An angry reader gets unwanted religious literature in an Amazon order

February 25, 2015 • 12:45 pm
Reader Laurie Sindoni, who is half the staff of Theo, the Espresso-Drinking Cat, sent me the email given below. She ordered some athletic clothing from a company in Germany (!) that, it seems, is the German equivalent of Chik fil A (“Hate on a Bun”). Laurie was affronted with what she received, and here is what she said:
I must share this with you because I am so angry, and if ever ANYONE needed a copy of WEIT and body parts through the post, and Theo’s coffee thrown in their faces, it’s these people!  And because I know you will empathise with me.
I ordered a pair of Nike shorts from Amazon [UK] to wear over leggings for training.  Quite straightforward; right?  My order was delivered and the shorts were fine; however, they included THIS with my order!

What the fluff?  It’s not like I ordered a bible. Or identified myself as a member of “Weight Lifters for Jesus.” I launched myself onto Amazon and sent feedback to the seller.

“Shame on you.  I ordered shorts to be worn over leggings for training and these are fine. What was NOT fine was the ‘complimentary’ literature: Christian Creationist proselytising!!! Why on earth, when I ordered training clothes, did you feel the need to ram your superstitions down the throat of a complete stranger?  I hope Amazon will, in future, prevent sellers from arbitrarily including unrelated, unsolicited and offensive material with orders.”

I then contacted Amazon and apprised them of the situation.  I was furious; but, I told them that under no circumstances do I blame Amazon for this offensive communication.  I insisted that they contact the seller regarding the impropriety of the order content.  I expressed disquiet that in having ordered from these people, I may have become an unwitting donor to a BS and fantasist organisation.  I also pointed out that there is no difference between this and receiving unsolicited jihadist material through the post.  Furthermore, the fact that I am an atheist is irrelevant because I may have been a Sikh, a Jew, a Jain, etc.  The point is that there was no guarantee their customer was a Creationist Christian living in a world of make believe.

This morning, I received an email from the seller.  Hold onto your potatoes!

“You’ll Jesus face. As a judge or as a saviour that you can choose now. It is well meant by me.  Thank you.” Oh, and [sic, sic, sic!]!

So, before heading to my back garden to dig up body parts to send, I launched myself back at Amazon. I know when the Customer Service Agent, reading through the communication, got to that reply, because he audibly gasped. I am now demanding a full refund because I am concerned about having been donating to some organisation that promotes fantasy as well as a written apology, for what I consider harassment.

Here is what Amazon said in response:

“We’ve been contacted by one of our mutual customers regarding an order placed with you.  This customer placed an order with yourselves. Upon receiving the goods the customer advises that they were also given an amount of religious literature. This is not acceptable.  Further to this the response that was given by yourselves was wholly inappropriate.  Due to this very poor experience the customer would like an apology and to be refunded for this order.  Please advise the customer as to how this can be done.  I hope you understand that the customer feels that this is harassment and from Amazon point of view, this is very much unacceptable. We hope you’re able to work this out with this customer.”

To me, it is utterly fantastic that commercial transactions can be so easily infused with religious nonsense.  And even more so that there are large segments of the population that will consider this to be ordinary behaviour.  And even acceptable. Some may go so far as to say I have overreacted in having taken offense and action. [JAC: Not I!]

OK; my rant is over.  At least until I receive another inappropriate communiqué in response to the Amazon email.

Laurie added that the company did respond:
They got back.  They said the following, “hello.  Thanks for your message.
Here are the links that Laurie sent; the company you want to avoid if you hate this proselytizing is Hoppe Schuhe in Dainrode, Germany.

69 thoughts on “An angry reader gets unwanted religious literature in an Amazon order

  1. I also have received a piece of Christian literature with a book I ordered once. I gave the seller a bad rating, describing the unsolicited propaganda, & the seller accused me of violating his First Amendment rights. So, the seller isn’t a legal expert apparently… or someone who understands the First Amendment at all.

    1. I was astonished that they didn’t just put her on ‘hold’ after

      but, I told them that under no circumstances do I blame Amazon for this offensive communication.

      If I’d been in the circumstance, I’d have been hitting the credit card company after a couple of hours (a “reasonable time” for the issue to be resolved), to rescind the transaction in it’s entirety. Apparently getting too many charge-backs on your account like that can lose you your credit-card billing system pretty rapidly if you’re in business. And the purpose of the rant is to deliver damage to this business, isn’t it? (A perfectly reasonable rant, well delivered.)

  2. Amazon is good about customer service.I ordered something idin’t get it contacted them and i recieved it the next day.So i know amazon will look into the problem.Hate to get junk mail and what you got sounds like that. Might get a bit of fun if you burn it and not just throw it away.

    1. Looks to me like it was run through Google translate or something like that. In German it makes sense (grammatically anyway). In English, not so much.

  3. Reading the negative and neutral reviews on their Ebay store. They have annoyed a few other people with the same junk.

  4. I would guess some freak christian employee probably slipped it into the order. I’ve witnessed (at least three times at my local bookstore) a christian person randomly inserting religious cards into books in the new age/occult section. They were confronted by the store manager and asked to leave the store. Perusing an occult book myself, I was approached once by two high school girls asking me to put away the book and read the bible. I just joked with them. I’m still flabbergasted at how Gideon’s bibles get into virtually every hotel room in America. It’s the creepiest large-scale conspiracy that there is clear physical proof of and nobody talks about it. I try to collect all the different colored bibles. I have found a few Book of Mormon’s in some hotels, usually alongside the Gideon tome.

    1. I wonder if there is an … ‘alternative’ to the bible that one could put in the drawer next to the bible in a motel room. Nothing bad, mind you, just to provide an opposing viewpoint.

    2. A number of years ago, my wife and I caught a couple of (apparently) Christian teens in the Harold Washington library in Chicago who were hiding occult books behind books in other parts of the stacks. We frog-marched them to a security officer, described their offense, and suggested that they be either charged with something or be made to recover all the hidden books. We were accused of doing Satan’s work, to which I replied, “The pay and benefits are better and I don’t have to act like an asshole.”

      1. I always make a point to take home and recycle any Jehovah’s Witness literature that I find on bus benches- just doing my little part!

  5. Personally, I think it’d be kind of fascinating to get this junk with something I bought online. Makes for an entertaining water cooler story, anyway.

    They are totally out of line in doing it, of course. Extremely presumptuous to assume that people buying your wares on Amazon could possibly want your evangelical pamphlets.

    If they do it often, the correct response from Amazon might be to refuse to let this company sell through them.

    1. You just arrived at the remedy with that last statement. Amazon could easily stop this and prevent it by telling the vendor…no more. Do it again and you are out. Amazon is big and the vendors will comply. It’s this way at Walmart as well. If Walmart says jump, the vendors only ask – how high.

  6. I think the person way overreacted. I understand being annoyed, and that merited a one-star rating and a complaint to customer service, but it’s nothing to get worked up about.

    1. I will add that getting angry likely increases their satisfaction that they’re doing God’s work. Martyr syndrome and all that. Amusement is a better reaction, but that’s more difficult to express electronically.

    2. How Laurie felt about this is, I think, none of your business; some people get much more offended about this stuff than others. What’s important is that she REACTED appropriately, calling out the company for religious proselytizing, and the appropriate steps appear to have been taken by Amazon. Why do you care about her degree of anger?

      1. “Why do you care about her degree of anger?”

        Because it makes her look non-rational. That embarrasses me and reflects poorly on non-believers.

        1. Her being honest about her emotions and being rational in her reaction hardly makes her look non-rational to me. But I think I was about a 2/10 angry-wise when I saw their response to her, so color me non-rational too!

  7. Wow.

    I’ve ordered a lot of stuff from Amazon over the years, and the most I’ve ever gotten stuffed in with the box is a catalog or brochure or similar materials from the same merchant. As often as not any more, I don’t even get a printed invoice with the package.

    I’d be pretty damned pissed, too, if I got a Chick Tract with a box of Ziploc bags….


    1. Difference here, so far as I can tell, is that the item was sold through Amazon, but wasn’t sold directly by, or fulfilled by, Amazon.

      In those cases, Amazon just takes a cut as a storefront, but I think that’s the end of their involvement.

      Of course, as you can see, Amazon are none too happy when people abuse their storefront to proselytize to their customers.

      1. I assure you Amazon had great power over anyone who does business through them. This company like many others lives or dies by having a contract with Amazon. This company is a vendor to Amazon and whatever Amazon wants, they will do it.

    2. Wow. I’ve forgotten about Jack Chick and his work. Are those things still circulating? I grew up in a small hillbilly town and those Chick tracts were much in evidence around my high school. HAW HAW HAW!!!!! (That’s the way we godless folks laugh in Jack Chickland. I’m still perfecting the evil leer.)

        1. I receive a (about) monthly envelope from a local JW woman. It always contains a Watchtower and a hand-written letter (unfortunately, not signed). It costs her over $1 in postage to send each time and I can’t help but wonder how many of these she sends out each month (not to mention whether it is someone I actually know). I must say that I prefer this method off proselytizing than to having them knock on my door.

      1. I got a “This Was Your Life” Chick tract, freshly-minted, stuck in my door not more than a year ago. Website quite prominent, and nutsacks on youtube are making video versions now (with many commenters’ positive comments and occasional remarks that they enjoy handing them out).

      2. Chick tracts are still around. In fact, Idaho state representative Vito Barbieri (the ignoramus who thought that a woman could get a remote gynecological exam by swallowing a miniature camera) quoted the Chick Tract Allah Had No Son. I haven’t seen any being distributed in the past couple of years, but the company is still around and its website is still active.

      3. I’ve seen a few littering a few parking lots in Jacksonville, FL, within the last 10 years. Can’t really remember exactly how long ago the last time was I saw one. Also, a few times I’ve returned to my car after shopping or whatever to find Xian nonsense on my windshield. Right into the garbage can or recycle bin when I get home. Don’t wanna be a litterbug or a jerk like the dopes who put it on my car.

      4. Yeah, Chick is still around and producing his stuff. The last one I remember seeing came out a few years ago and was “being raped as a child will cause a demon to enter you that makes you gay and gives you AIDS.”

  8. Oh dear. Well I’m sure they’ll have a new persecution fantasy to tell at their church about how satan is driving them out of business or something. I’d be tempted to collect tracts from every religion but theirs and mail it to them. Then there’s putting the local Mormon and JW missionary service on them. What’s good for the goose….

  9. Good on you Laurie! Well done.

    I’m wondering how Adidas feel about this stuff being included with their products too? I’m assuming they must have a licence to sell the shorts from them, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there is something in their contract about this sort of thing.

  10. I had a similar experience a few years back in which my small-town ISP started including Tea Party propaganda with their monthly invoices. I told them rather sharply to cut it out if they wanted to keep my business, and they did.

  11. The company must have bought the flyers to put in with their merchandise. So buying from them is indirectly funding the buisness of Mr Gritt. If anyone wishes to look at the sad website…

    Being tricked into funding some religiously motivated enterprise against one’s volition is not something anyone should have to put up with. Well done for complaining, Laurie!

  12. I’m surprised a Christian company sells something as indecent as shorts for women. Don’t they realise that they are facilitating the destruction of men’s souls, when they look upon women thusly dressed and lust after them? Shocking!!


    Has the internet community decided on a sarcasm mark yet?

  13. Very lame, sorry you had to be subjected to that kind of lunacy.
    Last year in my mailbox I received an envelope with no stamp and no return address. It just said “resident”. In it was a similar tract about the “Designer”. WTF?

    1. I keep getting requests for donations to Catholic charities addressed to family members who not only do not live with me, but most of whom died long before I moved in to my current location. I usually send them an address correction with the address of the cemetery and the location of the family burial plot.

      I have a form letter that I use to reply, which includes a few snaky lines like:

      “Feel free to write to my aunt at her current address, but she doesn’t answer whenever I call and I haven’t received a Christmas or birthday car from her for a long time.”


      “Since you are affiliated with a religious institution, you are in a far better position to communicate with the deceased than I am.”

      I wonder, though how these people get mailing lists with the names of long-dead people attached to my current location. The only ones I have ever shared a residence with are my parents, but not here. Even the IRS gives up on people who have been dead for twenty years.

  14. It’s funny that the creationist literature even features a whale. The answer to the question “who is the designer (of the whale)” has got to be “A Bloody Idiot.”

    “Hey, I’ve got an idea: I’ll make an animal that lives it’s entire life in the sea, just like all the fish. Except, I’ll make it have to breath AIR!! Instead of just swimming along getting it’s oxygen right from it’s environment, it will live it’s life constantly having to surface to breath, cursing the fish for having it so easy.
    And, aw hell, I’ll throw in mammalian hand bones and other nutty features, just for the hell of it!’

  15. Such nonsensical publications shouldn’t arouse indignation; they are interesting illustrations of the extent to which the human mind can be crippled by magical thinking. Keep the stuff, and use it to demonstrate fthe ancient human vulnerability to mind-binding. As for the creators and senders of this material, they are clearly wounded in their forebrains, more deserving of pity than the sort of tiresome rage expressed here. Don’t get your panties knotted over crippling memetic viruses; ignore them if you can’t use the pamphlets to combat the pestilence.

    1. It’s not the content of the publication that arouses indignation. It’s the violation of trust. Laurie gave the seller her address for one purpose only: to deliver the purchased goods. That was implicit in her decision to shop there, and probably explicit in the seller’s agreement with Amazon.

      The seller chose to ignore those considerations and use Laurie’s contact information for purposes far beyond the scope of their business relationship. It doesn’t matter what sort of propaganda they sent her; the fact that they sent her any at all is extremely unprofessional and worthy of censure.

  16. Good for Laurie! And Amazon seemed to be really helpful.

    I think my reaction would’ve amounted to seeing the literature and saying “f***ing a**holes” and then forgetting about it. I’m glad Laurie took action.

  17. I’ve got to say that my reaction to something like this is annoyance and yes I might contact Amazon (though the sellers on Amazon are pretty much independent operations.. as long as they’re not cheating the customer).

    The way I see it is this: If I were an orthodox Jew or devout Muslim I would have ‘justification’ because my particular sky daddy is very very jealous and ‘impure’ influences could cause me problems. But I’m not. I’m an atheist. I can offend any damned god I please. And I’m not afraid of a piece of paper. And I don’t want others to think I’m afraid of a piece of paper.

    1. The piece of paper you should be afraid of is the one with your name, address, and credit card info on it, in the hands of someone who has already demonstrated their willingness to use that information improperly.

      1. I think it’s more likely that the credit info stays with Amazon. They process it, take their cut and forward the balance to the seller.

        1. You’re probably right. Nevertheless, the problem is not the content of the tract, but the fact that you’ve unwittingly given your personal info to an untrustworthy seller.

  18. Oh wow Gitt’s stuff has made it accross the pond. I actually met him once some 7 or 8 years ago. Thanks to his talk about evolution I started reading Dawkins and Coynes books. His group is very active in the area where I live. He used to be a computer scientist for some german government institution. His supporters use the fact that he is a scientist as an argument from authority. You know if a smart man like him questions evolution then it obviously not ture. His main arguments are that information can not occur by itself it has to be created or something. He confuses his audience with a lof of higher math and therefore god did it.

    I am sorry that this women was exposed to this nonsense.

    1. I think, I first heard of Werner Gitt as I read in Wkipedia about his connections to the “creationsm” and “intelligent design” movements. But in contrast to US-creationists his influence on the German population is very small. Seems to me more of a cult following than a real movement.

      1. Well, as far as I know the audience at is talks is usually quite large. The event I was invited to had more than a thousand people, mostly teenagers in the audience. He is very popular amongst mennonites. But you are right of course he does not have any real influence on the german public.

  19. I actually had a similar experience last year. I ordered “Why I’m not a Christian” by Bertrand Russel used from one of the third party sellers off Amazon. It came with a proselytizing pamphlet espousing the glories of Jesus, I probably should of sent an email to the seller asking if they inserted it but I just was amused and forgot to further inquire on it. I still have it in the book and used it as a bookmark.

Leave a Reply