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Problem with Flim and Flam


Kolombo
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I have re-watched the Friendship University episode and I finally realized something.

I have no see the problem with Flim and Flam scams. I mean, in this Episode they opened a University, because it had had demand on the market at that time. 

If I got well, the problem was THAT they asked money for the subjects and notes etc. Well, most university to do so, and?

Couldn't they say to Twilight that: "Sorry, but the school is not self-maintaining so, give us a break for taking money from our clients/students."? It's actually totally legal.

The other time when they raced with the apple family for the ground was actually... weak. They created a machine, like in the industrial revolution. Anyway, It would have had more sens if AJ had wanted to buy a machine like that.

you remember they had an apple cider making contest, don't you? Well, If AJ had market sense: " Okay, but what apples are ya gonna use for this? Mine? A'ight, but ya must buy 'em." Pure profit!

Put it short. Flim and Flam had good ideas, I'd say they represent the capitalism, but somehow... I don't know what... pony communism/socialism always defeats them.

What do you think?

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Their first appearance wasn't a scam, correct. They were just competition who let quality control failures get in the way. Their second appearance changed the direction of the characters and made then two-bit con artists instead of the potential of a Music Man influenced team of misguided scandalous entrepreneurs. It is certainly a missed opportunity as this world seems to better fit a Harold Hill type character than what we eventually got. 

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Well, for one in Friendship University, they plagiarized pages from Twilight's book, which is what they were actually selling. The second issue is that the money they asked for wasn't actually going to the school like they were telling their students, but rather going to expanding their resort. Taking students money from them that's supposed to be going to funding the school and then just using it for their resort isn't alright. Not to mention they were guilting students into paying more than necessary. Starswirl get's a whole stack of lessons for one bit, but when the next pony tries to buy them, he get's half of a single piece of paper ripped up, how's that fair?

 As for their first appearance, you're correct, it wasn't a scam. They had a genuinely working machine that did exactly what it said they did, and were offering a genuine product. They still pulled some scummy moves, like the deal they originally offered the Apples of splitting the profit 75/25 with the 75 going to them is clearly a terrible deal for the Apples and not something they could reasonably agree to. So, they're not exactly fair business ponies in that case, but certainly not scamming anypony, at least from what we saw. Their resort is also a genuine business, as they pointed out, so they're fully capable of being genuine business ponies...they just don't always want to, they care mostly about the bits and are more than willing to cheat or scam to get more of them, even if they don't have to.

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The issue with the University was not so much that they were charging for the lessons (which were all Twilight's lessons they ripped off, so they were charging money for something others could get for free under the guise that it was better and faster learning which wasn't true, ergo they were committing fraud) but that they were 100% scamming the ponies who attended their school. They didn't just sell lessons, they were selling them per page, preying on the population's desire and need for friendship lessons in order to turn a profit without actually helping anyone. Heck, the only reason they didn't charge Starswirl was because they just wanted his stamp of approval to keep selling; when Starswirl found out about the scam he was quite disgusted with them.

Also, when they were trying to run the Apple family out of business it wasn't a scam, no, but had this been in real life they likely would have been sued by the Apples. You can't just bring your own product to someone else's property (especially a business property) and start taking their customers. We have laws about this in the real world to prevent that kind of fiscal loss in a purely capitalist society; a more socialist society would have allowed for their small business to have the chance to flourish instead of the Apples monopolizing the area with their nepotism :laugh: lol

I think if Applejack had instead made a deal with Flim and Flam to buy the machine it would have made for a better ending. I mean, it apparently made cider just as good as the Apples do and in less time so you'd think that it would be wise business sense that would make them go, "Hey, so, ya lost and all, but how about we make a deal?"

If Flim and Flam were more honest I think they could really have a great business model. However, truly, with the names Flim and Flam, they were bound to be con artists LOL

 

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15 minutes ago, Jeric said:

Their first appearance wasn't a scam, correct. They were just competition who let quality control failures get in the way. Their second appearance changed the direction of the characters and made then two-bit con artists instead of the potential of a Music Man influenced team of misguided scandalous entrepreneurs. It is certainly a missed opportunity as this world seems to better fit a Harold Hill type character than what we eventually got. 

At the same time, SSCS6K was a scam and it wasn't. Yes, it was competition, yes quality control failures got in the way. But the profits were to be split 75-25, with the Apples with the short end of the stick.

Edited by ggg-2
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Well, there's nothing I can add that has already been pointed out by @BasementSparkle. What they were doing with the funds that were supposed to go to the school is very unethical and even though their first machine was legit, they were STILL scamming the Apples with an very unequal share of profits.

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18 minutes ago, Moon Glow said:

We have laws about this in the real world to prevent that kind of fiscal loss in a purely capitalist society; a more socialist society would have allowed for their small business to have the chance to flourish instead of the Apples monopolizing the area with their nepotism :laugh: lol

Exactly as you said. It all was much more sensible if they had an evident legal system. Because, a lot of time against them, it would be enough to call the police ponies for the mane6.

23 minutes ago, BasementSparkle said:

Well, for one in Friendship University, they plagiarized pages from Twilight's book, which is what they were actually selling. The second issue is that the money they asked for wasn't actually going to the school like they were telling their students, but rather going to expanding their resort. Taking students money from them that's supposed to be going to funding the school and then just using it for their resort isn't alright. Not to mention they were guilting students into paying more than necessary. Starswirl get's a whole stack of lessons for one bit, but when the next pony tries to buy them, he get's half of a single piece of paper ripped up, how's that fair? 

Well, I am totally agree with problem of plagiary. Without it, it still could have work, I mean, they have a resont in a las vegas like city. I am sure they have profit that is enough to cover the cost of the university, and the amount of money they got from the university is only side-profit, a plus, from a second enterprise. They can spent their money what ever they want, If they still have enough to run the school properly.  It is a private institution, so they can backup it in a way they want.

Number one rule of the market: Price of anything is that ponies are willing to pay. So they can sell a page for 10-10.000 bits if there is someone who buy it for it.

Number two: Make greater profit for less investment.

+1: Yeah, BasementSparkle is right. I am damn hell sure they don't pay taxes and fraud anyway.

As Moon Glow said, the problem with the apple cider was generally stupid. AJ should send them away with a police and a lawyer. Much more disturbing is, if I recall it right, is the mayor mare was a speaker of the cider competition. Plus, the educated Twilight didn't blow them up with a legal mumbo-jombo.

Yeah, I almost forgot about the snake oil sales case. Unfortunately, there are similar cases in our world. In better cases they get caught and sent to jail.

by the way, why did they not... making new friends in a prison cell yet?

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2 hours ago, Kolombo said:

As Moon Glow said, the problem with the apple cider was generally stupid. AJ should send them away with a police and a lawyer. Much more disturbing is, if I recall it right, is the mayor mare was a speaker of the cider competition. Plus, the educated Twilight didn't blow them up with a legal mumbo-jombo.

That hinges on that actually being illegal though, and considering what we have seen of Equestrian law I doubt it. 

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The thing about Flim and Flam running Friendship University is that someone wanted to make a point of universities are scams.

Anyway we see that Friendship U. even being accredited doesn't even mention trying to acquire funding from anywhere other than charging the students with the burdens of the costs. Maybe if they were pilfering funds from somewhere else than just overly charging the students who could just walk away from the school, it would have made this a more believable scam.

Edited by Singe
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7 hours ago, Singe said:

The thing about Flim and Flam running Friendship University is that someone wanted to make a point of universities are scams.

Anyway we see that Friendship U. even being accredited doesn't even mention trying to acquire funding from anywhere other than charging the students with the burdens of the costs. Maybe if they were pilfering funds from somewhere else than just overly charging the students who could just walk away from the school, would have made this a more believable scam.

Yes, it is kind of clear, this episode was a mock on Universities, and other type of schools.

I wonder how Twilight funds her school. Oh, yeah... her students are royalties. I guess, they don't get governmental backup, because of EEA. While, she's a princess...So, yeah, crap pony legal system. 

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17 hours ago, This Whomps said:

The problem is that they're lame, overused, and antics consists of the exact same formula

Exactly. I groaned when I saw them in Friendship University, knowing exactly how this was going to go down - they're obviously up to some shady scheme, almost nopony notices except for one or two, and eventually they slip up or the one suspicious pony gets clever and foils their plans. Of course, it's a cookie-cutter formula much older than the MLP franchise, but some shows can put just enough of a twist on it to make it interesting - apparently MLP is not one of them, and they really should have retired Flim and Flam after their 2nd episode.

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8 minutes ago, Abstract said:

Exactly. I groaned when I saw them in Friendship University, knowing exactly how this was going to go down - they're obviously up to some shady scheme, almost nopony notices except for one or two, and eventually they slip up or the one suspicious pony gets clever and foils their plans. Of course, it's a cookie-cutter formula much older than the MLP franchise, but some shows can put just enough of a twist on it to make it interesting - apparently MLP is not one of them, and they really should have retired Flim and Flam after their 2nd episode.

I don't know why they love to use them so much, it's not just the main show, they show up a few times in EQG and the comics too. It's sad when the only interesting thing about the new appearance is that Twilight and Rarity deal with them and not AJ

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They need to be traumatized by Lord Tirek in Tartarus in order to go legit! I imagine having the magic sucked out of you, only to wind up unable to do ANYTHING, not even to scam anyone oughta be enough to make a guy go straight, and keep that promise! Use Tirek, pay him in secret, and boom, no more temptations, and Equestria suddenly becomes a BORING Ponyland!

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  • 2 weeks later...

I agree with a lot of what has been said here. Honestly, Flim and Flam episodes tend to be rather formulaic, and, as some have mentioned, a lot of their "scams" tend to be questionable (namely the SSCS6000 - it's a legitimately good way of producing cider, but for some reason it's just not good because...it's mass produced? Plus the scam came down to their unfair sharing of the profits rather than anything regarding the machine or cider quality itself).

Which is why I actually really enjoyed Viva Las Pegasus (which if I recall was kinda  a middling episode in terms of reception?). It showed that there's probably a better side to the twins and that they are capable of pulling off a legitimate business - it just seems the writers aren't making that good of use of this potential, or would just rather have them always play the con pony.

As for their most recent episode...

There were a lot of problems with how FU was run, but one of my biggest beefs with the episode was that, aside from Twilight's overly jealous attitude, they never really give a good comparison as to how a university should be run- they only point out what was wrong with FU, and even then, a lot of those problems were explained a little unclearly (for example,"spending students' bits to expand your resort is wrong", but they really should have explained what the difference is between using school funds and what they themselves earn as headstallions).

About the only thing we get with regards to how to run a university is that Rarity's sewing machines were bought with her own funds, but that's it. And honestly, even that is a questionable example, since if the machines are used for a legitimate friendship school lesson, shouldn't she be allowed to use school funds with Twilight's approval?

So yeah, unfortunately we don't really get a clear point of reference for how Twilight would run things, which definitely makes it hard for some viewers to see some of the twins' actions as wrong.

Edited by PacificGreen
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On 8/25/2018 at 3:15 PM, Kolombo said:

The other time when they raced with the apple family for the ground was actually... weak. They created a machine, like in the industrial revolution. Anyway, It would have had more sens if AJ had wanted to buy a machine like that.

They didn't really do anything wrong in this case, for sure. 

On 8/25/2018 at 3:15 PM, Kolombo said:

I have no see the problem with Flim and Flam scams. I mean, in this Episode they opened a University, because it had had demand on the market at that time

If I got well, the problem was THAT they asked money for the subjects and notes etc. Well, most university to do so, and?

 Couldn't they say to Twilight that: "Sorry, but the school is not self-maintaining so, give us a break for taking money from our clients/students."? It's actually totally legal.

They were embezzling funds, and they pirated Twilight's course material. I'm not entirely sure how they acquired Twilight's curriculum, but they certainly didn't pay for it. 

Edited by AlexanderThrond
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6 hours ago, PacificGreen said:

I agree with a lot of what has been said here. Honestly, Flim and Flam episodes tend to be rather formulaic, and, as some have mentioned, a lot of their "scams" tend to be questionable (namely the SSCS6000 - it's a legitimately good way of producing cider, but for some reason it's just not good because...it's mass produced? Plus the scam came down to their unfair sharing of the profits rather than anything regarding the machine or cider quality itself).

Which is why I actually really enjoyed Viva Las Pegasus (which if I recall was kinda  a middling episode in terms of reception?). It showed that there's probably a better side to the twins and that they are capable of pulling off a legitimate business - it just seems the writers aren't making that good of use of this potential, or would just rather have them always play the con pony.

As for their most recent episode...

There were a lot of problems with how FU was run, but one of my biggest beefs with the episode was that, aside from Twilight's overly jealous attitude, they never really give a good comparison as to how a university should be run- they only point out what was wrong with FU, and even then, a lot of those problems were explained a little unclearly (for example,"spending students' bits to expand your resort is wrong", but they really should have explained what the difference is between using school funds and what they themselves earn as headstallions).

About the only thing we get with regards to how to run a university is that Rarity's sewing machines were bought with her own funds, but that's it. And honestly, even that is a questionable example, since if the machines are used for a legitimate friendship school lesson, shouldn't she be allowed to use school funds with Twilight's approval?

So yeah, unfortunately we don't really get a clear point of reference for how Twilight would run things, which definitely makes it hard for some viewers to see some of the twins' actions as wrong.

There was that episode Spice Up Your Life where restaurant ponies decided to run their own business how they wanted despite what someone in a position of influence would dictate. Here we have Flim and Flam running their own business as they wanted but lose to two ponies in a position of influence that would dictate how they should run their business.

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32 minutes ago, AlexanderThrond said:

 I'm not entirely sure how they acquired Twilight's curriculum, but they certainly didn't pay for it. 

When Rarity asked the question of how they got a copy of the Journal, well... it shows the answer rather than tell it in dialogue. And it showed...

Spoiler

Cozy Glow stepping in right as the question was asked.

(5:20 is the point to watch; using phone so I can't really start from a specific point)

But, it was so obvious she's up to something...

 

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23 minutes ago, Will Guide said:

When Rarity asked the question of how they got a copy of the Journal, well... it shows the answer rather than tell it in dialogue. And it showed...

  Reveal hidden contents Reveal hidden contents

Cozy Glow stepping in right as the question was asked.

(5:20 is the point to watch; using phone so I can't really start from a specific point)

But, it was so obvious she's up to something...

 

That's probably correct, but I didn't read anything into it. Wonder what she's gonna do with the sewing machines... (no spoilers, pls)

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  • 2 weeks later...

I don't like when any story compromises and waters down the conflict.

The Flim Flam brothers didn't had a fair chance. They had to be the bad guys so they did.

The worst part is, nobody actually tasted their normally-made cider. When the first cup hit the ground, I was pissed. Not because of Rainbow Dash didn't get to drink apple cider, but because it felt like the show is avoiding it's own topic.

Regardless of that, to me, Flim Flam brothers are just annoying. We know they are a scam and It's a matter of time to figure it out. If they made a fair point about selling cider with machines are not bad, I would actually like them in the first place. I would welcome their return. But the show couldn't handle the fair conflict of two ideas and just make their's taste bad.

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6 minutes ago, Sepul-Coloratura said:

I don't like when any story compromises and waters down the conflict.

The Flim Flam brothers didn't had a fair chance. They had to be the bad guys so they did.

The worst part is, nobody actually tasted their normally-made cider. When the first cup hit the ground, I was pissed. Not because of Rainbow Dash didn't get to drink apple cider, but because it felt like the show is avoiding it's own topic.

Regardless of that, to me, Flim Flam brothers are just annoying. We know they are a scam and It's a matter of time to figure it out. If they made a fair point about selling cider with machines are not bad, I would actually like them in the first place. I would welcome their return. But the show couldn't handle the fair conflict of two ideas and just make their's taste bad.

The whole basis for the challenge is bogus though. F&F roll up with a mechanized cider making machine, get the Apples all riled up, and next thing you know they are wagering the farm on being able to make cider faster than F&F's mechanized solution, using the farm's own apples.

Sensible solution would have been to tell F&F sure, you can sell all the cider you want - but if you want to use our apples, 50% of the profits go to us, we can't satisfy demand anyhow.  No need for conflict, or a race - they could compete on taste, and with the same apples used for both, that would be down to the skill or efficiency of the two different production methods.

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3 minutes ago, Cypherhoof said:

The whole basis for the challenge is bogus though. F&F roll up with a mechanized cider making machine, get the Apples all riled up, and next thing you know they are wagering the farm on being able to make cider faster than F&F's mechanized solution, using the farm's own apples.

Sensible solution would have been to tell F&F sure, you can sell all the cider you want - but if you want to use our apples, 50% of the profits go to us, we can't satisfy demand anyhow.  No need for conflict, or a race - they could compete on taste, and with the same apples used for both, that would be down to the skill or efficiency of the two different production methods.

Yeah. If Flim Flam sold ciders just fine, there would be no problem.

I bet Applejack's cider would be much tastier because it's hand-made, but it's on the customer's choice.

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