Amazon is dropping one of its perks from Amazon Prime memberships, and it will come as a big disappointment for subscribers who enjoy Whole Foods delivery. This week, Amazon began charging a $9.95 delivery fee for Whole Foods orders to be delivered within two hours. This service was previously free with any Amazon Prime subscription, which costs $119 annually or $12.99 per month.
Although the new fee kicked in this week, Amazon warned subscribers it was coming last month in an email. The extra fee is meant to cover operating costs like equipment and technology without raising prices of the groceries themselves, a Whole Foods spokesperson told CNN Business. The new fee was put into place in six markets over the summer - Boston; Detroit; Chicago; Portland, Maine; Providence, Rhode Island; and Manchester, New Hampshire - before going national. One-hour delivery will cost another extra fee.
The perk has been part of Amazon Prime subscriptions since 2018, the year after Amazon acquired Whole Foods. Other Whole Foods perks like free one-hour pickup at store locations will still be in place for Prime members. The fee will also not affect orders through Amazon Fresh.
Before the Whole Foods fee went into effect, Walmart jumped at the opportunity to provide something Amazon couldn't. Last week, Walmart told Walmart+ subscribers they would get $9.95 back, reports CNN Business. "Because customers deserve a grocery delivery service that won't leave a Whole in their wallet for delivery fees - whoops, typo," Walmart's email read. Walmart+ offers similar perks like Amazon Prime, including free shipping with no order minimum. It costs $98 annually and $12.95 per month.
The new Whole Foods fee comes as Americans begin feeling the pinch of high grocery costs over a year into the coronavirus pandemic. Grocery prices jumped 3% from 2020, according to the Consumer Price index. Restaurant prices also climbed 4.7% over the past year. The costs of buying groceries online also climbed 1.64% in August compared to August 2020, according to the Adobe Digital Economy Index's analysis. Overall online costs climbed 3.1% over that period.
Amazon Prime customers can find other ways to save money at Whole Foods. In addition to the free one-hour pickup windows, blue tags in stores mean there are sales exclusive for Prime members on particular items, notes CNet. Yellow tags mean a Prime customer gets an additional 10% off on an item already on sale. The Whole Foods Market app can also be used at checkout to get additional exclusive Prime deals.