Who is sending mysterious Amazon packages to Canadian campuses?
Amazon and the RCMP are looking into who is showering post-secondary students’ unions across Canada with random gifts ranging from vibrating sex toys to phone chargers, sleep masks, and fishing tackle.
Unsolicited Amazon deliveries started arriving at student union offices in the fall. Some now possess heaps of unwanted items. The students say they are baffled, and the U.S.-based e-commerce giant is short on answers as the seemingly endless stream of packages continues to flow.
“We have been receiving a lot of sex toys. That has been something that has been quite reoccurring,” Tristan Gaudet, president of the Universite de Moncton Student Federation, told CTV Atlantic on Thursday. “If we try to guess what is in the box we’re probably not going to get it right.”
Amazon said it is investigating inquiries from consumers who have received unsolicited packages, as that would violate company policies.
“We have confirmed the sellers involved did not receive names or shipping addresses from Amazon. We remove sellers in violation of our policies, withhold payments, and work with law enforcement to take appropriate action,” an Amazon spokesperson told CTV News in a statement.
RCMP in northern Ontario said they suspect the packages are a marketing ploy by Chinese companies to target young consumers.
That theory occurred to Victoria’s Camosun College student services co-ordinator Michael Glover as well.
“Is this some sort of way of a manufacturer staying afloat by creating fake orders?” he asked. “We’re all sort of fascinated with what’s going on.”
Student unions at Ryerson University, the University of Toronto, Western University, the University of Waterloo, the University of Regina, the University of Manitoba, York University, Dalhousie University, St. Francis Xavier University, the University of New Brunswick, and Mount Allison University are among the groups who have received mystery packages.
“I would say we have received 60 items,” said Dalhousie Student Union President Amina Abawajy. “They’ve kind of become a bit normalized. We’re like, ‘Oh, another week another package.’”
It’s the same story at Carleton University in Ottawa.
“We have a make-up organizing kit, which is one of the larger products. We have eyelashes that you put on the headlights of a car,” said Carleton University Students' Association executive Zameer Masjedee.
He said the only common thread linking the packages that he’s spotted is the fact that none of the products are name brand.
Lakehead University’s students’ union told the RCMP it had received eight packages.
“Maybe someone’s (credit) card got hacked,” said Farhan Yousaf, Lakehead University Students’ Union vice-president of operations and finance.
While Amazon and the RCMP work to determine who is behind the thousands of dollars’ worth of deliveries, student leaders are grappling with what to do with their new stuff. Fundraisers and giveaways are among the ideas being tossed around. Some recipients are just grateful for the unexpected distraction from student governance.
“We’re just going to keep enjoying receiving these packages,” said Glover. “We’re all very excited. We’re like, ‘What do we get today? Oh my God?’ It’s hilarious.”
With a report from CTV Atlantic’s Cami Kepke, CTV Toronto’s Zuraidah Alman and CTV Winnipeg