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CR21041.01- Advertisement: Our competitors’ computer salespeople are paid according to the value of the products they sell, so they have a financial incentive to convince you to buy the most expensive units—whether you need them or not. But here at Comput-o-Mart, our salespeople are paid a salary that is not dependent on the value of their sales, so they won’t try to tell you what to buy. That means when you buy a computer at Comput-o-Mart, you can be sure you’re not paying for computing capabilities you don’t need.

Which of the following would, if true, most weaken the advertisement’s reasoning?

[Refer to GMAT Official Guide for Options]

• PQID: CR21041.01
• Difficulty Level: Hard
• Most Common Incorrect option choice: Choice A and Choice B
• Question Type: Weaken

## OG Solution – CR21041.01 – “Advertisement: Our Competitor’s Computer…” | Comput-o-mart

Hey folks,

Did you choose option E?

If yes, were you able to arrive at option E logically without having to rely purely on Process-of-Elimination?

Did you get confused by option A or option B? Did you end up choosing one of these other options?

These are the key questions you should ask yourself when trying to determine how well you solved this question.

This article will clear any confusions you may have and provide some guidance on the process to crack such questions.

### Identifying the conclusion

Once you have read the argument, the first step is to isolate and then visualize the conclusion.

so they won’t try to tell you what to buy.”

No, this is not the conclusion. Some students consider the word “so” to be a conclusion indicator in this case. This leads to the faulty notion that the above statement is the actual conclusion.

The real conclusion is this statement:

“When you buy a computer at Comput-o-Mart, you can be sure you’re not paying for computing capabilities you don’t need.”

Remember – the conclusion is the central singular point that the author wants us to take away from the argument. Every other statement acts as a basis of sorts for the author to make that central point.

With this in mind, ask – among the statements, which statement serves as a basis for which?

Option 1
Comput-o-Mart’s salespeople won’t tell customers what to buy. So, the customers can be sure that they will not end up paying for computing abilities they do not need.

Option 2
Comput-o-Mart’s customers will not end up paying more for computing abilities they do not need. So, their salespeople won’t tell customers what to buy.

Which of the above makes sense? Clearly, Option 1. This means that the main conclusion is:
“when you buy a computer at Comput-o-Mart, you can be sure you’re not paying for computing capabilities you don’t need.”

### Visualizing the Conclusion

Simply identifying the conclusion is not enough – we should spend a few seconds visualizing it. This means understanding every aspect of it so well that we can explain it in our own words!

Some key aspects of the conclusion:

1. The conclusion is about what happens when one buys a computer at Comput-o-Mart:
1. It is not about any other product (say printer) that may be sold at Comput-o-Mart.
2. It is not about any products (computers or otherwise) sold at the competitor’s outlets.
2. The conclusion is specific to computing capabilities and not any other feature of computers – so quality, storage capacity, etc., are not relevant.
3. In essence, the conclusion is that – when one buys a computer at Comput-o-Mart, they can be sure that they will not end up paying for computing capabilities they do not need. In other words, one can be sure that the computer they buy does not have more computing capability than what they require.

Extracting the Logic

The next step is to extract the correct logic used to arrive at the conclusion. This is an important step.

On what basis does the advertisement (author) claim that when one buys a computer at Comput-o-Mart, they can be sure that they will not end up paying for computing capabilities they do not need?

Competitors

• Salespeople are paid according to the value of the products they sell.
• Example: A salesperson who sells items worth USD 1 Million in a month will earn more than a salesperson who sells items worth USD 0.5 Million.
• This gives these salespeople a financial incentive to convince customers to buy the most expensive computers.
• This is irrespective of whether the customers actually need such expensive units.

Comput-o-Mart

• Salespeople are paid a salary that is not dependent on the value of their sales.
• Example: Whether a salesperson sells items worth USD 1 million in a month or USD 0.5 Million has no impact on the pay of the salesperson.
• Due to the above policy, they will not try to push a customer to buy an expensive unit
• Implication: a customer will only get what they need; they will not be pushed to buy a more expensive unit.

The core logic

Competitors’ salespeople will push customers to buy expensive units with more computing capabilities than what customers need for their own financial benefit, whereas Comput-o-Mart’s salespeople will not do this.

So, at Comput-o-Mart, customers will not end up paying for computing capabilities that they do not require.

### Prethinking – The Key

First, let us understand the question stem –

“Which of the following would, if true, most weaken the advertisement’s reasoning?”

The advertisement uses certain premises to arrive at a conclusion. To weaken the reasoning, we should try to break/weaken the linkages between the premises and the conclusion – then, the given premise cannot be used to make such a conclusion. This is exactly the same as what we do when we use the falsification approach!

Falsification Question:
When can one not conclude that when one buys a computer at Comput-o-Mart, they can be sure that they will not end up paying for computing capabilities they do not need?

Even though –

Competitors’ salespeople will push customers to buy expensive units with more computing capabilities than what they need, whereas Comput-o-Mart’s salespeople will not do so.

In other words – when will Comput-o-Mart customers still end up buying computers with computing capabilities they do not need?

If you frame the correct question, it is easy to get the correct answers! .

Here are two situations –

1. What if Comput-o-Mart at present only sells expensive computers with excess computing capabilities, more than what most customers require?

Then, the aspect of salespeople pushing customers to buy expensive computers is irrelevant – the store only sells computers that are beyond what most of the customers require.

If this were true, it would weaken the reasoning used by the advertisement. The difference in salesperson behavior between Comput-o-Mart’s salespeople and its competitors’ salespeople is irrelevant.

• What if customers are not influenced by salespeople pushing a product, and most of Comput-o-Mart’s customers want only high-end computers which have computing capabilities in excess of what these customers need?

In such a case, the core logic (reasoning) used to arrive at the conclusion becomes irrelevant. Irrespective of whether salespeople try to convince customers to buy certain computers or not, most customers will still end up buying expensive computers with excessive computing capabilities.

### Answer Choice Analysis – The Endgame

Alright! So we identified and visualized the conclusion, understood the core logic, framed the correct question, and came up with some prethought ideas. Is that it?

Nope! Welcome to the endgame. The battle is not won until you have analyzed each and every option thoroughly and selected the correct answer for the correct reasons, and rejected every other choice for the correct reasons.

Option A: Some less-expensive computers actually have greater computing power than more expensive ones.

The competitors’ salespeople would still push customers to buy expensive units (irrespective of whether the customers need these or not), whereas Comput-o-Mart’s salespeople would still not push customers to buy units with more processing power than needed. Hence, the conclusion can still be made on the back of this logic. Option A does not weaken anything here.

Important Note: The option tells us that less expensive computers with computing power, which is even greater than the expensive ones, exist. This does suggest that there will be some computers that are not that expensive but have computing capabilities more than what customers may require.

But this does not in any way imply that –

1. Comput-o-Mart’s salespeople will push these less expensive but high-capacity computers, leading to customers buying such computers.
2. Customers will, out of their own preference, buy these less expensive but high-capacity computers.

If customers bought such less-expensive high-capacity computers, then one could still argue that they are not paying for the excessive computing capability (they are getting this computing capability for lesser prices). And so, the conclusion would be weakened, given that customers do not have to pay for unneeded computing capability.

But we cannot assume either of the above two scenarios.

The existence of cheaper alternatives with higher computing capabilities does not imply with any level of certainty that customers will end up buying these alternatives (either by their own preference for such computers or by a push from salespeople to buy these computers). Hence, we cannot say with any level of certainty or likelihood that customers will not end up paying more for unneeded computing capability. So, option A cannot be considered a weakener.

If you chose option A, there is a good chance you fell for the above trap in logic.

#### Option B:

This is the most popular incorrect option. If you chose it, this might have been your thought process –

• Competitors’ salespeople have financial incentives while Comput-o-Mart’s salespeople do not.
• So, Comput-o-Mart salespeople do not pay enough attention while serving customers.
• Hence, they may not be paying attention to the actual needs of the customers.
• As a result, the customers may end up buying computers with more computing capability than what they need, even in the case of Comput-o-Mart.
• So, option B is a weakener.

Correct?

Wrong!

There are multiple issues with the above logic. Let’s explore!

1. “Financial incentive to make sales” is a tad bit too generic. We know, of course, that the competitors’ salespeople are financially incentivized to make sales by virtue of their pay being dependent on the value of products sold. But Comput-o-Mart’s salespeople may also have a financial incentive to make sales, just not dependent on the value of products sold.

For example, they may have a bonus component that is dependent on the number of products sold (even if the overall value of goods sold is not much, if they sell a certain number of units of even the cheapest products, they can receive this bonus).

So, there is a red flag here right away with option B. We cannot just assume that Comput-o-Mart’s salespeople do not have any financial incentives to make sales. The argument does not go that far.
2. The argument is not concerned with which company’s salespeople provide better service, or more attentive service to customers. It is about the actual product sold (more specifically, the computing capability of the product), not the service provided.
3. “Attentive service” is again too generic – it can range from something on the lines of ensuring that the customers are given seats to sit and refreshments while they wait, all the way to giving them proper product recommendations based on their exact needs. We cannot just assume that “attentive service” will mean ensuring that the customers’ product needs are understood by the salespeople. It is too broad a term!
4. Even if Comput-o-Mart’s salespeople are not paying attentive service to their customers, we cannot just say that this means that the customers will end up buying computers with computing capabilities in excess of what they need. In reality, given the lack of attention, the customers could end up buying –
1. Computers with more computing capability than what they need.
1. Computers with less computing capability than what they need.
1. Computers with optimal computing capability (despite the lack of attention, this is also a possibility).

All the above scenarios are possibilities – we cannot say with any level of certainty that one outcome is more likely. We cannot say that customers are more likely to buy computers with excess computing ability than what they require. Unless this is so, the option cannot act as a conclusive weakener.

As you can see, option B requires way too many assumptions on our part to make it work (too many jumps of logic!). It cannot be considered a weakener!

#### Option C:

This can also be a tricky option.

The option tries (unsuccessfully!) to suggest that extended warranty being pricey may be an alternate reason for salespeople to push expensive units. Then, even Comput-o-Mart’s salespeople may push customers to buy more expensive units on account of the cheaper units being more expensive overall, or on account of a perceived lack of quality of these cheaper units. Such a situation can break the conclusion.

But, yet again, there are way too many logical jumps needed to make option C work.

Option C does suggest that extended warranties are expensive in the case of less-expensive computers as compared to expensive computers. But in terms of overall cost, which is more expensive? The option does not tell us one way or the other. For all we know, buying the cheaper computer is still the better option economically (“Buy a cheaper computer, and purchase an extended warranty, still cheaper than buying an expensive computer”). And so, despite the extended warranty adding to the cost of less expensive computers, Comput-o-mart salespeople may still not push expensive units.

Also, even if the extended warranty being pricey is an indicator of poor quality, it does not mean that Comput-o-Mart’s salespeople will act on this notion and convince customers to go for the expensive, possibly higher quality computers.

In essence, this does not conclusively weaken the logic. Competitor’s salespeople may still push the expensive units, and Comput-o-Mart’s salespeople may still not push products to customers, given their pay does not depend on the value of products sold.

Another reason to reject option C: Extended warranties can be pricey in the case of less-expensive computers. In other words, both possibilities exist – some of these less-expensive computers may have pricey extended warranties, some may not.

How do we know which type of less-expensive computers are being sold at Comput-o-Mart? For all we know, the less-expensive computers being sold at Comput-o-Mart do not have such expensive extended warranties. So, we cannot say that the salespeople here will be driven to push expensive computers with excessive computing capabilities. This is another red flag.

#### Option D:

This is irrelevant to the argument. Irrespective of how difficult it is for shoppers to buy computers at Comput-o-Mart, they may still be buying computers with more computing capabilities than what they really need.

#### Option E:

Correct!

This is in line with our prethinking.

If the customers require only basic computing and Comput-o-Mart only sells advanced computers (which have computing capabilities beyond what the customers need), then the reasoning regarding salesperson behavior (based on the pay structure) is irrelevant – irrespective of whether salespeople push expensive products for their own financial benefit or not, the customers can only buy expensive advanced computers which go beyond their requirement of basic computing.

Option E weakens the reasoning used in the argument. It is the correct answer!

1. Trust the process – identify the correct conclusion, visualize it, extract the correct logic, prethink and then, analyze each option deeply.
2. Be extra careful with answer choices like A, B, and C. Our job is not to force-fit some logic to make an answer choice correct, but figure out through logic if it is correct.
1. By making several logical jumps, each of these options can be justified. That will not make any of these options correct.
1. For example, “attentive service” should not simply be equated to salespeople making optimum product recommendations.
2. Another example – The existence of cheaper alternatives with higher computing capabilities does not imply with any level of certainty that customers will end up paying more for unneeded computing capability.
2. Be wary of such jumps in logic. If you are having to make such jumps, it is usually a red flag.
3. Be wary about inferring specific meanings from generic terms – “Financial incentive to make sales”, “attentive service”. Do not rush and assume – think through logically!

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## Practice Questions

If you liked this question (and this article), do check out the following questions too. You will love those!

1. Weaken Question: Dioxin
2. Weaken Question: Suriland
3. Strengthen Question: Marlandia

Hope this helps!
Harsha