Don’t claim Boston if you can’t deliver the neighborhoods

Companies that skip over or offer sub-par service to Dorchester and Mattapan have some explaining — and some soul-searching— to do.

A Reporter review of the blossoming “on-demand” delivery market— mainly driven by consumers using mobile devices— revealed what many in our community already knew from experience: Too many of these brand-name apps are bypassing our neighborhoods, even as they promote themselves as serving “Boston.”

The slight is more than a just a case of Uber-aged companies struggling to keep pace with demand. In most cases, there is a value judgment that has been made to deliberately bypass city neighborhoods seen as too-black, too-low income, too dangerous— pick your pejorative. In our view, it all falls into one category: Discriminatory business practices.

It is true that this pattern is not an innovation of the digital age. And, in some cases, the mobile app revolution has reversed long-standing injustices. Riding sharing apps like Uber, for example, have definitely improved the mobility of people in Dorchester and Mattapan, who were not always well served by the taxi industry. In turn, this competition has aided in making taxi service better.

But sectors of the on-demand market are clearly falling short of what might be considered fair play in our community.

Thatcher Farm in Milton is one example. The dairy company’s online ordering portal includes a pull-down menu for potential customers that includes the South End, Jamaica Plain, Hyde Park, South Boston and Quincy— but not our communities.

When we pressed the company for an explanation, we were assured that Thatcher does in fact have “hundreds” of Dorchester customers. The website slight, they said, would be corrected to reflect that fact.

That was three weeks ago. It has not been fixed. So while many neighbors in Mattapan and Lower Mills, for example, might in fact be able to cajole Thatcher over the phone to service their needs, you’d never know it from their website. And that is not only a major inconvenience. It’s a slap in the face.

Boston Mayor Martin Walsh summed it up nicely when we told him about our review two weeks ago.

“If they’re not delivering here, they’re doing a disservice to the people in those neighborhoods and to their company as well,” said Walsh. “I encourage them to come to our neighborhood. I wouldn’t use these services if they’re not coming to our parts of the city.”

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