Citizen vs. customer

Issue 12 and Volume 150.

Citizen vs. customer John A. Reardon Commerce Township, Michigan In “40 Million Too Late?” (Editor`s Opinion, August 1997), Editor Bill Manning hits on a word I dislike–“customer.” I agree with the efforts of some fire departments to rethink their service delivery, but I don`t think changing the word “citizen” to “customer” is appropriate or that it will meet with long-term effectiveness. When we use another word to describe something, we may in the long run change the view of that something. For 25 years, I serviced citizens while employed by the Detroit (MI) Fire Department. Now, I service customers as a service business. The rights of the citizens far outshadowed those of my customers. A citizen is a member or visitor to a specific area serviced by a fire department–“one entitled to its protection”; “one entitled to its privileges and franchises.” (Webster) A customer is defined by Webster as “one…

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