GRE Argument Essay 21

Butter has now been replaced by margarine in Happy Pancake House restaurants throughout the southwestern United States. Only about 2 percent of customers have complained, indicating that 98 people out of 100 are happy with the change. Furthermore, many servers have reported that a number of customers who still ask for butter do not complain when they are given margarine instead. Clearly, either these customers cannot distinguish margarine from butter, or they use the term ‘butter’ to refer to either butter or margarine. Thus, to avoid the expense of purchasing butter, the Happy Pancake House should extend this cost-saving change to its restaurants in the southeast and northeast as well.

The given argument draws the conclusion that the Happy Pancake House should replace butter by margarine in its restaurants in the southeast and northeast as this change has been successful in its restaurants in the southwestern part of the United States. The arguer presents some facts as evidence in proof of the claim that replacing butter by margarine has been successful throughout the southwestern United States. However, a careful scrutiny of the facts that have been presented shows that the said facts weaken the given argument instead of strengthening it. Each of the facts has been discussed in the succeeding paragraphs.

Firstly, the assumption that 98 percent of the consumers must be happy with the change is baseless because not complaining is not an indication that they are happy. They may not have complained due to varied reasons. They may not have been able to distinguish between the taste of butter and margarine. Even if they were able to distinguish the change, they probably did not complain as they thought that butter was perhaps not available. Additionally, one cannot ignore the fact that most people would avoid complaining for a trivial thing such as being served margarine instead of butter. However, there is a chance that if they are continuously served margarine instead of butter, they may stop coming to the restaurant altogether. This is because people who are used to having butter may not be open to the idea of having margarine in its place.

Secondly, the argument does not clearly state that the consumers are told that they have been served margarine instead of butter in spite of their asking for butter. They may not be complaining, but there is a chance that they would not like to come back to the restaurant again. If this change is being made without informing the customers and waiting to see their reaction, then there is a chance that this may adversely affect the image of the restaurant as the consumers may lodge a complaint that they were duped into eating something other than what they had ordered for. Therefore, assuming that people use the term ‘butter’ to refer to either butter or margarine can have serious repercussions if this assumption turns out to be false.

Lastly, nowhere in the argument, has the arguer explicitly discussed the prices of butter and margarine. Therefore, assuming that serving margarine will be cost-effective is far-fetched. Moreover, it is not necessary that what seems to be successful in one part of the country would be successful in the other part as well. This is because of the difference in the demographic make-up of different parts of the same country.

The argument could have been better substantiated had there been enough evidence that clearly supported the claim that consumers treat butter and margarine at par as far as their taste and quality is concerned. Also, there should have been more evidence in support of the claim that the consumers in the southeast and northeast parts of the country will react in a similar manner as the consumers in the southwestern United States. Therefore, the argument sounds unconvincing due to lack of sufficient evidence in support of the claim made.