ARG-052

The following appeared in a memo from the vice president of a food distribution company with food storage warehouses in several cities.

"Recently, we signed a contract with the Fly-Away Pest Control Company to provide pest control services at our fast-food warehouse in Palm City, but last month we discovered that over $20,000 worth of food there had been destroyed by pest damage. Meanwhile, the Buzzoff Pest Control Company, which we have used for many years, continued to service our warehouse in Wintervale, and last month only $10,000 worth of the food stored there had been destroyed by pest damage. Even though the price charged by Fly-Away is considerably lower, our best means of saving money is to return to Buzzoff for all our pest control services."


Write a response in which you discuss what specific evidence is needed to evaluate the argument and explain how the evidence would weaken or strengthen the argument.


In this memo, the owners of the company state that after they were provided pest control services by two different companies at two of their warehouse locations—Fly-Away Pest Control Company at Palm City, and Buzzoff Pest Control Company at Wintervale—they noticed monetary differences in pest damage. In the company’s opinion, negligence of Fly-Away pest control company is the best explanation as to why there is a difference in pest damage. There may be other reasons not taken into account by the company that better explain the disparity in damage at the two locations.

To begin, one indispensable aspect not mentioned in the memo is the amount of pest damages at the Palm City warehouse location when Buzzoff Company was hired to carry out the pest extermination. If the amount of pest damages at the Palm City warehouse location in the month before last was greater than $20,000, that would indicate that Fly-Away actually did a better job and saved the company more money than Buzzoff, and the company would, therefore, be incorrect in their accusation against Fly-Away’s negligence. However, if the pest damages are the same, both coming in at $20,000, these statistics wouldn’t play in favor of the company’s original assumption of excessive damages due to negligence, and said damages may be better explained by the other reasons listed below. Lastly, if the damages of the month before last were less than those of last month at the Palm City warehouse location, then the difference in pest damages could be explained, as mentioned by the company, by negligence, but it could also be explained by some of the other reasons listed below. Therefore, we need to consider different potential causes other than negligence for this discrepancy.

Additionally, in order to accurately compare and contrast the differences in service at the various locations, we need to ascertain whether the amount and types of bugs at both locations were similar or not. If the pest problem at both locations was caused by a relatively similar amount of bugs of the same type, then there would be some accuracy in the company’s claim that the reason behind the difference in pest damage is negligence related; however, if, for example, the amount of bugs at the Palm City location is significantly greater than that of the Wintervale location, then the company would need to take a closer look at the portion of bugs eliminated by the pest company and accumulate more research and evidence before they settle on the assumption that the difference in pest damage is solely due to Fly-Away’s negligence. The difference may be better explained by the inconsistency in type and amount of bugs at the two locations rather than the negligence of one of the two bug extermination companies.

Furthermore, another aspect that needs to be taken into consideration is the location of each warehouse. If the locations the warehouses are located at are drastically different, this could potentially influence pest conditions, thus affecting the amount of pests needed to be exterminated. If, for example, the Wintervale warehouse is located in a colder city with a more arid climate, the amount of bugs in the area would be significantly less than it would be at the Palm City location if the Palm City warehouse were located in a balmy area with higher precipitation levels. If this were the case, the company’s original claim in regard to negligence would struggle to acquire validation, as the difference would then be able to be explained by difference in location, climate, and surroundings. However, if this were not the case and the areas that the warehouses are located at are the same or, for the most part, similar, then the company’s assumption would gain strength and prevail over other possible conclusion.

Finally, before the owners of the company settle on the assumption that negligence is the primary reason for the difference in pest damage at the two locations, they should clarify what types of products were stored in each of the different warehouses, as some products, like fresh produce and sugar, attract more bugs than others, like canned goods and dried beans. If the product variety at both warehouses was identical or similar, then there wouldn’t be as much of a need to further consider this aspect; however, if the difference in variety of stock was significant, then the company would benefit from comparing the differences in the stock at both warehouses, then formulating their final assumption upon this foundation. If there was a relatively large difference in stock variety, then the reason behind the difference in pest damage could be explained by difference in stock rather than company negligence.

In conclusion, in addition to negligence on Fly-Away’s part, there are several other plausible reasons to explain the difference in pest damages, such as differences in pest conditions, warehouse location conditions, stock variety, and so on. Before the owners of the company resolutely state that the negligence is the best explanation, they should carefully consider these other possibilities, as they may shed more light on the reasons behind the aforementioned difference. If they do contemplate these other possibilities, they will be more likely to better deal with this problem in the future if it happens again, decrease losses, and save a greater amount of money.



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