Amazon Is Killing One of the Last Feel-Good Things It Did

Amazon Smile is about to end

Amazon logo
If you used Amazon's Smile might not be doing so for much longer.
Idrees Abbas/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

There are plenty of reasons to be cynical about Amazon — its penchant for treating employees as disposable, its abrupt closure of its venture into physical bookstores and the whole “delivery drivers having to pee in bottles” thing all come to a mind. For a time, there was one thing Amazon did that seemed like a net positive to even the most cynical observer of the retail giant: its Amazon Smile program, in which a small percentage of a shopper’s purchases on Amazon would be donated to a nonprofit of their choice.

It’s one of the handful of things Amazon has done that even people who dislike Amazon could grudgingly admire. Which makes the news that Amazon is bringing the program to an end feel that much more egregious.

Amazon’s announcement of the end of the program stated that it “has not grown to create the impact that we had originally hoped.” The program will end on February 20, according to an article in The Verge.

Amazon went on to imply that it wasn’t providing enough money to the nonprofits involved. “With so many eligible organizations — more than 1 million globally — our ability to have an impact was often spread too thin,” the announcement continued.

What that means in real-world terms is unknown, however — and what’s a pittance for Amazon might well be a significant financial boost to a small organization.

Writing at The Verge, Barbara Krasanoff called out Amazon’s “lack of transparency in the email itself” — and took aim at the company suggesting that nonprofits could pivot from Smile to setting up their own wish lists. In other words, rather than Amazon routing donations to nonprofits, their replacement for this would be a place where people could just buy things for those organizations via Amazon. Clearly a sacrifice for the public good.

Will the end of Smile cause Amazon to lose any customers? The sad thing is, the answer is, “probably not.” Which may well be why they’re doing this to begin with.

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