PrimeNowShopping just became more convenient in the Raleigh area, as the online retailer Amazon made it the 25th city in the country with a local warehouse and “free” two-hour delivery for “Prime” members (who pay $99 per year) within a range of zip codes (or one-hour delivery for $7.99), including ours.

On a wet and sloppy day, then, I don’t have to confront the time and inconvenience of driving to the store and walking through the rain. I can order razor blades or household items or electronic gadgets right from the handy “PrimeNow” app, then go about my work while someone else does the picking and driving and delivers my stuff to the door within two hours. Right?

PrimeNowAppNot exactly. Not all items are available, as expected, and minimum orders are required, depending on one’s zip code ($20 for me, which is not unreasonable). And, two-hour delivery? Well, maybe sometimes: I decided to test the system by ordering a few items from the new app. I placed the order at 1:00 p.m., and was offered the option of delivery between 6:00 and 8:00 p.m. or 8:00 and 10:00 p.m. Earlier delivery windows were marked “unavailable.” Perhaps that’s a start-up glitch: we’ll see as time goes on.

Another surprise showed up when the final price was tallied: the retailer added a suggested tip of $5.00 to my $40 order, which suggests that the drivers, like the staff at restaurants, aren’t being paid enough. We wouldn’t normally think of tipping UPS, FedEx, or USPS drivers, but I don’t begrudge a tip for someone who’s probably working part-time to pick up some extra (and probably much-needed) income.

Even so, the whole deal reminds me of how loosely we use language. The advertised “Free two-hour delivery” is neither free nor necessarily within two hours.

A lack of truth in advertising is not limited to Amazon or other businesses, however. Have you ever visited a church that had a sign saying “Everyone Welcome,” and discovered that it really meant “Everyone like us”?

The same question applies to our own lives, of course. By definition, those who claim to be Christians (including politicians) should be compassionate and generous people. Do we deliver?

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