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GRE Essay


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The following memorandum is from the business manager of Happy Pancake House restaurants.

"Recently, butter has been replaced by margarine in Happy Pancake House restaurants throughout the southwestern United States. This change, however, has had little impact on our customers. In fact, only about 2 percent of customers have complained, indicating that an average of 98 people out of 100 are happy with the change. Furthermore, many servers have reported that a number of customers who ask for butter do not complain when they are given margarine instead. Clearly, either these customers do not distinguish butter from margarine or they use the term 'butter' to refer to either butter or margarine."

Write a response in which you discuss one or more alternative explanations that could rival the proposed explanation and explain how your explanation(s) can plausibly account for the facts presented in the argument.


The business manager assumed that butter replacement hadn't affected the customers based on two indicators – the amount of customers complained in general, and the reports of servers. However, those indicators are insufficient to summarize the result.

Talking about two percent of customers complained, the manager drew a conclusion that ninety eight percent are happy with the change. This conclusion is generalized and not explored thoroughly. It might appear that the other part of customers is not happy but adapt themselves to the changes, as they visit this particular restaurant by habit, or not used to share their opinion straight at the desk. And along with that, they might start worsen the restaurant's reputation by complaining to potential customers outside the restaurant – friends, relatives, colleagues.

As for reports of servers, this indicator is also uncleared. The memorandum doesn't specify the amount of servers reported, it is left unstated what is considered by the term “many”. Lack of complaining again is ascertained as a possible incapability to distinguish butter and margarine or a referral to either butter or margarine with the term “butter”. Alternatively, it might appear that customers asked specifically for butter, but being given margarine, felt unreasonable to complain or didn't find it a big deal for reporting and asking to change margarine for butter.

Above all, for conclusion it has to be mentioned that given memorandum doesn't provide information about the amount of customers before and after changing. Experiencing restaurant's changing could be indicated by customers as a decreased level of quality and without complaining, total amount of customers has been decreased accordingly.

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