- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Amazon has centralized its services for customers receiving government assistance into one new hub the company announced Monday.

The new Amazon Access hub will offer qualifying customers information on paying for groceries with Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program electronic balance transfer (SNAP EBT) cards.

When a customer purchases food at a SNAP-eligible store with an EBT card, the store is reimbursed from a federally subsidized SNAP account.

SNAP EBT customers in every state except Alaska will be able to “use their SNAP funds to order eligible groceries online from Amazon.com, Whole Foods Market, and Amazon Fresh,” with free shipping offered on eligible orders.

These same government-assisted customers will also be eligible for Amazon Prime Access, which offers “all the benefits and perks of a Prime membership for $6.99 a month — more than 50% off the cost of a full-priced membership.”

The benefits of a Prime membership, for both normal and Access customers include free shipping, access to video streaming and discount shopping events like Prime Day.

To get Prime Access, new users will have to upload valid proof of their identity or government assistance documentation.

“Given the tough economic climate with many facing rising costs on essential needs, we want our customers to know about all the accessible offerings available on Amazon, no matter their circumstance,” Nancy Dalton, head of community partnerships for Amazon Access, told CNN Business.

Lower-income consumers are also a portion of the American consumer base that Amazon Prime has not yet fully tapped.

Amazon sees this as a way of growing Prime at a time when it is near saturation in the US, as there are still many lower-income consumers who do not have access to the program,” GlobalData Retail managing director Neil Saunders said to CNN Business.

Amazon‘s efforts to expand its reach among poorer consumers comes as the retail giant is increasingly fending off complaints that its own workers are underpaid and exploited.

Amazon is facing another lawsuit from delivery drivers over work conditions.

A new class-action claim filed in King County Superior Court in the state of Washington on Friday charges that drivers are not compensated for meal and rest breaks missed while on the job, which the plaintiffs say is tantamount to wage theft.

The company settled a similar suit with Seattle-area drivers for $8.2 million in 2020, according to Axios.

Amazon has not yet responded to a request for comment on the suit or the claims made therein.

• Brad Matthews can be reached at bmatthews@washingtontimes.com.

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