A Real FA-Q to Customers


Here's a question not asked frequently enough -- how do companies dream up their FAQs? Who are these ultra-inquisitive customers? Is this how corporations view the public?

Back in 2003, in my role as research assistant on Why Business People Speak Like Idiots, I scoured the information superhighway for FAQ comedy. And while poking around my archives yesterday, I found the results.

McDonald's, for example, sees its patrons as McEnthusiasts. Who among us hasn't wondered "How do I find out what my Happy Meal toys are worth?" or "How do I buy McDonald's merchandise?" The same die-hard fans must also be cheap and neurotic world travelers, hungry for discounts: "Can I use U.S. McDonald's gift certificates in foreign countries?"

The fine folks at Arby's were understandably tired of hearing "Arby's sounds like exactly the franchise I'm looking for and I like the quality and uniqueness of the food as well as the new building design. Whom do I call for more information?"

Many a produce manager at A&P has been peppered with one burning question - "What can you tell me about lettuce?"

Clumsy people can stop crying over spilled RC Cola ("Can you help me remove soda stains?" Yes!) The jobs of those investigating Dr. Pepper's ingredients just got a little easier ("Does Dr. Pepper contain prune juice?" No!) Coke addicts are rejoicing ("Is there any connection between soft drinks and kidney stones?" No, only obesity and tooth decay!)

The handful of people watching Miss Match have lit up the switchboard at NBC. "Who performs the Miss Match theme song?" is the first (most?) frequently asked question, with "Where can I find out about music featured on a Miss Match episode?" not far behind.

"What's wrong with rodeos?" asks PETA. Apparently, you won't be the first.

For some reason, Howard Dean supporters are asking "Why Dean rather than Kucinich?" Skeptical Kucinich followers are just asking "Didn't you bankrupt the city of Cleveland?"

Whoever said there are no stupid questions must work in PR.

[Like I said, these are a few years old. I'm sure the level of idiocy has only increased, and welcome any examples you may have stumbled upon.]