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Mailing of religious pamphlets to same-sex couple was honest mistake, Vistaprint says

Stephen Heasley and Andrew Borg sued Vistaprint after receiving religous tracts instead of programs for their wedding.

By Globe Staff 

A mix-up at the factory, not an act of malice, caused the online custom printer Vistaprint to send religious pamphlets to a same-sex couple expecting programs for their wedding day, the company said Tuesday.

Vistaprint, a Dutch-owned firm with US offices in Waltham, released the results of an internal investigation in an apologetic announcement, saying that it has “never been more disappointed to let a customer down.”

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An Australian couple, Stephen Heasley and Andrew Borg, had ordered programs last year from Vistaprint for their wedding in Pennsylvania. They instead received a shipment of pamphlets discussing temptation and sin, with language such as, “Satan entices your flesh with evil desires.”

The pair took the pamphlets as an attempt “to threaten and attack” them and sued Vistaprint in January.

After suspending work with the factory where the pamphlets originated, Vistaprint determined the incident was an honest mistake: The religious fliers were a legitimate print job for another client, Vistaprint said, but the shipment was mislabeled and wound up going to Heasley and Borg.

Still, Vistaprint chief executive Trynka Shineman expressed deep regret for the couple and understands why they felt personally offended.

“I’d say that this has been quite a roller coaster for all of us,” Shineman said. “Imagine what it could have felt like for Andrew and Stephen.”

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An attorney for Heasley and Borg acknowledged they had resolved the lawsuit with Vistaprint and had received an apology. He also noted the company will make charitable donations to LGBTQ organizations in the United States and Australia.

Vistaprint said it has used the incident “as an opportunity to make a positive impact on important LGBTQ issues” and confirmed it will donate money to advocacy organizations. It is also undertaking a review of its policies around diversity.

Heasley and Borg, Shineman added, had visited Vistaprint’s office in Massachusetts and would be participating in the company’s donations to charities.

One of those causes is GLSEN, a group working on LGBTQ topics in K-12 education. The company said it plans to donate to other charities in the United States and Australia.


Andy Rosen can be reached at andrew.rosen@globe.com.