I write software that involves the use of measured quantities, many input by the user, most displayed, that are fed into calculation models to simulate various physical thing-a-majigs.
We have created a data type that allows us to associate a numeric value with a unit, we call these "quantities" (big duh). Quantities and units are unique to dimension. You can't attach kilogram to a length for example. Math on quantities does automatic unit conversion to SI and the type is dimension safe (you can't assign a weight to a pressure for example).
Custom UI components have been developed that display the value and its unit and/or allow the user to edit them. Dimensionless quantities, having no units, are a single, custom case implemented within the system.
There's a set of related quantities such that our target audience apparently uses them interchangeably. The quantities are used in special units that embed the conversion factors for the related quantity dimensions...in other words, when using these units converting from one to another simply involves multiplying the value by 1 to the dimensional difference. However, conversion to/from the calculation system (SI) still involves these factors. One of these related quantities is a dimensionless one that represents a ratio.
I simply can't get the "customer" to recognize the necessity of distinguishing these values and their use. They've picked one and want to use it everywhere, customizing the way we deal with it in special places. In this case they've picked one of the dimensions that has a unit...BUT, they don't want there to be a unit (GRR!!!). This of course is causing us to implement these special overrides for our UI elements and such. That of course is often times forgotten and worse...after a couple months everyone forgets why it was necessary and why we're using this dimensional value, calling it the wrong thing, and disabling the unit.
I could just ignore the "customer" and implement the type as the dimensionless quantity, which makes most sense. However, that leaves the team responsible for figuring it out when they've given us a formula using one of the other quantities. We have to not only figure out that it's happening, we have to decide what to do. This isn't a trivial deal.
The other option is just to say to hell with it, do it the customer's way, and let it waste continued time and effort because it's just downright confusing as hell. However, I can't count the amount of times someone has said, "Why is this being done this way, it makes no sense at all," and the team goes off the deep end trying to figure it out.
What would you do?
Currently I'm still attempting to convince them that even if they use terms interchangeably, we at the least can't do that within the product discussion. Don't have high hopes though.