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.]

Quick True/False: World Capitals
Bain News Service - Library of Congress, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
10 Pats Born on St. Patrick's Day
A photo from the 1919 wedding of Princess Patricia of Connaught to the Hon. Alexander Ramsay.
A photo from the 1919 wedding of Princess Patricia of Connaught to the Hon. Alexander Ramsay.
Bain News Service - Library of Congress, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Need some St. Patrick's Day conversation fodder that doesn't involve leprechauns or four-leaf clovers? Ask your friends to name a "Pat" born on St. Patrick's Day. If they can't, they owe you a drink—then you can wow them with this list of 10.


Princess Patricia was the granddaughter of Queen Victoria, who gave up all of her royal titles when she married a commoner. She was born at Buckingham Palace on March 17, 1886.


The Dallas star was born on March 17, 1949. And here's a totally random fact about Duffy: His nephew is Barry Zito, former MLB pitcher for the Oakland Athletics and the San Francisco Giants.


Pattie Boyd
Larry Ellis, Express/Getty Images

Pattie Boyd is well-known to lovers of classic rock: She has been married three times, including once to George Harrison and once to Eric Clapton, who both wrote a couple of the most romantic songs in rock history in her honor (including The Beatles's "Something" and Clapton's "Wonderful Tonight"). Boyd was a model when she met Harrison on the set of A Hard Day's Night in 1964; the pair were married two years later. They divorced in 1977 and she married Clapton, Harrison's close friend, in 1979. She also had an affair with Ronnie Wood of the Rolling Stones toward the end of her marriage to The Quiet Beatle.


Belfast-born Pat Rice is a former footballer and coach who spent the bulk of his career with Arsenal F.C. (that's "football club," a.k.a. soccer to us Americans). He joined the Gunners in 1964 as a mere apprentice, turning pro a couple of years later. He became captain in 1977 and left the club for a few years in the early 1980s to go to Watford, but returned after he retired from playing in 1984. In 2012, after nearly 30 years with the organization, he announced his retirement.


Patty Maloney is an actress with dwarfism who stands just three feet, 11 inches tall. She has appeared in many movies and T.V. shows over the years, including operating the Crypt Keeper puppet in Tales from the Crypt. She also played Chewbacca's son Lumpy in The Star Wars Holiday Special.


Michael C. Hall and Mathew St. Patrick in 'Six Feet Under'

Ok, so Mathew St. Patrick is the stage name of the actor, but he was born Patrick Matthews in Philadelphia on March 17, 1968. You probably know him best as David's boyfriend Keith on Six Feet Under.


He may not be a household name, but the recording artists Patrick Adams writes for and helps produce certainly are. Adams has been involved in the careers of Salt-N-Pepa, Sister Sledge, Gladys Knight, Rick James, and Coolio, among others.


It's possible you look at Patrick McDonnell's work every day, depending on which comics your newspaper carries. McDonnell draws a strip called Mutts featuring a dog and a cat named Earl and Mooch, respectively. Charles Schulz called it one of the best comic strips of all time.


 Singer/Guitarist Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins performs onstage during Live Earth New York at Giants Stadium on July 7, 2007 in East Rutherford, New Jersey
Evan Agostini, Getty Images

Yes, you know him better as just plain old Billy Corgan: he's the face of the Smashing Pumpkins, engages in public feuds with Courtney Love, and maybe once dated Jessica Simpson. He made his debut on March 17, 1967.


Patricia Ford is a retired model probably best known for her Playboy photoshoots in the 1990s.


More from mental floss studios