, the Oversight Committee’s chairwoman, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., and Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Cori Bush, D-Mo., said the company has 'failed to produce' key documents requested by lawmakers … The House Oversight Committee in April opened a probe into Amazon’s labor practices and is specifically zeroing in on its handling of the warehouse collapse. Lawmakers gave Amazon until April 14 to respond to its inquiry and produce the requested documents. The committee is seeking communications between Amazon managers and employees at the Edwardsville, Illinois, facility, among other things."

If Amazon does not produce the documents, lawmakers say, the next step could be a subpoena and open hearings.