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Source: Official Guide Revised GRE 2nd Ed. Part 9; Section 4; #21


Which of the following, if true, most seriously

Which of the following, if true, most seriously weakens the argument? In 1998 the United States Department of Transportation received nearly 10,000 consumer complaints about airlines; in 1999 it received over 20,000. Moreover, the number of complaints per 100,000 passengers also more than doubled. In both years the vast majority of complaints concerned flight delays, cancellations, mishandled baggage, and customer service. Clearly, therefore, despite the United States airline industry’s serious efforts to improve performance in these areas, passenger dissatisfaction with airline service increased significantly in 1999. Although the percentage of flights that arrived on time dropped slightly overall, from 77 percent in 1998 to 76 percent in 1999, some United States airlines’ 1999 on-time rate was actually better than their 1998 on-time rate., The number of passengers flying on United States airlines was significantly higher in 1999 than in 1998., Fewer bags per 1,000 passengers flying on United States airlines were lost or delayed in 1999 than in 1998., The appearance in 1999 of many new Internet sites that relay complaints directly to the Department of Transportation has made filing a complaint about airlines much easier for consumers than ever before., Although the number of consumer complaints increased for every major United States airline in 1999, for some airlines the extent of the increase was substantial, whereas for others it was extremely small.

3 Explanations


Jamiul Islam

Dear Recine,
Thanks for explanation. Indeed, if even fewer bags per 1,000 passengers flying on United States airlines were lost or delayed in 1999 than in 1998, then, what about the other factors, like flight delay, cancellation or poor customer service? If those other things do not improve at all, then only fewer loss or delay of bags will not probably improve customer satisfaction. Same logic is for choice A. Thus, both A and C are too narrow in scope, therefore incorrect.

Aug 21, 2018 • Comment

David Recine

Exactly, Jamiul! :)

Aug 25, 2018 • Reply


Jamiul Islam

Any consideration about choice C? If fewer bags per 1,000 passengers flying on United States airlines were lost or delayed in 1999 than in 1998, then, possibly, passenger satisfaction could increase as well, and that could weaken the conclusion mentioned in the last sentence of the passage.

Aug 18, 2018 • Comment

David Recine

You actually are correct that (C) is a potential weakener. It's just not the most serious weakener among the answer choices.

The main issue with (C) is that it has vague language, and vague connections to the main argument that passenger dissatisfaction is up. In terms of vague language, when it says "fewer bags" "we lost and delayed" over a one year period, how many fewer bags? Just one or two? 50% fewer? And for that matter is loss and delay the primary problem when customers complain of "mishandled baggage"? Or has damaged luggage always been a far bigger problem than loss and delay?

Exactly how much (C) weakens the argument is unclear. Whereas (D) proposes a clear very strong reason that increased customer complaints do not necessarily mean increased customer satisfaction.

Aug 21, 2018 • Reply


Chris Lele

Dec 8, 2012 • Comment

Sonum Dixit

I think I understand why D is correct, but I was wondering why it wouldn't be considered "out of scope." I was stuck between D and E, and decided against D because it seemed to be quite a stretch.

Jan 28, 2018 • Reply

David Recine

It's important to remember that "out of scope" really means "not closely related to the conclusion of the passage." However, an answer does NOT have to be closely related to the content of the rest of the passage. In fact, an answer choice can introduce completely new information that wasn't really hinted at in the passage and still be "in scope..." as long as the answer has direct relevance to the conclusion.

In that sense, answer (D) is in scope. Although the passage didn't say anything websites or methods of filing complaints, additional information about a new web-based complaint form is completely relevant tot he conclusion.

The conclusion says the ONLY possible reason that complaints increased was customer dissatisfaction. But if complaining simply became something easier that anyone can do on the Internet, that would suggest that ease of complaining, rather than actual dissatisfaction, could be the real reason complaints increased.

Jan 30, 2018 • Reply

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