Call it pet afterlife insurance. Or call it the strangest small business venture we've heard about in this lifetime. Just don't call it a holy rip-off, because the atheist known as Bart is serious about cashing in on an event he doesn't believe in.
The business in question is Eternal-Earthbound-Pets.com, a service founded by atheists whose target customers are devout Christians anticipating the rapture.
Here’s how it works:
Starting for a $110 fee, Eternal-Earthbound-Pets.com (EEP) promises that if and when the rapture occurs, they will care for any pets left behind.
What’s the rapture? According to many Christians it is when believers will be instantaneously transported to heaven, leaving behind their nonbelieving friends and earthly possessions, including pets.
So the idea behind EEP is that pets and atheists will not be raptured (according to many, the only prerequisite for rapture is accepting Jesus as your savior), which means there will be plenty of pet-loving nonbelievers available to care for all heathen animals, provided they know where the believer’s pet lives and the believer’s check has cleared. That's where EEP comes in.
“We’re all of good character, we’re pet lovers and we’ve all blasphemed against the holy spirit in accordance with Mark 3:29,” says Bart, a retired department store executive from New Hampshire and the founder of EEP, who refused to provide his full name.
Subscribers pay $110 for the first pet, and $15 for each additional under the same roof. Although he would not get specific, Bart says some people, more than one and less than 175, are on board. Holy cow!
Small Business Quandary: Can Opposites Attract?
Now there’s a lot we could write, but in an effort to keep this objective, let’s first take a look at one important way EEP is different from most businesses out there. Whereas most businesses big and small (Whole Foods (Stock Quote: WFMI) excluded) go to great lengths to demonstrate that the business owners and the customers share similar values, EEP definitely does not.
Imagine, for example, the CEO of Home Depot (Stock Quote: HD) saying to customers: “We appreciate your business, but frankly, we don't believe in D.I.Y. projects. You want to spend all weekend fixing your garage door when for a little bit more you could hire a guy who knows what he’s doing? Fine. We’ll sell you the tools, but I think you’re nuts and I would never do that kind of thing myself.”
Bart and the rest of his pals at EEP admittedly don’t think the rapture is ever going to happen, and as a result they don’t think they are ever going to have to live up to their end of the bargain.
“What I believe is inconsequential,” says Bart. “That has not stopped the people who have contracted with me. They believe I am wrong but they also believe I will execute the contract.”
As Bart admits, his customers could number in the single digits. In fact, the vast majority of the people who contact him are either atheists who want to get in on the action, or very angry Christians who feel that EEP is an affront to them.
Live and Let Live
But not all potential customers are howling mad: Hank and Susie Carter are empty-nesters who live in Atlanta and they believe in the rapture. They don’t know if it will happen in their lifetimes, but Susie thinks it is coming. MainStreet spoke to both of them about EEP.
“I’ve got two dogs, and when I’m raptured I’m not going to be worried about anything that’s left behind,” says Susie. “ I’ve got enough friends and family members that will not be raptured so I know they will get taken care of.”
Both Hank and Susie feel that the majority of rapture believers also know plenty of pet-lovers who don’t share the same beliefs. “I love everybody,” says Susie, “including atheists.”
Hank also had an interesting economic analysis.
“Just think about how insurance companies fund risk… from a pool of people who pay in but never does the entire risk pool file a claim. But in the event of the rapture the entire risk pool actually would submit a claim,” he says. “So I’ll send you the $110 but I’d ask that you put it in escrow.”
Actually I'll be cashing that, says Bart, but he adds the $110 is just to cover travel expenses. The atheists in his group share the proceeds equally and have agreed to bear the financial burden associated with pet care, even if the pets require costly ongoing medical treatments.
Of course, as far as the atheists are concerned, the potential costs associated with the care of the pet are irrelevant because they don’t think they’re ever going to have to actually care for the animals (plus, it’s only a 10-year contract, so if the rapture happens in 2020, the pet owners who have signed up are out of luck). And let’s face it, if in the next 10 years all these people do suddenly disappear, then the world is going to go pretty nuts for a little while, and who really knows where pet sitting will fall in the priority list. Really.
Hank and Susie are more amused than anything at the business idea.
“I find it humorous that this fellow doesn’t share the belief is trying to turn a profit from people who do believe,” says Hank. Adds Susie: “They are smart business people, trying to make a buck. God bless them.”
(Check out all of MainStreet’s pets coverage here.)
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