Broccoli; Puzzling Amazon-Order Situation

I don’t want to linger too long on this, because there is nothing quite like whining about less-preferred food while hoping for a solution to the world-hunger problem, but I accidentally bought frozen broccoli instead of frozen broccoli florets and I will say this: if you have wondered what they do with all the broccoli stems after they package up the broccoli florets, I have found them. I’m not an advocate of spending more just to spend more, or trying to shame people for saving money on food when “spending more to get better food” might be an option the way “going on a cruise to take your mind off your money problems” is an option, but this is one of those areas where spending 29 cents extra for the florets results in something like TEN TIMES the amount of good food. Unless you like/prefer the stems, and I do know of people who do. I myself enjoy a broccoli stem from time to time, chopped up and widely dispersed among the bountiful florets. But if what you like is the stems, I can report some good news about bags of frozen broccoli.


We had an odd thing happen and we are at a loss to explain it, and at times like these I turn to you. Here is what happened: Paul got an item in the mail from, and it was not something he’d ordered. We looked into it further, and spoke to Amazon, and here is what they said: It was not sent as a gift. It was ordered from Paul’s account, using Paul’s login and Paul’s email address. Amazon considers the matter closed: no fraud, no funny business: they can’t explain it, but Paul must have ordered it. They recommended changing his login just in case, but repeated that there was no evidence of fraudulent usage.

But! Here is the thing: when we order something from Amazon, we get an order-confirmation email and a shipping-confirmation email. Also, we are charged money for the item we ordered. Paul received neither an order confirmation nor a shipping confirmation, and we have not been charged. Also, it doesn’t show up in his order history. Also, you know how if you go to the item page of something you bought, it has a little thing like this?:

(image from

It is not there on the item page when Paul goes to it. So all of these things say to me it could NOT have been ordered from Paul’s account using Paul’s email address. It MUST have been a gift or an error. (Paul wondered if maybe the item was sent instead of something he DID order, but he’s not missing anything he’s ordered.) He contacted Amazon again: no, they say, it was ordered from his account and his email address. It is baffling. I’ve been keeping an eye on our credit card just in case, but there have been no weird charges (including for this item).

44 thoughts on “Broccoli; Puzzling Amazon-Order Situation

  1. Celeste

    FWIW I’ve always read that there is no difference in nutrition in the broccoli stems vs. the florets; it comes down to the florets having a different color and texture. I agree that the florets are much more pleasing to eat and to cook with.

    In theory it sounds great for Amazon to send a free item, because I’d love a snazzy new designer bag. In reality, the odds are that they would instead send me ink cartridges for a printer I don’t own. (sigh)

    1. Swistle Post author

      This is happy news about the nutrition of the stems, since I did make myself eat them!

    1. rlbelle

      Once I returned a book I’d accidentally purchased two of. It was a cheap little 1st-year reader, only about $3, so when I tried to return the extra copy, I was only a little surprised that they refunded me the money … then told me not to bother sending back the book. About six months later, I purchased a much pricier coloring book, then tried to return it when I found something for my daughter’s Easter basket I liked better. I was much more surprised this time when they refunded me my money and let me keep the coloring book. The only thing I can figure is that they will lose more in shipping costs for certain goods than they do just refunding the money and letting you keep the item (we have prime, so much of what we order ships free with free returns). Regardless, it made me realize that Amazon really, really wants you to want to shop with them.

  2. Gwen

    Something similar happened to me a couple of years ago. Amazon sent me two jars of coconut oil that I hadn’t ordered and didn’t appear anywhere on my account but did have my name and address on the packing slip inside. I did also have an actual order that arrived the same day, so I think the mix up was probably related to that somehow. When I contacted them online and they tried to put me through some long, convoluted process to figure it out, I told them that if they would send me a return shipping label, I’d send it back. They never did, so I followed up once and then just enjoyed my free gift. I hope you got something good!

  3. Danana

    A friend of mine once received a kitchenaid mixer in this manner. Amazon refused to take it back. They did, however, agree to exchange it for another color.

  4. Melissa

    Ha, the broccoli story was me a few months ago. Buying store brand ‘broccoli’ I was surprised to discover it was 99% stems. I still ate them, but I do like a few more florets with my stems. So now I look for ‘florets’ on the packaging. Your story made me laugh though because it’s so true if you prefer florets that buying the non-florets feels like getting so much less usable food.

  5. Alyson

    I recieved a package of something like 5 surveillance cameras once, from amazon. Same thing. I didn’t order them. I was never charged for them. They wouldn’t take them back, because unlike you, THEY insisted the cameras were never order or shipped. They just magically appeared at my house, in an amazon box with my name on it. I gave them to my dad who had some scheme about installing cameras at the Florida house. It was bizarre.

  6. Natalie

    One time I ordered something (baby bibs) from Amazon but a Chinese third party seller. They sent me an entirely random item by mistake (1000 mascara wands), but they sent me an email saying “oh sorry! We sent you that by mistake but please keep it and your actual thing will be there soon!” Also very weird but not as strange as Amazon doing it.

  7. ccr in MA

    The Amazon story reminds me of a story from my mother’s childhood (so, way pre-Amazon), where her mother ordered a dresser/chest of drawers, and was surprised to get two of them! She contacted the company, and their response was basically, “No, we didn’t send two, we sent one.” The family kept both, and I have them now, so we’ve certainly got good use out of them, especially with only paying for one!

  8. Suzanne

    I have received A Thing from Amazon, in a package of items I actually ordered. When I inquired, Amazon didn’t go so far as to say I had ordered it; the representative did say that it was mine to keep, as the expense to them of reshelving it or something wasn’t cost effective. She had a big sense of *shrug* in her voice.

    I don’t remember what it was. Some sort of boring cord or electronic component that no one in our house had a use for.

  9. Alice

    This Amazon story (plus the 1862351 stories on the blog that Celeste linked to) are CRAZY! It’s making me v paranoid about rando usage of my amazon account. Except that most of these seem to be… complete flukes..?! This is all very odd and confusing.

  10. Judith

    I used to have a similar situation with Barnes & Noble years ago (not mystery gifts, just messed up): UPS kept delivering books from publishers but intended for B&N. Usually I would get 10 or more copies. I always called UPS but the problem wasn’t corrected. Kept getting more deliveries. Then I tried dealing with the bookstore. No results. It was a big imposition since I HATE calling people. HATE HATE HATE. Finally, one day I got fed up, opened the box, kept one book, and threw the rest away. Didn’t call anyone. And wouldn’t you know? Never got another wrong package again.

  11. Superjules

    Not quite the same as the mysterious Amazon item, but I’ve recently been receiving advertisements in the mail encouraging me to plan my own cremation. I’ve gotten more than one and found it rather alarming.
    So, I mean. Depending on what the item was- has Paul considered that the Universe is trying to tell him something?

  12. Kara

    About 6 months ago, I ordered our office supplies through Amazon. Not an unusual situation, as I frequently order the supplies via Amazon. When the order showed up, it was much bigger than expected. We not only got our supplies, but a box full of various history textbooks. I called Amazon about it, and was told to just keep them or dispose of them however I desired. We weren’t charged for the books, and there were probably a few thousand dollars worth of textbooks in there. I donated them, because who needs college level history text books?

    I buy from Amazon a lot, and have a tiny bit of a problem with drunk ordering. SO when things show up that are kind of weird, it’s usually something that I decided that I needed when I was drunk. Most of the time. Sometimes, it is just a random Amazon drop ship.

  13. Grace

    Funny! We ordered something from Amazon and they sent two different shipments of the same item. They arrived on different days and we were confused when the second package arrived and were already using the first item. Amazon wouldn’t take it back, we were never charged for it, and we didn’t know what to do. We finally just gave the item to a friend who was so grateful, he sent us a huge package of my husband’s favorite jerky! Score!

    That reminds me! When we were dating, my now-husband had ordered a surround sound system. They sent him two. And then another one. He tried to send the extras back, but same thing as our recent Amazon experience: they wouldn’t take them! He wasn’t charged for them either. Well. How to use three? He sold the extras for a great deal to his bro-in-law and a friend who were thrilled to get such a nice thing for so little. The money went to buy me a ring! :)

    Oh, and during Christmas season, I ordered several things from the Disney Store. I didn’t open the box when it arrived and instead hid it until I could start wrapping things. About a week later, another box arrived. Perplexed, I opened them both. Neither box had my order exactly right (though both packing slips had the correct info), but between the two, I was able to put it together. Then I had lots of extra stuff. They took back two shirts, but told me to keep the extra three and the extra Kylo Ren mask. As the extra shirts didn’t fit any of my kids and the mask we’d ordered was specifically for our oldest, we got to sneakily make some other kids very happy!

  14. Carmen

    I have had this broccoli discussion with my husband so many times. He doesn’t understand why I willingly pay more money for florets. Well, darling husband, it’s because broccoli stems are not good! But I did read somewhere recently that if you peel the stems, all the horrible woodiness is gone and you’re left with a nice edible stem. I haven’t tried it yet, though.

    1. Shawna

      I always peel and use the stems of fresh broccoli. Wouldn’t want to try to peel the outside part off of frozen chunks of stem though!

    2. Judith

      Somehow I feel that the effort vs. reward ratio on that is a little too low to actually attempt it.

  15. Shannon

    I’m having the opposite issue with Amazon right now, and it’s making me really nervous. I didn’t receive anything in the mail in error, but for about the past six months I’ve been receiving more-than-daily (as in, multiple times a day) notifications that an item I ordered (that I didn’t actually) has been shipped to a person who isn’t me at an address I’ve never heard of. My working assumption is that someone entered my email address, either on purpose or by accident, and hasn’t fixed it.

    The strangest part: All of these items (of which there have been hundreds, at this point) have been Pokémon related. Video games, books, garments, etc. Sometimes the orders are canceled shortly after they’re placed, and Amazon writes me to confirm. I’ve been contemplating whether to waste an hour calling Amazon to try to get to the bottom of this, but Swistle’s experience has convinced me, finally, that it probably isn’t worth it. So I’ll just keep living in a state of incredulousness about how dedicated someone else is to Pokémon.

    1. Dana Malan

      You can use your email address to reset the password for that account if you want, forcing the person making those orders to re-establish a new account with the correct email address! I did that last year – someone signed up for Snapchat with my email address and therefore I couldn’t sign up myself until I locked them out. Not the nicest feeling in the world but it works!

  16. Celeste

    About a year ago, when I had a 6 month old baby who would not sleep more than 25 minutes at a time and I was almost literally losing my mind, I ordered a special little swaddling suite thingy, in the desperate hope it would help my baby sleep. Amazon sent me an entitere unopened box of the individually packaged swaddlers-12 of them. And I was like “well…I guess I should let Amazon know about this and send them back.” But instead I stuck them in a closet (including the one I’d taken out of the packaging and tried out, because it did nothing for the terrible sleep situation). And there they sat until I cleaned out that closet a few months ago. I felt TERRIBLE when I came across them, like I’d defrauded Amazon out of eleven $20 swaddlers. But now, reading all this, I feel so much better! Amazon don’t care!

  17. stephanie

    About 15 years ago, I ordered a scanner from Amazon and it came… with a Kitchen Aid mixer, as well. Amazon had no record of sending me the mixer, there was no mention of it on the packing slip (just the scanner), so they told me to keep it. I sold that baby and bought a tv.

  18. Ali

    So crazy enough, after you posted about pillow covers a week or two ago, I ordered a set for us. (Pillow cover companies should pay you a commission!) Amazon sent us the set, then sent the exact same set two days later…so now we are covered on the pillow cover front. :)

  19. ShannonRN

    I used to think my Amazon story was unique- wow! Guess not.
    Why couldn’t they send something good though?
    Instead I got 4(!) buccaneer hats. Not super useful.

    1. Jenny

      I am laughing so hard at this one. Somehow 4 buccaneer hats is even funnier than 1000 mascara wands.

  20. Jessica

    My daughter bought a present from Amazon for her brother the other week. It did not come to us but it was delivered to a strange house about 15 states away from us. Amazon has a shipping record of sending it to strangers and has no idea why it went to them and not us. It was a prime purchase but from an independent seller and it has been a nightmare to straighten out because now the seller doesn’t have any more and the original price was a super deal and we can’t find another one that is comparable. You didn’t get a hammock swing accidentally did you?

    1. Swistle Post author

      Ha! Sadly, no. (Imagine if I HAD. That would have made for the BEST INTERNET STORY OF ALL TIME).

  21. M.Amanda

    I’ve never had Amazon screw up an order, but in college, about 15 years ago, I ordered two pairs of sunglasses that arrived within one week. Then a few weeks later I received a second pair of one of them and an apology note for having to wait for the backordered item. I debated trying to return them, but in the end decided it would cost more to undo the error than the glasses were worth. Then on top of it, I worried I’d be getting someone in trouble for making the mistake. I kept them in the packaging for a long time waiting for the company to ask me to pay for them, then gave them to my cousin.

    Last year I got an email confirming my wool wrap would arrive in a few days. I panicked. It was coming from a store I buy from often, but I had not ordered anything recently. I checked my account, no order. I checked my bank accounts, no charges. I finally called customer service. A very nice lady did some digging and determined I had won a 3rd or 4th place prize in some sweepstakes I had entered months ago. Either they didn’t send a “Congratulations, winner!” email or it got caught in the spam filter.

    Consider your mystery delivery as a karmic prize. You’re good people; you deserve it.

  22. Ruby

    I bought broccoli at my local organic hippie grocery store yesterday, and the stalks hadn’t been pre-cut into smaller bits so the pieces were HUGE. It was, like, one piece of broccoli per serving. (Also, a lot of stem. Blech.) I’d never seen broccoli served that way–I always forget it doesn’t grow in bite-sized pieces.

    That is weird about the Amazon thing! My first thought was that maybe Paul ordered something on pre-order or backorder and then forgot about it (so it wouldn’t show up on any recent credit card bills), but that wouldn’t explain why it isn’t showing up in your purchase history. Also, Amazon doesn’t charge you for backordered items until they ship, so I guess that really can’t be it. Was it something Paul COULD have ordered, at least? Or was it a totally out-of-character purchase?

    Amazon is surprisingly nonchalant about returns and refunds and stuff. On multiple occasions, I’ve requested a return and gotten a notification that I they’ll refund my money without me having to return the item. Other times, they’ve told me I have to return something within a certain window, but then I’ll miss the deadline and they’ll still refund my money despite not having received the item. My guess is that it’s not worth it once shipping costs are factored in, but still. You’d think they’d be sticklers about that kind of thing.

  23. Stephanie

    From the other side of this, Amazon’s policy about not really caring about returns drove me nuts as a seller. I used to sell on Amazon but won’t anymore. Someone would ask to return an item (didn’t like it or whatever) and Amazon would automatically refund them and charge me, and then not really care if the buyer bothered to return it.

    If you waiting long enough (90 days, I believe), you could talk to a seller customer service representative who didn’t speak English beyond their script and occasionally get your money back from Amazon. I say occasionally because even though it was their policy, it required multiple phone call attempts, difficult communication (poor English), and much hold time. So it had to be an expensive item for me to bother!

    No idea why the company does that. But there’s a reason I only buy and don’t sell there anymore!

  24. Lissa

    I worked in freight for a couple of years. The amount of times we would receive 2 of something instead of one. The problem being if they don’t have record that they sent it they can’t authorize us to return it.

    Law in NZ is that after we inform them we have it they have 6 months to get it back. After 6 months, legally it was ours.

    My washing machine, chest freezer, dishwasher, fire place and massage table I have because they were “unclaimed freight” Oh and the 144 bottles of whiskey that took the staff a while to get through.

  25. British American

    We had the same broccoli issue last week. My kids like broccoli and I bought one of those packs you just steam in the microwave. I was really disappointed to open it and most of it was stems. It wasn’t even a store brand one, so I just need to be more careful about what I buy because I totally don’t want to eat stems.

  26. Leafynell

    I skip the horrors that are the comment section of every other blog, but Swistle Commenters – you guys are pure gold!

  27. Sam

    The broccoli thing happened to me last week, even though I learned to look for “florets” on the bag I was so tired from grocery shopping I overlooked it. Since I know I’ll get maybe a serving for each small child out of one random bits bag I returned them and bought the correct type. Ugh! Frozen stems are not good.

  28. Kris H

    This happened to my parents about a year ago. This weird watch ring thing arrived in the mail addressed to my mother. She didn’t order it, she sees not trace of it in her order history, she was never charged for it, but she knows she didn’t order it. She called Amazon and they say they can see that she ordered it and they were not concerned. She has held onto the item (even though she doesn’t want it) in case someone comes back later and tries to charge her for it or something, but so far…nothing.

  29. Chrissy

    This is non-amazon related, but last Christmas I wanted to order the new illustrated Harry Potter from Barnes n Noble. It was 29.99 and if I spent $30 I got free shipping. So I browsed the clearance section for a toy or something to add on, and I saw an odd listing for some sort of STEAM toy for $.03. (There was no image for the listing.) Perfect! I added it on and checked out. Then I decided to get the book for my BFF in Atlanta, and did the same thing. A few days later, the postman knocked on my door with a GIGANTIC package. It was six feet long and flat. We dragged it in the house and when we opened it, it was a HUGE cardboard display bookshelf for some STEAM toys. Apparently it was on clearance for 3 cents. I laughed so hard I cried. Then I giggled all afternoon waiting for a WTF phone call from my friend in Atlanta. She called, and all I could do was laugh and laugh. I had no idea! My girls use the shelf to hold toys. I still crack up thinking about it.

  30. Thrift at Home

    We got three waterproof mattress covers in the mail last year from Amazon. And we hadn’t ordered them. It turned out that someone had hacked my account and because my credit card info was on file, was able to buy these mattress covers. I think they must have been an novice scammer because WHY would you order MATTRESS COVERS and why couldn’t the idiot have them sent to a different address other than mine!? It took a little while to straighten out, but we did ship the covers back, Amazon/Visa did refund the charges, and I changed my account password and deleted the card info from my account. I never let any online store keep my credit card info now.

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