GMAT : Analysis of An Argument

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An Argument


62. The following appeared as part at an article in the business section of a local newspaper.

The Cumquat Cafe made a mistake in moving to a new location. After one year at the new spot, it is doing about the same volume of business as before, but the owners of the Robo Wrench plumbing supply wholesale outlet that took over its old location are apparently doing better. Robo Wrench is planning to open a store in a neighbouring city.


Question


Discuss how well reasoned you find this argument. In your discussion be sure to analyze the line of reasoning and the use of evidence in the argument. For example, you may need to consider what questionable assumptions underline the thinking and what alternative explanations or counterexamples might weaken the conclusion. You can also discuss what sort of evidence would strengthen or refute the argument, what changes in the argument would make it more logically sound and what, if anything, would help you better evaluate in conclusion.


Analysis


According to this newspaper article, the Cumquat Cafe made a mistake by relocating one year ago. The author supports this claim by pointing out that Cumquat is doing about the same volume of business as before it moved, while Robo Wrench plumbing supply outlet, which took over Cumquat's old location, is apparently doing better because its owners plan to open a new outlet in a nearby city.

This argument suffers from several critical flaws.

To begin with, the two businesses are too dissimilar for meaningful comparison. Cumquat's old location may simply have been better suited to hardware, plumbing and home improvement businesses than to cafes and restaurants. The article's claim that Cumquat made a mistake in moving fails to take this possibility into account.

Secondly, the article's claim that Robo Wrench is doing better since it took over Cumquat's old location is too vague to be meaningful. The author fails to provide a second term of this comparison. We are not informed whether Robo Wrench is doing better than before it moved, better than other plumbing stores or better than Cumquat. This uninformative comparison is worthless as evidence from which to judge the wisdom of Cumquat's decision to relocate.

Thirdly, the claim that Robo Wrench is doing better is unwarranted by the evidence. The mere fact that Robo Wrench plans to open a new store in a nearby city does not by itself establish that business is good. It is possible that the purpose of this plan is to compensate for lacklustre business at the current location. Or perhaps the Robo Wrench owners are simply exercising poor business judgment.

Finally, the claim that Cumquat made a mistake in moving may be too hasty, since the conclusion is based on only one year's business at the new location. Moreover, given the time it ordinarily takes for a business to develop a new customer base in a new location, the fact that Cumquat's volume of business is about the same as before it moved tends to show that the move was a good decision, not a mistake.

In conclusion, the claim that Cumquat's move was a mistake is ill-founded, since it is based on both poor and incomplete comparisons as well as on a premature conclusion. To better assess the argument, we need to know what the author is comparing Robo Wrench's performance to. We also need more information about the extent of Rob Wrench’s success at this location and why its owners are opening a new store.

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