NEW YORK (VNnews/Sandy Eller) – A policy change that requires participants in a select Amazon program to provide two day shipping six days a week has left Orthodox Jewish vendors in the lurch.
Late last summer Amazon announced that, as of February 1st, members of its Seller Fulfillment Prime program, which allows vendors to fill Prime orders directly from their own warehouses, would have to ship products on Saturdays. Amazon told VIN News that after receiving complaints from members of the SLP program, it agreed to allow Sunday deliveries as well, but even that posed problems, according to the Washington Free Beacon (https://bit.ly/3uhw3i8), which reported that major shipping carriers don’t offer Sunday pickups and smaller services that do cannot guarantee the two day turnaround required by Amazon Prime.
An Amazon spokesperson contacted VIN News to dispute that claim, saying that some sellers have been able to make special arrangements for Sunday pickups, albeit for an additional charge.
According to the Washington Free Beacon, attempts by Jewish sellers to discuss the problem with Amazon have yielded no further results, with the company insisting that sellers had sufficient time to prepare for the new policy, which would provide customers with faster delivery from sellers who warehouse their own merchandise. While a company spokesperson said that Amazon had created a dedicated support team to help sellers adjust to the change, multiple sellers told Washington Free Beacon that email requests for assistance had gone unanswered.
A February 1st letter written to Amazon General Counsel David Zapolsky by StandWithUs, a nonprofit Israeli education organization, noted that Orthodox Jews comprise approximately 15 percent of Amazon marketplace sellers and that it was impossible for those enrolled in the Seller Fulfilled Prime program to comply with the new regulations. StandWithUs asked Amazon to allow Sabbath observant participants in Seller Fulfillment Prime to turn off their Prime membership badge over Shabbos, something that the company allows in case of inclement weather, but Amazon has reportedly insisted that the program’s regulations will stand as is and that those who toggle off their Prime status on a weekly basis will lose their status as Seller Fulfilled Prime members.
Amazon sellers do have the option of using the company’s fulfillment and storage services which would exempt them from weekend shipping, but they would have to pay for the service, with costs varying by package size and shipping seasons. The company also offers a Merchant Fulfillment Network which does not require weekend shipping and allows sellers to warehouse their own goods, but isn’t compatible with Prime status.
One Jewish Amazon jewelry seller who asked only to be identified as Herman said that not being able to ship from his company’s warehouse would likely force him to downsize his business because of the higher cost of using Amazon’s fulfillment services.
“We are just looking for a little understanding on something that is so important for us and so pointless for them to refuse,” said Herman.
While Seller Fulfilled Prime members in the United Kingdom had been concerned about the policy change, their fears proved to be unfounded. A December 22nd Facebook post by Jewish Telegraph quoted an Amazon spokesperson who said that sellers in the United Kingdom would not be required to offer Saturday or Sunday pickups.