Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Fri Dec 23 2016 22:26:53

When Politics and Religion Clash with Ecommerce

By: Ina Steiner

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It's hard to avoid hearing people's views on politics, whether you're watching cable news, perusing social networking sites, or even around the dinner table (especially during the holidays - and especially this year).

But one place you don't expect to be confronted by someone's views on politics is upon opening a package you ordered online.

Sellers can have strong feelings about current events - not to mention religion. But sharing those views with your customers is often inappropriate and can even get you into trouble by netting you negative feedback.

A recent discussion among Etsy sellers shows that people can react to unwelcome "oversharing" from sellers in a variety of ways. A buyer who received a political pamphlet with her order wondered if Etsy even allowed sellers to include such material when fulfilling orders.

Is it appropriate for the buyer to leave the seller negative feedback? Should they say something to the seller instead? Or should they avoid confrontation altogether?

What do you think? And if you received an unwelcome insert in your package, what would you do?




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Readers Comments

Perminate Link for When Politics and Religion Clash with Ecommerce   When Politics and Religion Clash with Ecommerce

by: Michael in BC This user has validated their user name.

Sat Dec 24 00:56:17 2016

So long as I get what I paid for, in good condition, I don't really care.

Those including this stuff in their shipments must be cognitively challenged if they think such material will influence people to change their lives or to vote for a particular party or candidate.  They have as much credibility as those chaps walking about the streets in their nightshirts waving sticks saying "the end is near".

My main heat source is an airtight wood stove, so it's all good for firestarter.

Perminate Link for When Politics and Religion Clash with Ecommerce   When Politics and Religion Clash with Ecommerce

This user has validated their user name. by: NiciArt
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Sat Dec 24 01:05:54 2016

Mixing politics and business is extremely inappropriate and unprofessional. Whether we are discussing sending a pamphlet with an Etsy order or a CEO such as Matt Maloney from GrubHub sending his employees a post election email, sharing should definitely have boundaries in the workspace to preserve a productive environment

Given the current political circus and extreme toxicity of US politics at moment, I simply cannot fathom how anyone might be compelled to publicly voice their support for either major political party and would think the current state of affairs should be more an embarrassment where bowing your head in silence and shame is more appropriate than voicing political associations with any degree of pride.

While opinions about politics are pervasive, ubiquitous, and entrenched deeply in almost all forms of media, there should be at least one sacred moment in our lives set aside for simply "un-boxing" with all the uninterrupted joys of participating in American Capitalism. Tarnishing such a sacred moment with the perversions of politics would definitely warrant opening a case for "item not as described." The seller should then be held fully responsible for covering the return shipping of the superfluous documentation

Perminate Link for When Politics and Religion Clash with Ecommerce   When Politics and Religion Clash with Ecommerce

by: FeelingFroggy This user has validated their user name.

Sat Dec 24 05:24:07 2016

Its no worst than all the garbage that the phone, electric or gas company send with thier bills. We just send it all back to them postage due.

ie for those of you who don't know how to do that....Just use the companies address in the upper left corner of the envelope. Never had a problem in years of doing it.

Perminate Link for When Politics and Religion Clash with Ecommerce   When Politics and Religion Clash with Ecommerce

by: 27tcle This user has validated their user name.

Sat Dec 24 13:29:47 2016

Good way to get negative feedback since some people have very thin skins. So long as i also got what i ordered i really don't care. I've received packages with everything from Christian tracts to political vote for... flyers. I got to admit that the tract with the 1 million dollar bill was pretty funny though.

Perminate Link for When Politics and Religion Clash with Ecommerce   When Politics and Religion Clash with Ecommerce

by: TomH This user has validated their user name.

Sat Dec 24 21:20:38 2016

I have a list of about 15 US Companies for their insistence on voicing their ''leader's'' political views. Latest is Levis. I do not buy products from any of them.

Individual sellers = immediate return and negative review..

Business is business. Politics is polictics. They don't mix for me. If they do for you, then I will do my small part to punish you./  

Perminate Link for When Politics and Religion Clash with Ecommerce   When Politics and Religion Clash with Ecommerce

by: Snapped This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 26 01:41:05 2016

History review:

From the smallest unintended slight resulting in 'retribution', to executive corruption stemming from conflicts of interest, business and politics are instantly mutually corrosive to each other, and all involved, when mixed.  

There are usually significant collateral damages as well.

Add religion to the brew for especially incendiary flavor.  

Perminate Link for When Politics and Religion Clash with Ecommerce   When Politics and Religion Clash with Ecommerce

by: gizmo This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 26 12:26:13 2016

The one thing most today do not realize , is Christmas is religious. The true meaning of the words twisted , as are political views. Its all become bizzare twisted to the point , of where we are today. We boycotted Xmas this year. No gifts , no dinner , no partys. I for one am done with the political party crying. You either won , or you lost. Dont be such sore losers. If you 1% ers
cannot handle it , then your really not going to like whats coming. The people have spoken , get over it. Whether threw religion , or what have you , its the idea of spreading the true word. Happy Birthday Jesus  

Perminate Link for When Politics and Religion Clash with Ecommerce   When Politics and Religion Clash with Ecommerce

This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Mon Dec 26 13:50:44 2016

I don't want any propaganda from sellers when buying online. This was the first year ever that I didn't receive any with ebafia orders.

Very unprofessional when sellers do this. It's a good way of driving buyers away regardless of your religious or political views.

Perminate Link for When Politics and Religion Clash with Ecommerce   When Politics and Religion Clash with Ecommerce

This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Mon Dec 26 14:31:14 2016

I personally don't think some are giving people much credit.  I think to blame people isn't fair when it is mostly businesses that have commercialize Christmas.  Sure there are some people that are just about the presents, but my experience there are far more that are all about the spirit of Christmas and the celebration of family and love.

Christmas at my house is full of love, family and friends.  Good food, good company and plenty of traditions I started years ago for my children to pass down if they choose.  I know many people that do the same and others that don't.  It is a personal choice for each of us to make.  

There will always be some people that choose not to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas, but we can't control that, nor should we.  Each of us has the right to decide for ourselves what is right for them.  To try and force your opinion or belief on another is not what Christmas is about or being Christian.  

Now a pet peeve of mine is when people and businesses use the word Xmas.  In my heart and the heart of many others taking ''Christ'' out of the word is disrespectful.  It is Christmas.  It is only a few letters, why it needs a nickname is something I strongly dislike.

Those are just my beliefs not anything I'd try to force on another and certainly nothing I would ever put in one of my packages.  There are plenty of proper forums to chat about what we each believe, but not as some packaging material we send out without invitation to our customers.

If you only want to sell to those of similar belief, then you should actively find where that might be.  Just because people may not believe as you believe does not make them or their beliefs any less important.

IMHO the same holds true for politics.  They have a time and place, but not in packaging material.

What is appropriate is a packing slip or other material that says who the seller is and what other items they can offer you and maybe even other sites you sell on.  That can be accomplished on a packing slip and/or a business card enclose.  Advertising your wares is very appropriate.  Your customer may still throw them out without reading it, but it is an appropriate thing to do.

Perminate Link for When Politics and Religion Clash with Ecommerce   When Politics and Religion Clash with Ecommerce

by: Volvo351 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Dec 26 20:36:15 2016

Don't care what they put in the box for filler as long as item got here in one piece. I wouldn't drop a Neg Bomb on someone for this; I'm not that petty.

Perminate Link for When Politics and Religion Clash with Ecommerce   When Politics and Religion Clash with Ecommerce

by: Patricia This user has validated their user name.

Tue Dec 27 01:00:44 2016

I bought a hair product from Amazon and it came with a religious tract inserted into the box.  I thought that was pretty pushy and so I deducted a star and said in my feedback that I didn't appreciate a religious tract (which wasn't my religion).  I would never assume something like that with my buyers...never!

Perminate Link for When Politics and Religion Clash with Ecommerce   When Politics and Religion Clash with Ecommerce

by: imbloated This user has validated their user name.

Tue Dec 27 01:21:45 2016

NiciArt: Your idea to file a case and leave bad fb for being offended seems fanatical to me, and vengeful. People currently hold very strong political and religious opinions. They feel urgent about it. They are unbalanced in their judgment, rather than trying to be offensive. They are not trying to hurt you but your response is to try to hurt their business. I would like you to consider simply writing to the person about how you felt.

Perminate Link for When Politics and Religion Clash with Ecommerce   When Politics and Religion Clash with Ecommerce

by: Moonwishes This user has validated their user name.
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Tue Dec 27 01:28:28 2016

@Marie - I agree with you in the spelling of Christmas although some say the X is from the sign of Christ back 2000 years ago. Sorry, not in our day, they are trying to take Christ out of Christmas and it is His birthday after all! I also get disgusted at Thanksgiving where we had one news reporter that insisted year after year of calling Thanksgiving Turkey Day. What is so wrong with being thankful and saying Thanksgiving, because sadly that phrase caught on in our area?

As to tracks and political messages, etc. in boxes, thankfully I've never received any but whatever my views I wouldn't appreciate it in my packages, because even if it was something that represented my own particular faith, I know that they would also end up in the hands of those that don't believe that way and will have nasty thoughts about the sender. We could get in a huge discussion of how some that send the tracks would feel that even if they got a negative for sending the track that they were being persecuted for their faith's sake, I don't really think that is what the Bible had in mind on that idea.

I've had other sellers write me during election campaigns expressing their thoughts and when I disagreed called me an idiot. Why are their options so much better than mine? One in  particular said they would never 'talk' to me again since I was so stupid. After a few months they apparently forgot what they had said and acted like they had never been so rude, because rude is what it was. I only discuss politics with my husband at this point since everyone seems to have lost their minds during this last elections no matter what party they may have been for.

Perminate Link for When Politics and Religion Clash with Ecommerce   When Politics and Religion Clash with Ecommerce

by: NeverJetHot This user has validated their user name.
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Tue Dec 27 01:37:25 2016

I don't even own a high horse, so you wouldn't see this stuff from me.

You would think that it would not be an effective way to sway people to your opinion, but political yard signs must work, or they wouldn't go to the trouble?

I always put a ''free shipping on next order'' coupon right on the packing slip, but people who re-order rarely use it. So I think most folks go straight for the merchandise, and toss the packaging.  

Perminate Link for When Politics and Religion Clash with Ecommerce   When Politics and Religion Clash with Ecommerce

by: Ebay's Slow Death This user has validated their user name.

Tue Dec 27 03:46:17 2016

We still have a retail store, and we have a basic rule that we don't discuss politics or religion there. Our customers are our guests, and it is wise to avoid those subjects, which some people can feel very emotional about.

There have been times when a customer started stating their opinion and tried to involve us in a discussion. We just say we respect their opinion, but decline to carry on a conversation about it.

You are not going to change someone else's beliefs, and some people can get pretty adamant. There is nothing to be gained by upsetting another person.

I have gotten enclosures in packages in the past. I just shake my head and put them in the recycle bin. They will do some good there.

Perminate Link for When Politics and Religion Clash with Ecommerce   When Politics and Religion Clash with Ecommerce

by: rachel This user has validated their user name.

Tue Dec 27 08:08:52 2016

I would just throw it out like when I got religious materials. i don't care if people send me political things really I dump them. i have my own strong ideas that I post on other forums meant for that but I get this election is different than most (putting it mildly) Most people do not pay attention until it impacts them anyway.

Perminate Link for When Politics and Religion Clash with Ecommerce   When Politics and Religion Clash with Ecommerce

by: rachel This user has validated their user name.

Tue Dec 27 08:40:58 2016

I would just throw it out like when I got religious materials. i don't care if people send me political things really I dump them. i have my own strong ideas that I post on other forums meant for that but I get this election is different than most (putting it mildly) Most people do not pay attention until it impacts them anyway.

Perminate Link for When Politics and Religion Clash with Ecommerce   When Politics and Religion Clash with Ecommerce

by: Flying Childers This user has validated their user name.

Tue Dec 27 09:01:40 2016

ESD has the right idea- don't s*** where you eat as the saying goes.

As far as some of the other comments from the cry babies and snow flakes:  get over yourselves.  It's a freakin' piece of paper that somebody stuck in your package!

Have people really gotten to be so politically correct that they have to have a tantrum over something like this?

Western civilization is doomed.

Perminate Link for When Politics and Religion Clash with Ecommerce   When Politics and Religion Clash with Ecommerce

This user has validated their user name. by: RKTOYS

Tue Dec 27 09:04:32 2016

It would depend on where I was.  Right now, I would just throw it out.  But when I was unemployed, another "boo hoo, the rich are victims" or "boo hoo, nobody likes my religion" would've met resistance.  With the way eBay is, any seller who dares to pull a stunt like that is beyond stupid.

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by: Ladmo This user has validated their user name.
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Tue Dec 27 09:20:14 2016

On the day that religious organizations pay their fair share of State and Federal income taxes - then and only then,  will I gladly accept, although well intentioned,  personal, biased political and/or faith based messages incorporated with business promotions. Commerce, by its very nature is - secular. When commerce becomes entwined with religion and politics, or lack thereof, it must be cast out of the temple. Do unto others...

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