Sigh... we knew it was too good to last. Since launching a over a year ago, BlackboardEats quickly won over fans (we count ourselves among them) with generous discounts to buzzworthy restaurants: Cacao Mexicatessen, Mo-Chica, Tinga and many more. Those days are over. Sort-of.
BlackboardEats yesterday informed subscribers that its coupons, which were free, would now cost $1 each. Alternately, users could pay a flat $20 annual fee for unlimited coupons.
We always liked BlackboardEats as an alternative to behemoth Groupon, which just completed a $950 million round of financing. Where BBE focuses exclusively on restaurants, Groupon features everything from massages and dental services to museum visits and haircuts. The restaurants it does feature are generally mediocre (though we have seen a few good ones). Most importantly, Groupon charges an up-front fee for its daily deals. After a few experiences racing to restaurants to use a coupon before it expired, we mostly swore off Groupon.
Even though the BlackboardEats coupons are a good deal even with the $1 surcharge, we can't get over the psychological hurdle of paying an up-front fee. There's no good reason for it. We just can't.
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What do you think: Will people pony up for the coupons or will it erode BBE's user-base?