Amazon recently announced that Americans who receive assistance from the government could soon receive a bit from Amazon, as well. The mega e-commerce site announced that it will provide a monthly Prime membership discount to customers who have an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card.
The Consumerist reports that the Amazon Prime Membership Discount revealed on Tuesday, would reduce the monthly membership cost from $10.99/month to $5.99/month.
“We designed this membership option for customers receiving government assistance to make our everyday selection and savings more accessible, including the many conveniences and entertainment benefits of Prime,” Greg Greeley, Vice President of Amazon Prime, said in a statement.
Through the new discount program, users will receive the same Prime benefits as those who pay the full price for the service, such as free two-day or two-hour shipping on millions of products, as well as access to video music, photo storage and select free e-books.
Customers who have a valid EBT card — which is used to disburse funds for government assistance programs including Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and Women, Infants, and Children Nutrition Program (WIC) — can qualify for the discount every year for up to four years. The EBT cards can not be used to pay for the service.
Amazon says it plans to add other ways for customers to qualify for the discount in the future.
As with Amazon’s traditional Prime membership, those who enroll with the discount can cancel at any time.
The new Prime discount comes several months after Amazon said it would begin tests in which it accepted EBT funds for some food deliveries. The first tests of online SNAP payments were to occur later this year in New York, New Jersey, and Maryland.
Why the Amazon Prime Membership Discount is interesting…
Historically, lower income people spend a large chunk of their income at Walmart. This is shown through the amount of SNAP dollars (18% of the nationwide total) spent at the retailer. Now, Amazon wants to get in on the action as well.
Will this start a low-cost retail/e-commerce war?
Well, possibly. Since its birth, Amazon was going after the millennial generation who preferred the comfort of their own living rooms than to drive over to the suburbs to shop. Who wants to schlepp bags up an eight flight walk up, anyway, right? But to begin preying on a lesser privileged demographic may cause problems in the not so distant future. Of course, there is a capitalistic business to be had, however, there is a thin line between being self-dignified and self-righteous.