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Blackboard Eats Drops $1 Charge For Access to Deals

Blackboard Eats, the daily email newsletter offering "exclusive deals at the best restaurants" (in LA, SF, NYC, and everywhere), announced today they'll no longer be charging $1 per passcode to access their daily deals. The $1 charge was announced back in January, and did not go over well, especially in the face of heavyweight competitor Groupon and the myriad clones that do not charge fees.

Said the company: "After a recent BlackboardEats survey, subscribers expressed that the $1 fee, introduced to scale the limited quantity of passcodes available, hindered the elegant and easy experience of BlackboardEats’ renowned Specials." Here's the press release:

The People Have Spoken: BlackboardEats Takes $1 Passcode Fee off the Table

Leading Food-Enthusiast Club Reinstates Free Passcodes to Remain the Unprecedented Choice for Top Dining Experiences and Restaurant Deals

LOS ANGELES, Calif., May 19, 2011 –BlackboardEats (www.blackboardeats.com), a free insider’s club for food enthusiasts that provides perks and reviews of handpicked restaurants, announced today that subscribers will no longer be charged a $1 passcode fee for its dining and culinary Specials. In a recent BlackboardEats survey, subscribers expressed that the $1 fee, introduced to scale the limited quantity of passcodes available, hindered the elegant and easy experience of BlackboardEats’ renowned Specials. BlackboardEats subscribers can now reserve their own passcode for free to enjoy any of BlackboardEats’ insider perks.

“Our core mission is to help diners explore great food without sacrifice or commitment, and we want to remove anything that stands in the way of that," said, Maggie Nemser, BlackboardEats founder, CEO and editor in chief. "In our recent survey, subscribers reported that the $1 fee was getting in the way of the freedom and spontaneity that they love about BlackboardEats. We’re excited to bring back this freedom and spontaneity along with the best restaurant deals, without any sacrifice to our devoted subscribers. Smart companies should be open to making dramatic changes that will make their customers happy."

Starting today, BlackboardEats subscribers can obtain passcodes for any BlackboardEats Special for free with one simple click. To guarantee realistic occupancy expectations, passcodes are limited in quantity and are available up to 24 hours, or until all of the passcodes are reserved. Subscribers with passcodes have 30 to 60 days to enjoy restaurant Specials.

Subscribers who purchased annual memberships will now have special access to the site and specials beyond the 24-hour timeframe. Annual memberships will not be available for purchase at this time.

Live in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, BlackboardEats Specials include secret menu items, complimentary bottles of wine, or 30 percent off meals at top restaurants. Reviews are anonymous and written by some of the food industry’s top reporters and editors. If the dining experience meets or exceeds the editor’s expectations, the company offers the restaurant a free special, comprised of BlackboardEats’ editorial review and an exclusive perk. There is no “pay-for-play” for BlackboardEats features.

Free passcodes for restaurant Specials will soon be available to diners in Chicago as the company will launch it as its fourth market this summer. Adventurous diners can sign up for BlackboardEats’ Chicago edition starting today and will receive the first editorial reviews and insider perks in June 2011.

· All Blackboard Eats Coverage on Eater [-E-]

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