In just the last few years, I've noticed that the words "at all" have suspiciously arrived in the retail world. They serve as a form of sheer redundancy or outright confusion.
I hear them at the grocery check out when all I've bought is four litres of milk: "Will you need a bag at all?" What is the option being offered? One bag or no bags. There is no "at all". There's no option for less than one full bag, like four tenths of a bag. Why end the question with this weak modification?
"Will you need the receipt at all?" I'm sorry, is this not a yes or no question? Are you offering me half the receipt? Why not just ask: "Do you need the receipt?" The "at all" seems to suggest there is a degree of desirability in obtaining the receipt of purchase. There isn't. I either need it or I don't.
"Would you like the two-year warranty with that at all?" I don't know, will you charge me less if I'm undecided?
When this superfluous phrase is tacked on to any question, my new stock answer is: "Somewhat." Sort of throws them a curve ball.
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