Cereal Numbers - Or How To Make Porridge Of An Invoice
The fact that the product is pea-pod identical to every other example of the same thing does not make a difference. No substituting anything for anything. It might possibly cause the computer to explode - it will certainly draw an old-fashioned response from the accountancy staff.
We try to obviate this when we tag things or enter them into the computer system but sometimes the thing just creeps in. But there are other instances where the numbers of doom take their toll....
Some manufacturers do not put serial numbers on items when you might expect them - some number things that would seem too trivial or small to support them. In addition, some who do number tuck it into such an obscure place or apply it with such an illegible script as to defy any discovery. We pore over the surfaces and crannies of the damned things trying to find anything.
Some manufacturers play the game fairly - they make clear numbers in a contrasting colour on the lens or camera and then repeat this on a numbered card in the box, and again on a large panel visible on the outside of the box. These people we bless. Others omit nearly all of these steps and compel the sales assistant to unpack the whole parcel before they yield up their secret.
If they are particularly bloody-minded they put a metallic seal over the box of the camera to indicate freshness, virtue, and a mild flavour in the contents...but give no external serial number by which the goods inside can be verified...meaning the stock manager has to break the hermetic seal o' quality to do his job correctly - and the potential customer makes a wry face seeing the seal open. It's all theatre, but so is Grand Guignol.
At least serial numbers generally do allow for a bit of order when one is trying to see whether a particular item has been bought within Australia and might qualify for warranty support by a major manufacturer. They do keep count as they take them in from their overseas suppliers.