X-Message-Number: 14820
Date: Wed, 1 Nov 2000 12:47:07 EST
Subject: "Customers"

A recent post said, "The customer is always right."

For the benefit mainly of newcomers, but also to remind regulars, again some 
remarks on "buyers" and "sellers."

In ordinary business there are typically several separate interests, to some 
extent competing and sometimes even antagonistic, including: Ownership 
(stockholders or proprietors), Management; Labor; Government (through 
taxation and regulation), and Customers.

In the "business" of cryonics, as related to the nonprofit organizations 
dominating the scene, it is very different. In the Cryonics Institute, for 
example, there are no "owners"--no stockholders. It is a membership 
organization, and nobody has an equity interest in a financial sense.

Control is in the hands of the voting members, the Board of Directors, and 
the officers, according to our By-Laws. The central concern is the benefit of 
our patients and future patients--and of course, stemming from that, the 
benefit of our members and future members.

"Management"--directors and officers--receive no remuneration; they donate 
their time and often also their money, and they are all voting members with 
suspension contracts. 

There isn't any "us" and "them," no "buyers" and "sellers." We are all in it 

Not everyone contributes equally. Some of us donate time, effort, and 
money--even bequeathing our estates to CI--in addition to our suspension 
fees. Some, on the other hand, want just to sign up and forget it. (Not to 
mention those who don't even want to sign up, but just want to kibitz.)  

In some ways, it's like a family. Some pull more than their weight, some 
less. The wheel-horses may sometimes grumble or resent it, but they usually 
keep pulling. Those who pull less sometimes, later on, pull more. But we need 
them all. Even those who mistakenly think of themselves just as "customers" 
are needed and wanted.

Those--members or not--who want to criticize are free to do so, and 
complaints can be useful in helping us improve, although most of us actually 
doing the work are already trying as hard as we know how and are well aware 
of room for improvement. Constructive suggestions can also sometimes be 
useful, although 99% of them are either old or just whining about why don't 
YOU do this and that. But everybody's morale will be a little better if we 
keep in mind that it's not us and them, not buyers and sellers, just 
immortalists trying to save our lives and help each other.

Robert Ettinger
Cryonics Institute
Immortalist Society

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