GRE Argument Essay 198

The following is a memo from the business manager of Valu-Mart stores.

“Over 70 percent of the respondents to a recent survey reported that they are required to take more work home with them from the workplace than they were in the past. Since Valu-Mart has not seen impressive sales in its office-supply departments in the past, we should take advantage of this work-at-home trend by increasing at all Valu-Mart stores the stock of home office machines such as printers, small copy machines, paper shredders, and fax machines. We will also increase stock of office supplies such as paper, pens, and staplers. With these changes, our office-supply departments will become the most profitable component of our stores.”

The business manager of Valu-Mart stores recommends stocking home office machines such as printers, fax machines, paper shredders etc. for an increase in profits. He supports his recommendation by citing the results of a recent survey in which 70 percent of the respondents have reported increasingly carrying more work from office to their homes. The arguer asserts that this trend of working at home can be utilized by the Valu-Mart stores for improving their sales by stocking the above mentioned home office machines in addition to increasing the stock of office supplies. Despite the evidence provided, the argument is fallacious and it fails to convince the reader that implementing the recommended action would actually be profitable for the company.

Firstly, there is no data pertaining to the kind of work that is being taken home by the respondents of the survey. It is likely that the work that is being taken home does not require extensive use of either home office machines or office supplies. For instance, the people who participated in the survey may be artists or writers who would not require printers or fax machines. Even if the respondents were not artists, the work taken home by them can be restricted to reviewing the work done by their subordinates or preparing a plan for some upcoming event. It is not necessary that all the work being done at home would require extensive use of the home office machines that have been recommended to be stocked by Valu-Mart stores. Therefore, without adequate information on the kind of office work that is increasingly being done at home, the arguer cannot convince the reader that an increase in the sale of home office machines is inevitable.

Secondly, there is no mention of the cross-section of people who participated in the survey. Were all the participants from the same company or were they all in the same profession? In either of the cases, the results of the survey would not hold true for the employees of other companies or for people in other professions. Moreover, it is likely that the work is being carried home by those employees who have recently changed companies and are undergoing training for the new work that has been assigned to them and hence, there is a need for them to review the procedures that have been learnt during the day. On the other hand, it is likely that the participants of the survey are from a company that is undergoing a phase in which there is an additional load on all the employees for a small duration. The argument could have been bolstered to an extent by providing details related to the participants of the survey which could have proved that people from all walks of life are now carrying their official work home irrespective of their professions or the companies they work for.

Thirdly, even if it is true that there is indeed an increase in the number of people who are now carrying their official work to their homes, it is not necessary that the profits of the office-supply departments of the Valu-Mart stores are dependent on this trend alone. The profits would depend a lot on the cost involved in purchasing the new stock, its transportation and handling, catering for its servicing etc. The argument needs to provide statistical data pertaining to the other stores in the neighborhood that stock similar products. The competition in the market would significantly affect the sales of items stocked by Valu-Mart.

Fourthly, the arguer needs to provide information related to the location of the Valu-Mart stores. It is necessary that the people residing in the vicinity of these stores feel the need for buying the items stocked by the office-supply departments, failing which it is likely that the stores will face severe losses as they would have already invested a sizeable amount of money in procuring the new stock.

In conclusion, the argument provides scant evidence in support of the recommendation made. Lack of crucial evidence that can establish a link between the results of the survey and an increase in the sale of home office machines has rendered the given argument indefensible.