Amazon Is Being Called Out by Prime Members for Quietly Removing Free Whole Foods Deliveries

published Jun 13, 2022
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Woman holding Whole Foods bag filled with groceries while walking down the street
Credit: Joe Lingeman

If you once depended on your Amazon Prime subscription to get free grocery deliveries from Whole Foods, the e-commerce giant may soon owe you some money. That is if two groups of Prime members have their way.

Amazon is currently facing two class-action lawsuits as a result of the cancellation of the free grocery delivery option, which offered Prime members free two-hour delivery on orders over $35. In September, the company told members via email that, moving forward, all grocery orders would be subject to a $9.95 service fee.

The fee previously only applied to orders that didn’t meet the minimum total or for the faster one-hour delivery option, where available.

The first lawsuit, filed in Amazon’s home state of Washington in May by two California residents, claims the new policy is a violation of Washington’s Consumer Protection Act. At issue for this group of plaintiffs is the fact that the grocery delivery was a “key perk” listed as a benefit of the Prime membership. Now that the service is gone, however, Amazon has neither lowered the price of subscriptions, refunded members, or given them an option to easily cancel their subscriptions.

For context, the grocery-delivery service was one of the reasons cited for the membership fee increase that came shortly after Amazon announced free Whole Foods deliveries back in 2018. The fees recently went up again, now costing consumers $139 a year or $14.99 a month — an increase of $20 on the annual subscription and $2 to the monthly price.

“Amazon has engaged in unfair business practices, breached its duty of good faith and deprived Prime members of the benefit of their bargain,” the May lawsuit read.

The newer complaint was filed in California just last week. It suggests that Amazon has continued to lure in new members using the free grocery service. 

“In addition to Amazon’s false representations that Prime members will receive ‘FREE Delivery’ and ‘FREE 2-Hour Grocery Delivery,’ Amazon engages in a bait-and-switch advertising scheme by not disclosing the $9.95 service fee along with the advertised price of the Whole Foods grocery items,” the court documents state. “Amazon’s practice of initially advertising only part of a price and then later revealing the service fee as the consumer completes the buying process has been labeled ‘drip pricing’ by the Federal Trade Commission (‘FTC’). Amazon uses drip pricing to bamboozle consumers using the tried and true classic, and unlawful, bait advertising scheme.”

At current time, Amazon has not issued any statements addressing the lawsuits.

Were you aware of the service change? Do you think it makes your Prime membership less valuable?