Atheist Shows, an independent shoe firm based out of Berlin, has been delivering their popular shoes to customers around the world for over a year now, but when they decided to use the company’s name on the packing tape, shipments mysteriously experienced delays or went missing on the way to US customers. Could it just be a coincidence that these shoes with an anti-God message suffered shipment problems in a country that is predominantly Christian, or was it a deliberate attempt?
The founder of Atheist Shoes wanted to know the answer to that question, so he decided to conduct an experiment with US shipments. 89 customers in all but one US state were sent 2 packages when they placed their order; one sealed with a generic packing tape and the other with the Atheist-branded tape. To ensure accuracy, both packages were shipped out at the same time using identical delivery sources.
According to their results, packages using the branded tape took an average of 3 days longer to reach their final destination and 9 out of the 89 packages went missing compared to just 1 of the non-branded shipments. With results like this, Atheist Shoes believes that US Postal Service employees have been deliberately holding up the delivery of their shoes, despite the fact that tampering with shipments is a federal offense.
While the conclusion may seem pretty simple at first, there were a few issues that we found with the experiment, some of which the company admits it made. First off, the study places the blame on the US Postal Service instead of looking into a possible holdup in US Customs when the packages arrived in the US. This may have been easy to track if Atheist Shoes decided to track the packages, which they did not do with this experiment despite the fact that they claim tracking is done on regular orders shipped to the US.
There is also the possibility that packages containing other writing undergo additional checks during the customs or processing step. According to Atheist Shoes, they did not experiment with placing tape containing a less offending word on packages to see if this could be the cause of the delay.
Despite the obvious issues with the experiment, the company has been addressing the criticism around them and they are apparently willing to conduct more tests with better controls in place. Until then, Atheist Shoes has decided to no longer use the branded tape on shipments to US customers.