Amazon India sends a Bible, even though customer never ordered one

People on Twitter were shocked and amused earlier today when a user named Yogini Deshpande shared text messages and images that showed that she was sent a Bible by Amazon, even though no such order was placed by her. She instead had ordered a book titled “JNU Mein Ek Ladki Rahti Thi” but was instead sent a “Balsulabh Sachitra Bible”.

She put out various photos in order to prove her case. One of those was the frequent status update messages that Amazon sends a customer:

Package tracking messages sent by Amazon

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As one can see in the above screenshot of the text messages received, she had indeed ordered the JNU book, which was confirmed as being in the process of delivery by Amazon. But once the package was delivered, this is what she found inside:

An illustrated Bible in Hindi targeted at young readers

Strangely, the tags on package claimed that it was a book sent by the same publisher — Hindi Sahitya Sadan — but as one can see in the image below, the book (Bible) is published by another publisher named The Bible Society of India having its office in Bangalore:

An entirely different book published by entirely different publisher was delivered

Some people wondered if Yogini might have received the Bible as a complimentary copy with her originally ordered JNU book, but she clarified that she had received only one book — the illustrated Bible in Hindi — and never received her originally ordered book, even though her order was marked as complete by Amazon.

The incident is bizarre and intriguing as the delivered book has no relationship with what was ordered. We went through the storefront of all the books sold by the seller/publisher named Hindi Sahitya Sadan, and found that the Bible in question wasn’t part of their list of items sold.

However, the following picture shared by Yogini shows that the book was dispatched from Delhi, which is where the office of Hindi Sahitya Sadan is located:

The shipping address is of New Delhi

But why would a Delhi based publisher send an unsolicited book by a Bangalore based publisher, with whom they don’t appear to have any relationship? It led people to wonder if some publishers were sharing addresses of Amazon customers with other publishers, or if it was just a ‘technical error’ on part of Amazon, or if there was an angle of religious proselytism.

Incidentally it isn’t the first time people have had messy experiences with e-commerce websites in India. In the past, reports have claimed how people have received mangoes, stones, and soaps instead of electronic goods that they had ordered.

But interestingly, there have also been allegations in the past about people indulging in religious proselytism via e-commerce websites. According to a US based Amazon user who went by the username Jojoleb, he had received, via Amazon, a messianic missionary book aimed at converting Jews to Christianity. He alleged that the author of the book had bought a targeted mailing list to send the books to those with a Jewish sounding last name.

There have been other instances of unsolicited Bibles being sent for conversion purposes. In 2009, there were reports about the US military in Afghanistan confiscating and later disposing off Bibles written in Afghani languages, which were sent by a US Church to allegedly convert the local citizens.

It remains to be seen what caused this unsolicited Bible to reach Yogini. Amazon has promised to look into the case:

Update: On Twitter, we were informed that there were more cases of people claiming to have received a Bible instead of their regular orders placed on Amazon:

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