Shafting Your Customer As a Reputational Strategy

by Henry Farrell on February 1, 2010

“The Irish Times”:

RYANAIR HAS appeared in the bottom 10 of an “ethical ranking” of 581 companies, based on environmental performance, corporate social responsibility and information provided to consumers. … Ryanair is ranked 575 on the latest list, just ahead of Occidental Petroleum, US tobacco company Phillip Morris and oil giant Chevron. At the bottom is Monsanto, chiefly known for genetically modified foods.

This isn’t interesting because the ranking has any validity (I suspect that the ranking process is even more arbitrary than the usual – the worst-ranked companies are too obviously the bottom feeders that you _would_ expect to find there) but because I imagine that Ryanair will respond to this with a press release that marries bluster and belligerence with a certain sense of accomplishment. The company prides itself not only on being perceived as having no social conscience, but as having a reputation for screwing its customers as systematically and mercilessly as possible. Which other airline’s CEO would “announce that he wanted to charge passengers to use the toilet”: as a publicity stunt? Clearly, Ryanair thinks that this reputation is a money spinner for them (it is quite deliberately cultivated), and they have indeed made quite a lot of money. But why (if they are right) would a reputation for shafting your customers be a commercial asset for a consumer-oriented business in a relatively competitive sector? The “standard economic account”: doesn’t seem to provide much insight. Help me out here.



Barry 02.01.10 at 2:22 am

I can think of two – first, the reputation contains a strong implication of ‘cheap’; people who are cheapskates frugal will be attracted. Second, people might figure that they’re smart enough/tough enough to take advantage of the cheapness, without being tagged by the add-on charges. Most, of course, will be mistaken.


OneEyedMan 02.01.10 at 2:31 am

I’ve always assumed that just as almost everyone thinks they are an above average driver, that most Ryanair passengers think that they pay less than the average price for their tickets and associated services. They think that all the other people aren’t gaming the system as well and so those other folks are subsidizing their tickets enough to justify their own misery of budget travel.


Phillip Hallam-Baker 02.01.10 at 2:45 am

The implication is that these stunts are the reason that Ryanair is cheap. As opposed to cutting corners on maintenance and safety which are much larger cost centers.


Steven 02.01.10 at 2:47 am

Xavier Gabaix & David Laibson, 2006. “Shrouded Attributes, Consumer Myopia, and Information Suppression in Competitive Markets,” The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 121(2), pages 505-540, May.

Price is low, but uniformed consumers get shafted. Informed consumers can avoid getting shafted, and can benefit from the low prices.


P O'Neill 02.01.10 at 2:47 am

Reiterating #1 and #2, part of it is rediscovering the timeless business maxims that (1) any publicity is good publicity and (2) there’s a sucker born every minute.

Add to that their incompetent competition, state or recently ex-state airlines obsessed with long haul and hubs while Ryanair concentrated on the short haul. But one mystery is why they aren’t been pecked at by a slighter nicer low-cost. For all Michael O’Leary’s talk about being inspired by Southwest, their actual strategy is very different.


Gilbert Garza 02.01.10 at 2:53 am

Some extreme notoriety is dark. Some dark is cool. Some people seek a cool dark life style. Some cool dark life style people join with other cool dark life style people and do cool and dark things with whatever they find that is dark and cool. You and I may do this too, sometimes. There are a lot of people making choices and enought will sometimes make the dark choice and buy the tickets to make this a marketable niche. Does that answer the question?


Cryptic ned 02.01.10 at 3:34 am

Nobody expects to spend anything other than several of the worst hours of their life on an airplane, and no airlines ever crash in the developed world, so the one and only concern is price.


Kenny Easwaran 02.01.10 at 5:57 am

It’s interesting – in my own air travel purchasing habits I tend to think of Southwest along these lines, despite all evidence to the contrary. I suspect that it’s because I just assume that any “discount airline” will be a much worse experience unless it’s one like jetBlue or Virgin America that makes a point of providing a better experience. If my biases are widely-enough shared, then it isn’t worth it for discount carriers to try to provide decent customer service unless they aim to be strongly recognized for this service. Then, the association between cheapness and bad service extends to the point Barry made in comment 1, so that you might as well emphasize how bad your service is in order for people to assume that you’re really cheap.


Ahistoricality 02.01.10 at 6:04 am

I don’t think the strategy is targetted at travelers, but at investors, who seem to generally consider shafting customers and staff to be a very good sign of stock value and trend.


Sebastian 02.01.10 at 7:20 am

Barry nails it at #1. If he’s right that’s actually kind of a neat play on over-confidence. Usually, of course, we think of investor or manager over-confidence, but consumer over-confidence is kind of a cool concept, I think.


Zamfir 02.01.10 at 7:44 am

I think it’s important that Ryanair really is cheap, so these stunts are not meant to give a false impression that they are cheap. I think Philip above has the main reason: the stunts are meant to convince you that you know why Ryanair is cheap, instead of leaving an “There must be something wrong with them” feeling.

Another factor that might play a role is that Ryanair flies a lot from small, out of the way airfields (unlike Easyjet). So if you use a ticket search machine for the cheapest flight between two main destinations, Ryanair is often not in the list.

So customers have to look around to see whether Ryanair flies from another airfield not too far away, and that means Ryanair needs more name awareness than others.


Zamfir 02.01.10 at 8:55 am

On another note, how did Monsanto get that low on the list?

They have nasty business practices, they sell poison and they sell GM food. But Microsoft is at no.12 , so nasty business practices to lock in your monopolies are clearly not a major factor in the weighting. Dupont is no.13 , so selling poison isn’t a problem either.

And whatever you think of GM food, it’s hardly in the same league of harm as dumping mercury in rivers selling tobacco to kids. Even Northrop Grumman, whose entire product range is designed to kill people is several hundreds of places higher on the list.


hix 02.01.10 at 9:00 am

Id rather say that Ryanair is a quasi monopolist in their niche. So maybe Ryanair is just stupid and can get away with it?


Billikin 02.01.10 at 9:00 am

Cheapness aside, there is another important thing in terms of reputation: honesty. In the modern world people are used to being shafted by large companies who lie about it. It is refreshing to find one that makes no pretense about that. Or at least pretends to. ;)

I have heard of a popular restaurant where the staff go out of their way to be rude to the customers. Perhaps there is a similar perverse attraction here, too.


ah 02.01.10 at 10:27 am

Similar to Billikin, I think giving your customers low expectations may help. On the few occasions I’ve flown Ryanair, I feel in advance “this is going to be a grim flight” so when I get a actual seat and the plane is moderately clean and we land in one piece, I feel pleasantly surprised. And then tell my friends – Ryanair isn’t that bad really.


Alex 02.01.10 at 10:42 am

I think it’s actually directed at employees. Ryanair is a serial union basher. Also, a significant percentage of FR’s f/os are actually paying to fly on revenue flights as “self sponsored line training”, something the company’s customer-facing PR is notably quieter about than it is about, say, tall tales about standing only class.


alex 02.01.10 at 11:05 am

“FR’s f/os”? I know you’re a plane geek, but have mercy.


Gareth Rees 02.01.10 at 11:15 am

FR is Ryanair’s IATA code. f/o is a flight officer.

On Henry’s question, I think that sometimes the fundamental attribution is not in error, and this is one of those cases.


Ari 02.01.10 at 12:21 pm

I’m with ah on this. They want customer expectations low because Ryanair has no intention of providing anything other than the most minimal of service. As no one expects anything pleasant from them (other than low prices obviously) no one will complain when they receive exactly that.


novakant 02.01.10 at 12:30 pm

Not very surprising – lots of people are just plain masochistic and irrational in the face of naked capitalism. I’m sure everybody knows the type, who is a poor sod with a crap job that will never get him anywhere, but who will nevertheless defend fat cats raking in the millions without any accountability – I suspect they want a strong father substitute or something to give them a sense of security, because they’re essentially weaklings.


Daragh McDowell 02.01.10 at 1:21 pm

The weirdest thing about Ryanair is that their reputation as the ‘cheap’ ‘no-frills’ airline survives even though their business model seems to revolve around tacking ridiculous charges on to their tickets when you’re at the end of the online booking process! For example – myself and the better half are heading on holidays, and Ryanair was the only real option timetable wise. As a result we’re paying £30 to check a single bag, £20 for an ‘administration fee’ and £20 ‘web check-in fee.’ The last one is particularly galling – online check-in saves Ryanair money in personnel costs, printing etc. So I’m actually PAYING to reduce their costs. And my only other option is to pay an even bigger fee to check in in person…


Phillip Hallam-Baker 02.01.10 at 1:23 pm

Economics is not a model of why people make purchasing decisions, that is psychology.

The only reason for surprise here is that some very ignorant economists are so full of themselves that they imagine that the simplification assumptions they make in their models must be gospel truth. After all, there can be nothing wrong with their models, can there.

People are frequently stupid. People frequently make decisions for utterly stupid reasons. People frequently make decisions that are completely irrational because they are manipulated into it. For example, the Americans who voted for an idiot draft dodger in 2000 because they were told the job really didn’t matter all that much and that the President would always be surrounded by good people.

Rather than keep returning to these ‘puzzling’ examples of why Rat choice might not be proven scientific fact, could we first have a single piece of scientific evidence to suggest that it is true?

Economics does not need an accurate model of psychology to function any more than Newtonian physics requires an accurate quantum model. Rat choice can provide a model of macro economics and be completely wrong when it comes to people’s actual behavior. People don’t fly RyanAir very often.

I would never fly RyanAir ever. I have no reason to think that he does not cut safety along with everything else. Like ValueJet the airline will make lots of money in the short term and the owner will make himself very very rich.


hix 02.01.10 at 1:39 pm

Questioning rational choice based on underestimated security risks off weak brand airline plane travel is pretty amusing :-).


Barry 02.01.10 at 1:49 pm

Daragh McDowell 02.01.10 at 1:21 pm

” As a result we’re paying £30 to check a single bag, £20 for an ‘administration fee’ and £20 ‘web check-in fee.’ The last one is particularly galling – online check-in saves Ryanair money in personnel costs, printing etc. ”

Those last two charges are pure fraud – there’s no way of avoiding them, so they are not even theoretically add-ons. They are part of the price.


dsquared 02.01.10 at 3:36 pm

I think the marketing message is a little bit more subtle than that. If you look closely at a piece of Ryanair marketing or an O’Leary press release, then it’s very unusual that they boast about how much profit they’re going to make out of the customers. They usually either say outright or imply that they’re doing it all for the little man, to make air travel affordable and keep fares down. The idea being that fripperies and luxuries like assigned seating and checked baggage are all right for Lord Mucketybollocks on his BA flight, but that The Plain People Of Ryanair just want to be able to spend a weekend puking in Riga for cheap. And that therefore all the daft stuff about toilets and standing-only flights is meant to a) get the message across by means of “simplify, then exaggerate”, and b) comedically convey “oh dear, those Ryanair loonies, they’re so manically committed to low fares that they sometimes step over the line into absurdity”.

I don’t know how well this goes over with the actual customer base – I suspect not all that well – but in creating a sort of ersatz populism and cementing a “cult of cheap air travel” in British and Irish politics, it’s worked a charm, and since that cult is utterly fundamental to the business model, it’s arguably a very sensible strategy (and of course, one thing we know from the last 20 years of corporate dirty-tricks revelations is that anyone competing against BA needs to have their political strategy foot forward).


dsquared 02.01.10 at 3:37 pm

(btw, I suppose one reason why Ryanair doesn’t boast about how much profit they make is that they don’t, not often or reliably).


Chris Bertram 02.01.10 at 4:03 pm

_I would never fly RyanAir ever._

You would if you had to get from Bristol to Trieste (for example).


Zamfir 02.01.10 at 4:06 pm

The idea being that fripperies and luxuries like assigned seating and checked baggage are all right for Lord Mucketybollocks on his BA flight, but that The Plain People Of Ryanair just want to be able to spend a weekend puking in Riga for cheap.
You say this as if they don’t really mean it. But personally, when I go puking somewhere not too far away, I have no trouble bringing my own sandwiches, bringing just hand luggage and I can’t really care about my seat either.

In such circumstances, Ryanairs message suddenly sounds like good sense to me.


toby 02.01.10 at 4:20 pm

Michael O’Leary just articulates something which is glaringly obvious to the ordinary punter: Aeroplanes are just flying buses, and you should pay for any service you get over and above what you would get boarding an intercity bus.

I think people relate to this – RyanAir is still better than the service you get standing in the freezing cold (as I did yesterday) waiting for a surly driver to pull up 20 minutes late.


alex 02.01.10 at 4:32 pm

@26: and yet, ironically, Greyhound is publicising its new UK services with free wifi and newspapers, and the general impression that it’s both nicer and more convenient than other modes of transport [and only £2 a ticket!!]

Both images have their share of bullshit – either way, if it breaks down, you’re stuffed – but the contrast tells us something about the complex issues involved in wooing the traveller…


scathew 02.01.10 at 4:42 pm

In that case I would probably have a lot of fun traveling Ryan Air and being a complete arse in return!


ogmb 02.01.10 at 4:52 pm

The company prides itself (…) for screwing its customers as systematically and mercilessly as possible.

And in this it is different from most other airlines how?


Pete 02.01.10 at 5:25 pm

@buses: not really related, but I’ve started boycotting the rail line between my town and London because it frequently suffers from “rail replacement buses” at weekends. These provide an inferior bus service on an irregular timetable that costs more than the normal National Express coach service. I’ve never understood why train companies aren’t obliged to offer partial refunds when this happens.


Phillip Hallam-Baker 02.01.10 at 6:07 pm


What is amusing is the notion that rational choice is a theory of everything.

Like Chiropractic, there are two versions of rational choice. The weak version of rat choice is ‘yes we know this is bogus, but it works in practice so we continue to use it for modeling’. The strong version is that rational choice is absolute truth and any difference between the theory and reality are the fault of reality.

Strong rational choice is the type of ridiculous notion that nobody should believe and when pressed the cult like believers will say ‘well nobody believes that’. And then they go on to insist on the absolute truth of precisely the position they just rejected.

There are only two reasons that the original post would be made. The first is that Henry is a true believer in strong rat choice and is asking for help understanding the apparent error being made by reality. The second is that he knows that strong rat choice is quackery and is attempting to present it as a counter-argument in the foolish belief that believers in rational choice are rational individuals who will change their beliefs in response to the evidence.


hix 02.01.10 at 6:27 pm

One of the more obvious deviations from rational behaviour is that we are bad at assesing risk from different modes of transportation. We tend to overestimate the risk of plane travel and underestimates the cars we drive ourself. To avoid Ryanair based on saftey concerns is just outlandish. Ryanairs safety record is excellent with no fatalities at all.

Air France on the other hand, a nice expensive National carrier with well paid Unioniced staff has a rather bad safety record (for an Airline which makes them still much safer than the cars we all use on a regular basis without any concern)


Q 02.01.10 at 6:35 pm

It’s marketing the brand as ‘low-cost’. It’s the same reason Costco and other discount merchandisers put cheap-looking poured-concrete floors in their stores, even though pouring and smoothing the concrete on top of the rough foundation costs about the same as installing a traditional supermarket tile floor. It looks cheaper, which makes customers assume they’re getting a better deal.


Phillip Hallam-Baker 02.01.10 at 8:41 pm

Ryanair has flown a lot less miles than Air France.

As a discount carrier it will only ever have exactly one crash. After that it will go out of business.

Comparisons based on the number of fatalities per passenger-mile are deceptive. If you consider that in past years I would fly an average of about 100,000 miles and drive less than 5,000, mostly very short trips of a few miles, the risk involved in a cross-continental flight is a lot more than the risk of a single trip to CostCo.

But in any case, the fact that something is safer than something else does not make it acceptably safe.

If there is an afterlife, the folk who enter it having fallen out of the sky on one of RyanAir’s jets are going to have an eternity of embarrassment in front of them. If the worst comes to the worst and I wrap my Jaguar XK8 around a tree or something, at least I go out in style.


Shmoe 02.01.10 at 9:58 pm

When stock-holders (read: speculating investment bankers) and not consumers (read: workers) are the driving force behind an economy this is the dystopia that ensues. Ireland has been the poster-child for this nihilism in recent years. Mr. O’Leary might want to learn from Henry Ford, as to what he thought was the best way to deal with a “captive market”.


Alex 02.02.10 at 12:18 am

In non-plane geek mode, I’d point out that if Ryanair can justify charging an online check-in fee that can be measured in pounds, they need to get a new IT department.


engels 02.02.10 at 12:57 am

Pete (#33) I agree. In the course of a recent, failed attempt to get a refund (on account of the fact that my ‘replacement bus’ had left 5 minutes before its advertised time) I was informed that the only obligation the companies are under when they stop running the trains is to provide ‘alternative transport’: the customer service person helpfully clarified that this could even be by ‘bus, car, horse and cart, whatever’. And of course they continue to sell tickets for the trains when they do this, through vending machines in usually unmanned stations, which don’t give you any warning that what you are unwittingly buying is essentially a very expensive bus ticket…


Zamfir 02.02.10 at 9:16 am

Ryanair has flown a lot less miles than Air France.

Well, yes but not as big a difference as you might think.

Ryanair carries about as much passengers every year as Air France. Air France carries them on average a lot further, but the risk is at least as much related to starts and landing as to miles flown. And given the small aircraft of Ryanair, they might actually make more starts and landing yearly than Air France.


chris y 02.02.10 at 9:28 pm

So if you use a ticket search machine for the cheapest flight between two main destinations, Ryanair is often not in the list.

Except that they often appear to be. For example, Ryanair will fly you from Manchester to Girona and tell you you’re in Barcelona. Arguably this sort if thing is as close as dammit to being false advertising. OTOH, as Chris B notes above, if you are actually interested in using comparatively obscure termini and prepared to do the research, they can offer you all sorts of incidental benefits.


Richard J 02.02.10 at 10:00 pm

Girona is a very pleasant town (and I much prefer it, on limited acquaintance, to Barcelona) but it’s not godamn Barcelona…


Current 02.03.10 at 4:42 pm

Any publicity is good publicity. All those scandalised by Ryanairs behaviour have just handed them a lot of free publicity. They often do this.


Joanne R 02.03.10 at 8:02 pm

I’m with Eh and Q — it’s a marketing tool, indicating that the brand is cheapcheapcheapcheap. This has nothing to do with reality.

There is a grocery chain in Canada that has two very different marketing strategies for East and West: in Ontario, it’s called Loblaws, aimed at the high end of the market, with self-branded products (President’s Choice) that are green, exotic or otherwise pricey. They’re known as a more expensive, high quality grocer with excellent customer service and selection.

The same chain markets itself in the West as “Superstore”; they carry the same products at the same prices in stores of the same size, but they cut back on customer service (they don’t stock the shelves well, the place is dirty, they don’t have a phone line and the customer service desk hangs up on you, the workers are rude, you pack your own groceries and pay for plastic bags). Because shopping at Superstore is such an unpleasant experience, the chain is thought to be “discount” — even though the prices are exactly the same as Loblaws prices in Ontario.

It’s a deliberate marketing strategy, and it works. People just assume that it must be cheap because it’s so horrible.


alex 02.03.10 at 8:19 pm

Not strictly true. If the photos of O’Leary punching the little old lady ever get out…


engels 02.03.10 at 8:29 pm

Ryanair has obtained court orders to shut down various complaints websites iirc so they evidently don’t believe that ‘all publicity is good publicity’…


nick s 02.04.10 at 12:45 am

given the small aircraft of Ryanair, they might actually make more starts and landing yearly than Air France.

But given also that Ryanair only flies 737-800s, if one of them goes down because of mechanical failure or shoddy maintenance, then the lot are grounded. Long-haul carriers are obliged to maintain a more diverse fleet, which increases the cost of maintenance and the risk of ending up with a load of planes with somewhat dodgy records (DC-10) and no easy way to switch them out on the routes you run.

Anyway, Ryanair is Air Cad; it’s the commercial travel equivalent of “he hits me because he loves me.”


Alex 02.04.10 at 9:17 am

also, basically the entirety of the statistical difference between Air France’s hull loss rate and the industry average is accounted for by one data point – the Concorde accident. If you must operate a cross between a spaceship and a half-tamed jet fighter, accidents will happen, and eventually they did.


Current 02.05.10 at 1:26 pm

“Ryanair has obtained court orders to shut down various complaints websites iirc so they evidently don’t believe that ‘all publicity is good publicity’…”

Well, perhaps not all, but I think they don’t mind mildly negative publicity.

I disagree with most of the criticism of Ryanair here. I’ve shopped around for flights before and I’ve never found anyone cheaper than Ryanair, even when the silly charges are taken into account. I suppose it depends where you’re flying though. I live in Ireland, and there is no Easyjet here.


Jesse 02.05.10 at 7:17 pm

Maybe I’ve fallen for Ryan Air’s perverse marketing gimmicks, but I’m not really convinced that using them is irrational like most have postulated here. I have not flown with RA for a year now, and when I did, I never checked any bags in. I also have not flown since the announcement of the new pay-for-potty system. But with that said, Ryan Air is often the cheapest carrier in Europe and by far cheaper than anything I’ve seen in the states. You just need to be cognizant of the fee structure and plan accordingly. Sometimes you also need to go out of your way to spend a little less. When I went to go visit friends in London, I managed to only spend 20 pounds on round trip air fair from Eindhoven. Yest, I needed to first connect in Dublin to exploit some of RA’s teaser rates to do so. But, I’m a uni student who is afforded way too much free time to act like convenience is of much value to me.

If you value convenience and comfort more than me, that is fine. But, to suggest that it’s irrational to sacrifice quality for lower prices, then you’re going to have a hard time garnering my respect. After all, it’s not that bad.


hix 02.05.10 at 10:48 pm

, which increases the cost of maintenance and the risk of ending up with a load of planes with somewhat dodgy records (DC-10) and no easy way to switch them out on the routes you run.

Does not sound like an illegitimate method to be safer.

I live in Ireland, and there is no Easyjet here.

My point earlier on, Ryanair has usually no direct competition and in the Irish case not even a near substitute. Easyjet is more upmarket. Its a bit like Lidl and Aldi. On first view one might think they are direct substitutes, but they are not. Aldi has the most discount niche all alone. Easyjet often flies to the major airport, for a connection where Ryanair uses airports further away up to the middle of nowhere point.


tarun 02.05.10 at 11:26 pm

No magic to it. It is price signalling.


Jack 02.06.10 at 7:34 am

There’s a classic prison tale about a new inmate coming into a particularly dangerous prison. He knows that he’s going to be new prey for every predator in the place and knows that he wouldn’t stand ten seconds in a fight with any of them. Sitting in his cell, he ponders his situation and realises what he has to do. His first contact with the other prisoners is in the canteen, so he makes his move – he smashes a cup and slashes his own face with the shards. He does something so damaging to himself that he proves to his fellow prisoners beyond any doubt that he is crazy and has nothing to lose. If he had said that he was crazy, they would have laughed at him, but he proved it by causing damage to himself. Many criminals get facial tattoos for the same reason – it is instant proof that you are a career criminal, not a wannabe or an undercover cop.

Every time O’Leary comes out with another story about how much he despises his customers or how he wants to charge to use the toilet, he ‘proves’ to us that he is so obsessed with low fares that he will damage his own reputation to save a few cents. The worse his reputation is, the stronger the proof and the more we believe that Ryanair’s fares are the lowest available.


Leigh Caldwell 02.06.10 at 1:05 pm

Just to correct a couple of misunderstandings in the comment thread:

Philip: Ryanair is not just some low-cost airline which will go out of business with a single crash: it is one of the biggest airlines in Europe.

dsquared: Its profits are not unreliable: in fact it is consistently the most profitable airline in Europe, and this year is likely to be the only one to make a profit. Although if you meant that they don’t make a marginal profit on every passenger or every flight, that’s probably true (as with any airline).

My two cents on Henry’s question – it is, as others have said, basically a signalling mechanism to convince people that Ryanair really is cheap. This is not about misleading people, as they really are relatively low-cost. It’s more because a consumer’s perception of relative cheapness influences their behaviour.

If I am convinced that Ryanair is cheap, I’m more likely to accept the additional charges, less likely to make the effort of comparing with other carriers, and after the fact, more likely to believe I’ve got a good deal and consider a repeat purchase.


Alex 02.06.10 at 5:12 pm

Doesn’t seem that much different a model than that used by the credit card industry. Great deal with many potential pitfalls. Avoid them and you’re great, don’t and you pay. As already pointed out by others, many people (myself included) think they have an opportunity to benefit.

P.S.- I was wrong. I didn’t get my boarding pass security stamped and they would not le me on my flight and so I had to pay full fare for the next available one.



hibikir 02.07.10 at 4:50 am

As for why is Monsanto so far back when Microsoft and Dupont aren’t, my best guess is that they have a third arm of failure: Their extremely aggressive protections of their product. Your crops got cross pollinated from a field nearby that is using their seeds? They’ll sue you for going against our IP. Want to reuse seeds? Nope, the genetically modified plants are set up to try to make them sterile, so that you have to buy the seeds every year. And that without getting into the less known issues of their rather anti competitive licensing agreements, that make Microsoft look like Mother Theresa.

Now, they’d be better off anyway if they did something that people actually used and at least semi-liked. Microsoft makes software that millions use every day. Dupont makes all kinds of poisons, but they do make fabrics that we know by name, and we even seek out for certain uses. Monsanto makes products that we don’t actively look for, other than roundup, and many people that use it might not even associate it with Monsanto, since the packaging doesn’t try to associate the compound with their brand.

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