Trying to balance speed, precision and cost is a constant area of development for labs, and increasing one usually requires a trade-off from the others. At Energy Control, like most other harm reduction organizations, our goal is not to be as precise as possible, but to reach as many people as possible, and provide them with useful information to help them make safer choices. Unlike a professional lab, this means that slight trade-offs are made in the amount of detail given if that means an even bigger improvement in cost or speed can be made.
We try to operate on the thinnest margins possible, as part of our interest in making the service accessible. However, our recent and exponential growth has made it harder and harder to absorb the increase in demand without affecting cost or error, and what has inevitably been affected is our efficiency. Functionally, we’ve gotten close to being killed by our own success. Under our current strategy, we have reached a point where we are at peak capacity most of the time, and any unforeseen repair or roadblock can set us back for weeks. As much as we’d like to believe it’s growing pains, we end up working with constant delays, leaving our team in duress and our clients, you, rightly frustrated. Additionally, our equipment can take the beating because it’s fairly new, but if we want to keep it operational for a long time we should be paying more attention to its maintenance and care.
During these last few months of forced closure due to the pandemic, we’ve had the time to stop for a second and evaluate ourselves thoroughly. Firstly, we realize that the standards of quality, cost, and speed that we wanted to uphold were not entirely realistic, in the sense that we can’t uphold them indefinitely and that they aren’t in tune with what’s most important to you: Reliability. Also, although our pricing is the same for most substances, the amount of work it takes to analyze them is largely dependent on the techniques that we use. With that in mind, we believe we have identified what we have to change to improve our service, and restore the balance of cost, efficiency, and error, that we feel is right.
- Prioritize keeping the price of core harm reduction analyses as cheap as possible (identifying all substances present in a sample and, for MDMA pills, quantifying the dose).
- Matching up the price of different kinds of analyses to their real cost.
- Conserve the option of a full quantitative analysis, but at a price that allows for all the necessary steps to keep it sustainable indefinitely.
- Allow for those interested in reports to receive them immediately after receiving the results, with the information most important to them (verifiable, tamper-proof, result data).
With that in mind, we propose transitioning to offering the following prices and types of analyses:
- Qualitative (GC/MS or HPLC/MS): 60€. This kind of analysis provides a result with the composition of the sample. All active substances are identified, but the concentration (percentage of each substance present) is not known. This kind of analysis spares us the use of reference standards (only spectral libraries are necessary) so the price can be significantly lower.
- MDMA and 2C-B pills (GC/MS and quantification through UV) 80€. The same analysis as the previous option, with quantification through UV. The concentration of MDMA and 2C-B can vary significantly and is necessary for deciding a proper dose, we quantify the amount of the active ingredient through UV spectroscopy and Beer’s law (reference standards are only necessary periodically, to verify proper instrument operation).
- Qualitative + report: 90€. Same kind of analysis as the first type, but with an included report, which is received the same day as the results and is verifiable by any third party that you choose to share it with.
- Quantitative + report (GC/MS or HPLC/MS):120€ Provides a result with the composition of the sample. All active substances are identified, as well as, for the most part their concentration. Includes a report, received the same day as the results and is verifiable by any third party that you choose to share it with.
We hope that you find these changes reasonable and fair, and we will take any and all feedback we receive into account in providing a solution that, aside from prioritizing reliability and harm reduction, will be one we can offer for many years to come. Thank you for the patience you have all shown us in these past 6 years, as we have navigated our journey from a small and controversial service to the local community, to a laboratory handling thousands of samples from nearly every country in the world. We are very proud and incredibly grateful that, although there have been many changes, the only thing that has remained constant is your support. Well, that and the fact that we remain controversial, but thanks to you, we’re still here.
These changes are live already, but we will honour any samples bought under the previous pricing.