Spoon: Up All Night
Spoons Editorial
Posted by Spoonman on 08/29/06.

0.0) Preface: Tonight's my last night at Dartmouth for the summer term. I'll be back in town for a short stint before classes resume in September. Because I'm done with finals, I told my job that I'd be willing to work the 1:30-8am shift. It pays insanely, so, you know.

0.1) Intention:
Well, the gripe corner is back up and we've got some hot debate. Since I have approximately six hours to kill, I've decided to go all out and post a point by point analysis of the Dunkin Donuts issue. I realize this all gets me nowhere, but, it's something to do.

1.0) Assessment:

1.1) Machines:

The following is snipped content from Robbie's rebuttal to my earlier words about the economic issues surrounding attempts to improve efficiency at the Dunkin Donuts franchise in Laconia:

"I understand that if I really want something, I'd have to approach it in a way that would not burn the bridge I was trying to cross.

Now, you've got a couple points. The biggest point is, I'm one person, and dunkin donuts is big, so my complaint doesn't make a bit of difference. The second point is that my suggestion would be expensive to impliment.

Well, sort of. My real point was that you are one person and your complaint expresses only one point of view of the state of affairs. Secondly, that your proposed solution won't add marginal value to the situation at hand. Even though the computers you propose are probably expensive, the real issue is, "does the value added by the computer justify the price of the computer?" Even if the fixed cost of the computer were only $1.00, if it increased sales by 99c (per unit time period) then the machine would not be justified.

1.11) First Dialectic Interlude
I realize I open myself up to criticism here on the preceeding point, which I will address preemptively in dialogue between Socrates and Phaedrus.

Phaedrus: I assert that if Dunkin' Donuts purchases a computer for a price of N drachma, then the computer must undoubtedly pay for itself in sales, for sales are continual, and the cost of the computer is a one time investment. Eventually, there will be enough sales that N will be exceeded, and thus, in time, the cost of the computer is justified.

Socrates: Hmm...interesting. I have but one question. What runs computers?

Phaedrus: Why, electricity does.

Socrates: Indeed, Phaedrus, and is electricity available freely to he that seeks it, or must a man purchase it from a power cooperative?

Phaedrus: Why, he must purchase it, undoubtedly.

Socrates: Then, Phaedrus, is that not already indication of a recurrent cost in purchasing a computer? For, electricity is purchased in wattage, thus, the more watts used, the greater the electric bill. Furthermore, I would like to address what you said about future sales making up for the price of the computer. Tell me this: would you rather have $100 today, or one year from now?

Phaedrus: I would certainly rather have it today!

Socrates: And why, Phaedrus?

Phaedrus: Why, because then I could invest it for a year in stocks, bonds, or a good old fashioned bank account, make some interest, and a year later have more than $100 (with no risk in the case of the bank account). It is a clear choice that $100 today is worth more than $100 in a year.

Socrates: Indeed, you are correct, Phaedrus. Then, by the same logic, is it not also the case that it would be more costly to lose $100 today then at a future date?

Phaedrus: I agree, you are correct.

Socrates: Then I conclude that investing in a computer at the present date would cost more than the simple sum of future sales totaling the pricetag of the computer. I shall call this phenomenon of the lower future value of money "inflation."

Phaedrus: You are indeed wise, Socrates.

(They walk out)

Just to clarify, I know this really depends on the volume of sales. The fact of the matter is, we don't know (yet) what the volume of sales for this particular Dunkin' Donuts is. I do, however, maintain that it is not enough to warrant the purchase of a machine. My proof for why is recursive - we know that sales are not high enough to warrant the purchase of a machine because a machine has not been purchased yet. If the volume of sales were great enough to warrant one, then one would be bought. They will not buy one to appease just one upset customer. They will buy one to appease many upset customers - but don't let me get ahead of myself, this all will be addressed.

1.2) Fallacy of Composition:

I want to comment here on Robbie's premise - namely that he has experienced bad customer service at Dunkin Donuts. As I was saying earlier, if many customers are upset, then the business faces potential loss of profit, and a smear on its brand name. Coporations that hand out franchises will not stand for this. Remember, it is the corporation that seeks to lose from the bad performance of a franchise owner. I seek to prove merely that the situation that Robbie described does not universally constitute "bad customer service" (BCS).

I can prove this recursively - namely in 1) a company facing loss of customers due to BCS will be enjoined by the management to do something to improve itself, 2) Dunkin's of Laconia is not currently being forced by management into making strides to improve itself. 3) Therefore there has been no instance of BCS - but, since people like a deductive proof, I will attempt that too. Note that I said "loss of customers" (plural). This will be important for later.

1.21) Fallacy of Composition: The Proof
Robbie has essentially given us two assertions

1) That he has experienced order fudging and 30 minute waits at Dunkin Donuts


"Still, none of this is any excuse for poor customer service. Ask anyone in the customer service field what their goal is, and they'll tell you that it's to turn all customers around that aren't happy with their product or service. Ask them how many of the people who are unhappy tend to be polite. It's probably one out of ten. Does that make them happy? No. Does that make them want to help the people? No. But good customer service helps them anyway. It's kind of a challenge- let's get the angriest customer and make them happy. Yeah, believe or not, whether companies deem it neccessary to immediately turn a profit or not, nothing helps them in the long run like good customer service. "

2) That Dunkin' Donuts' has no justification for bad customer service. (BCS)

First, let us define BCS. Using context from Robbie's argument, I will define BCS as behavior by the company that could result in the loss of customers. For instance, if I go to McDonalds and they give me a Big Mac instead of the Double Quarter Pounder I ordered, I'm not going to stop going there - therefore, I am not affected by BCS. If they overcharge me $5 and then refuse to reimburse, then I might not go to McDonalds anymore - therefore, I am in this case affected by BCS.

What Robbie has not done is to connect the idea that his experiences at Dunkin' Donuts do in fact constitute bad customer service, and that by engaging in such practices Dunkin's of Laconia runs the risk of losing customers.

He has made the assumption that what is true for him - that the experience he has had with Dunkin' Donuts, (including incorrect orders and long waits) constitutes BCS - is true for every other customer. Now, I am not unsympathetic - many incorrect orders and long waits are to me, also, an example of BCS and would make me reconsider giving Dunkin's my patronage. However, there is still not proof that what is true of the one (Robbie) is true of the group. This is why I asked Robbie in my post on the Gripe Corner whether he'd heard other people expressing the same sentiments. If those sentiments have not been expressed , then there is no evidence that what is BCS to Robbie is BCS to others, and likewise no evidence that loss of customers (plural) is an impending threat. That is, there is no evidence that (large scale) BCS has taken place.

These other people simply accept slow service as a normal part of life. For some reason, it is just not enough to deter them from going to Dunkin' Donuts. Of course, if Robbie has talked to others and found that they do share similar sentiments, then BCS has taken place. By my earlier premise, "a company facing loss of customers due to BCS will be enjoined by the management to do something to improve itself." Thus, if Robbie is not alone, then Dunkin Donuts of Laconia will, sooner rather than later, do something to improve itself. If however, he is alone, then the company is not facing loss of customers due to BCS because the popular consensus is that BCS has not taken place. I am just trying to show that either Robbie is right and therefore help is already on the way, or that he is alone in his views and BCS is not really occurring. (See section 3.0). This is not the case of an evil corporation harassing all its patrons with BCS unchecked.

Belief that what is true of oneself is true of the group is known as the "fallacy of composition", hence the title of this section.

Now, to address the second point Robbie raises - that BCS on the part of Dunkin' Donuts is reprehensible and not justified under any circumstances. To this, I say I cannot agree more. BCS is not justifiable. However, as I have just shown, there is not clear evidence that BCS has taken place. What Robbie has essentially done is constructed what is similar to what is known as the "Straw Man" argument. He has made a statement that is easy to refute and attributed it to his opponent (in this case Dunkin' Donuts).

1.22) Second Dialectical Interlude

Dunkin' Donuts:
I maintain that I will treat my customers in ways x, y, and z.

Robbie: But I think it's reprehensible to engage in practices that qualify as bad customer service!

1.23) Analogues

What has happened is that Robbie has ascribed a position to his opponent without clarifying (as I showed in 1.21) that his opponent actually holds this position. The position that Robbie insists his opponent is taking is very easy to "knock down", (because nobody likes BCS,) which is why this logically flawed method of arguing is known as the "Straw Man."

I'm sure Robbie would be very chagrined to know that the Straw Man argument is a method often used by the Republican party to gain support for its initiatives.

1.24) Third Dialectic Interlude:

I would like to get married.

Republican But I think it's wrong to debauch the sanctity of marriage!

Naturally, everyone agrees that it is wrong to debauch the sanctity of marriage. The Republican has no trouble proving this. What he has failed to prove, however, is that the actions of the homosexual conclusively support the position that the Republican has assigned to the homosexual (i.e. that gay nuptials debauch the sanctity of marriage.)

2.0) Other points

Every large company runs on computers. It IS the modern solution that fixes all. I feel like I'm talking to a baptist church here...

Bestbuy would be dead without their inventory/checkout computers. They keep track of warranties that way.

McDonalds would cease to function without their order computers. Can you see them on a busy dinner rush tring to just .. remember every order? Or write the orders on the side of a cup somewhere? If the next person in line had to wait until the first person's order was totally finished because the people behind the counter can't remember too many orders, yeah, I'd go to BK...


Are computers right for every company? I do agree that they improve efficiency if used correctly. I don't think anyone disagrees with this. However, if their cost is not justified - if customers are being satisfied with the status quo, then a computer is not yet necessary. What is true of McDonalds, Best Buy, and the other businesses Robbie mentions is not directly linked to Dunkin' Donuts. Dunkin's does not have to keep track of warranties. I have shown when it is cost effective to buy a computer and when not. I have shown that it is inconclusive whether or not all customers are being satisfied given the only evidence we have - only that Robbie is not satisfied. To restate, of course, if customers are not satisfied on the grand scale then this will be brought to the attention of the management and a solution will come, so there is no real need to complain.

2.1) A Good Example:

"At my job, when a customer has a legit complaint, they're usually irate as well. And my response is an apology for the problem, and a suggestion to rectify the problem. Not an excuse for the problem. Customer service 101."

I don't dispute that Robbie's goodwill is more customer friendly then the somewhat terse response he received from Dunkin' Donuts. What I do know is that a customer service representitive who is not facing a customer service crisis will regard Robbie's lone letter as an anomaly. Since he is not in her face, she does not run any risk by giving him a form response. As has been demonstrated time and time again, one reaps what one sows. Not all people are saints, thus we cannot expect them all to turn the other cheek when struck on the first.

3.0) Antithesis
Robbie's argument is valid if taken in the following context.
Robbie: I have experienced 30 minute waits and order mixups. This, to me, constitutes BCS. Furthermore, BCS is never justifiable, and since I have conclusively proved that BCS exists (because at least one person has experienced it, namely, myself,) then the actions of Dunkin' Donuts are unjustifiable.

3.1) Refutation of the Antithesis
I tried to make it clear that the maxim of "BCS necessitates change" is only applicable on the grand scale because on the individual scale human opinions and preferences are so varied. Consider the following dialogue illustrating an extreme case of human opinion, which I hope proves why, although Robbie has been injured, and I sympathize with him, his opinion alone is not enough to induce action by the company.

3.11) Comic Interlude
Martha Stewart: I did not receive my coffee in a carefully wiped down cup with a straw that has been cut at a thirty degree angle on the submerged end. This to me is BCS. BCS is reprehensible, and therefore, Dunkin' Donut's mistreatment of me is too.

Dunkin' Donuts: Oh dear! We must retrain our employees so that we never engage in such poor treatment of customers again!

My point in this overblown case is that even though Robbie believes his offense is justified, it is still just his opinion. Even though it might make so much sense to expect a certain level of treatment (such as getting orders right the first time), the case may - just may - be, that ones expectations are not those of the common concensus and thus BCS has not been committed on the grand scale. Remember, BCS is an act serious enough to warrant the loss of the customer - not merely an annoyance that people just accept. Maybe people just don't get that annoyed with the odd order mixup. It's certainly possible.

4.0) Apologies
Robbie, please understand that this response comes merely from my love of the logical breakdown and discourse of an issue. I realize it is sometimes unsettling to read through something that seems to be punctuated over and over again with one's name and why one is "wrong". I assure you, my interest in this is not in one upsmanship (the reason Brian is always accused of being pretentious with his argument). My interest is solely in furthering discussion.
That, plus I'm going to be up all night. I have to do something.

edition 1.7. Editing is hard work.

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FreakBurrito @ 08/29/06
"I thought I was accused of pretensionness because no one on this site likes me..."

Spoonman @ 08/29/06
"I'm cool with you. Also, to clarify, I meant that this is how your comments are perceived, not necessarily how you intend them (though maybe you do.)"

LittleMega @ 08/29/06
"haha.. wow. great job. boredom is key"

Riev_Mordred @ 08/29/06
"Franklin, our logical breakdown of the issue is both concise and hilarious."

SpIkE @ 09/30/06
"three days ago"

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