There was widespread panic across New Zealand this week as news surfaced of dozens of cases of what analysts have dubbed an upswing of "intentional underperformance".
While officials called for calm, residents in several locations were said to be genuinely concerned at the so-called "outbreak of ordinary".
The first such case was noted in the town of Wellsford on Saturday, when long-time resident Bubby Holmes took delivery of a new dining table, purchased in an online sale.
Holmes, 67, said the trouble began when the delivery men unwrapped her new oak and glass table. "There were only three legs on it.
"Everyone knows that a table should have four legs, but the bloke with the clipboard informed me that the store was keeping some in reserve for when I really needed them."
Holmes, who regularly entertains guests at her famous tripe and onion evenings, said she was told the table would still "provide adequate balance on three legs", so long as no one leaned on the leg-less corner.
"I didn't really have a leg to stand on," said Holmes.
"I was forced to take their word for it, but I know when Billy McKnight and his wife Cathy come over with their homemade feijoa wine, something is bound to happen."
Closer to Auckland, legal secretary Janice Hind of North Shore commercial law firm Poole & Play raised concerns of a notable slip in dress code standards among several of the partners. She said the firm had "always prided itself on its very formal attire" but that policy suddenly seemed to have been deemed redundant.
"Mr Poole has always been a very snappy dresser," said Ms Hind, who herself was dressed in a pair of EziBuy tracksuit pants, a Glassons cardigan and some old slippers she found in the laundry cupboard. "But suddenly on Monday he turned up like he just couldn't be bothered.
"I asked him if everything was all right, but he just said he didn't have another important meeting for a couple of weeks so he had decided he could look 'bloody ugly' if he wanted to.
"It certainly made me feel a little uncomfortable, but he said the worse he looked the more people would underestimate him, and that could be a very powerful thing in a big battle.
"I don't know, though. You still have to have pride in yourself, don't you?" she asked, as she took out several hair curlers and lit a fresh cigarette.
In the South Island, questions were raised after customers at Ashburton cafe Over Easy found their bacon had significantly shrunk this week. Regular customer Bart French, an irrigation technician, said the reduction in portion size was startling.
"I ordered my usual - three poached eggs, a hash brown, mushrooms and bacon, but when it arrived I thought, 'That's not a side of bacon. That's barely an edge.'"
An investigation revealed several of the staff had been "deliberately holding back" on the delicious pig confection in an attempt to lower the expectations of the customers.
Manager Christy Jones said she believed if they had kept offering the usual helping of streaky goodness, then customers would have "just come to expect that level of service".
"We operate in a competitive environment and, when every other cafe in town is trying to find ways to beat us, the last thing we want to do is over-deliver," said Miss Jones, who is also studying to be a vet nurse.
"In fairness, our staff need to get something out of it too and, if that means holding something back and putting themselves under a bit of pressure from customers, then that can only be good for them in the long term. We have very large bookings for the next three weekends so, in a way, this is the perfect preparation for those high-intensity shifts."
Dr Francis Next, a lecturer in performance anxiety at the University of Auckland, said while the number of cases of intentional underperformance seemed to be on the rise, New Zealanders shouldn't be too alarmed.
"I think it is good to be vigilant about these things," said Dr Next.
"But it could always be worse.
"We could be England."