Amazon Go, the company’s new Seattle-based automated convenience store that opened up to the public on Monday, allows customers to zoom on in, grab whatever their hearts desire, and get out, all without having to deal with a checkout line or a human manning the register.
It’s the latest innovation in convenience from the logistics giant—unless, as Slate reporter April Glaser reported today, you shop for your groceries with food stamps.
Amazon Go’s setup was never very class-friendly to begin with. Entering the store requires owning a smartphone with the Amazon Go app, which automatically charges people for the goods they take out of the door. Plus, there is the resounding uncertainty about how this type of automation will affect the millions of Americans who making their livelihoods working retail jobs.
The fact that Amazon Go doesn’t accept food stamps only further hammers the idea that the store is geared towards a certain class of people. That is, not the 1,011,000 Washingtonians—or one in seven—who used food stamps to help feed their families in 2016.
Amazon is currently participating in a USDA pilot program to accept food stamps from customers in a few states. It has also offered discounted Prime memberships for food stamp recipients, but SNAP funds still can’t be used to pay for Prime membership or delivery charges. According to the Los Angeles Times, there is no discount for Amazon’s grocery delivery service, AmazonFresh.
Over the past few years, the city of Seattle has seen a dramatic rise in income inequality, now rivaling San Francisco, with the top 20% of households taking in more than half of the city’s total income in 2016. Amazon’s new store might look like a shining beacon of the future, but it’s also a reminder that under techno-capitalism, that future is only reserved for the rich.
I’ve reached to Amazon and will update if and when they respond.