Frankly, the PHB's request doesn't seem unreasonable to me. If he thinks the code is more readable his way, then he should have it his way, since he is paying for it.
If you bought a red car and the dealer delivered a blue car, would you be happy? Sure they both drive equally well, but if you like it red, why should you have it blue?
The OP's example, on the other hand, is something different, for it raises doubts on the Perl skills of the vendor.
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