Entertainment Book Filed For Bankruptcy

Update: Entertainment has asked me to pass along that they have resumed operations (click here for their press release), and that merchants are expected to continue honoring their coupons until the expiration date.  Thanks to Jennie at Entertainment for finding my post and passing along the information.  Best of luck to her and the rest of the workers as the company works through this!

I’m from the Detroit area, so this got quite a bit of news coverage: The Entertainment Book, known for its coupons on a variety of dining establishments, stores, and other services, abruptly shut down a couple of weeks ago.  Unsuspecting employees showed up to work only to find that they were ceasing operations, and everybody was sent home.  No severance, no benefits, nothing.  The company was filing for bankruptcy and that was that.

mb-enter201304The reason that made such big news around here is that the headquarters are in Troy, a suburb that lies about 20 miles outside of Detroit.  The headquarters employed roughly 240 people, all who were suddenly out of a job.

My mother-in-law used to work at a company that shut down a few years back. She was close with someone in the office that, after that company closed, went to work for Entertainment.  Sure enough, she put a Facebook post up the day of the closure and it was not a happy post.

My wife and I have always purchased a copy of the book.  Generally, someone we know sells the book as a fundraiser for their church, school, or other organization.  Typically the price was somewhere in the neighborhood of $20-25.

When we first started dating, my wife and I would go out quite regularly and there were a lot of places in the book that matched up pretty well, and the deals were pretty good.  Most restaurants offered a buy-one-get-one free deal.  Even though most limited the offer no more than $10 per pop, it didn’t take more than a couple of uses before you got your money back on the purchase, and we went out often enough that we ‘made’ our money back many times over.

After we got married, we started going out less regularly, mostly because we had bought a bigger house, and had more expenses.

After my wife left the workforce in preparation of becoming a stay-at-home mom, we cut back even further.  After the birth of our son (and then our daughter), a lot of the bar type restaurants that were perfectly fine for adults only, became crossed off the list.

All told, our use of the book diminished rapidly, so the past couple of years, we’ve often ‘split the cost’ with someone, and while we still got value, it wasn’t like in the past.

We’ve also noticed that as the economy has improved the last couple of years, many of the restaurants made their coupons less appealing.  A pizza place used to offer $5 off any size pizza, and changed it to $4 off of their large pizza only.  Many restaurants made you buy two beverages in order to get the coupon.  We typically get water when we dine out, so even on a $10 coupon, that generally made it worth only about $5 to us.

Even before the bankruptcy, we had been talking about this potentially being our last year of buying the book.  Now, it looks like that decision won’t be a decison.

Are current coupons Entertainment still good?

The question that many people asked, myself included, was whether the current coupons would be good.  Since their website gives no indication that anything is amiss (it appears business as usual, so my guess is they fired the web designer along with everybody else), you can’t get any answers from the company.  Only one news report actually gave any information about this, and even that was vague.  It basically said that when the company filed for bankruptcy, it made null and void any contracts, meaning that participating restaurants and other businesses could opt out of accepting them with no penalty or legal recourse.  It was suggested that many will continue to honor the coupons through the expiration date (November 1st) and that you should call beforehand to find out.

I thought about calling, but quite honestly, I will only do so if we plan on actually using one.  I guess my thought is that many providers might not have registered the news, and why tip them off and give them cause to think about changing their policy?

For us, it wasn’t as sad news as this would have been a few years ago.  My guess is that competition from other deal opportunities, such as Groupon and Living Social, made their model a little stale.  Add to the fact that those newer companies can deliver their product without the overhead of printing and distributing big paper books, and it’s easy to see why Entertainment Book didn’t make it.

Do you have a current Entertainment book?  Have you tried using any coupons over the past few weeks?

21 thoughts on “Entertainment Book Filed For Bankruptcy”

  1. I’m kind of shocked. But maybe not that surprised given the growing number of deal companies out there. There’s a lot of other coupon book companies now, plus Groupon style services. My experience with these services is that sometimes they offer great deals on great companies. But a lot of times it’s a mediocre deal and/or a mediocre company.

  2. I didn’t get one this year, but I have to say, out of all of the different school fundraisers, this was one of the few I felt I could actually use.

    Ironically enough, thought, the last one I got was through a half off the book deal online (I forget what site). My purchasing style is deciding what I want and then finding the best deal on it. Entertainment books seem to be more of looking through general deals before deciding, so it started to not fit for me anymore (I stopped eating out as much as well).

    I certainly feel bad for the employees of the company.

    • Yes, that was pretty tough to hear when you heard how many people lost their jobs that day, probably none who knew it was coming.

  3. We have a deal book that is similar and we used it a lot this year and the end of last year. There are a lot of deals that we wouldn’t use, so we probably wouldn’t get it again. I think the competition is too fierce for a print edition to stay open long. It is the nature of changing technology and consumer demands. It is unfortunate none the less.

    • Very true. I hadn’t considered how things can change so quickly to where a printed book might not fulfill the needs of a business or allow them to be responsive to something as quickly as they might need. Things move so fast now!

  4. Locally, we have a coupon mass mailing that is separate from the local newspapers. After many uses, I found that the ”special deals” were often specials already offered on a daily basis. I wonder how many of the items listed in the book you used will now become the same type of offerings?

    • Good point. It will be a matter of hunting them down, should the businesses still decide to offer the deals in some fashion.

  5. That’s too bad, especially for the employees. We used the book all the time growing up and usually were able to find some pretty good deals. It’s not used as much in our area, so that’s probably why I have not heard about it yet.

  6. I saw the report last week when this happened and the first thing I said to my husband was that this probably happened because of things like Groupon. I’ve only ever purchased one of their books in my lifetime and that was in 2000. And even then I barely found it useful for our city.

  7. We usually buy a local version that the basketball team sells. My problem is forgetting to use the coupons, although we actually did use one for a free appetizer this weekend. I can see how online sites make it hard for actual paper books. Kind of like the phone book, I guess.

    • Very true. Our kids won’t know what a phone book is, now they won’t know what an Entertainment book is as well!

  8. That’s unfortunate, especially for the employees. The Detroit area has had more than enough troubles already as well.

    From a business perspective, times do change. It’s about online business now.

  9. We use to buy the EB. When we use to travel to cities like Chicago or Grand Rapids several times a year, it was great to have those. We’d make up the cost of the book right back in our first visit.

    I believe they had an online version that you could use for pretty much any city if you had bought a local book. I don’t think they advertised or utilized that portion very well. And again, with all the competition it would probably be hard to maintain that part of the their business model since the other sites were free.

  10. I hadn’t heard about this yet, so thanks for the heads up. We bought an Entertainment book for 2005, 2007, 2008, and 2010…apparently we aren’t the only ones that stopped. I feel for the employees – that is an awful way to be let go.

  11. Wow! That’s a shocker. My office was in Troy, and we used to use those coupon books for lunches in the area all the time. There’s nothing similar that I’m aware of in Texarkana, so we dodged that bullet….

  12. We used to get the Entertainment book each year because they had a coupon each month for the grocery store we frequented. But once they discontinued that coupon series, it wasn’t really worth it for us to buy the book any more. We found that we could get good deals on restaurants using sites like Groupon instead.

    • It’s always a bummer to see when a place you like no longer participates. I can’t recall seeing a grocery store coupon. That must have been a big one, considering the rarity!

  13. I am employee of Entertainment and we are excited to announce that we have resumed operations as a going concern on 3/27, after filing a chapter 7 bankruptcy petition earlier. During this time, we will to continue to serve our consumers, merchants, partners and vendors, pending our sale, which is expected to occur on or about 4/22. There is a press release on our website with details.

    Click on the link below.
    https://member.entertainment.com:443/custom/save/now/jsp/content/pages/login.epi;jsessionid=zeOsFpXff5u-IU59pGpoCQ**.catalyst3

    Also, merchants should still be honoring the coupons as long as the expiration date is still valid. This is similar to any other type of advertising or promotion they have committed to. If you run across a merchant that is not honoring, please let us know by completing this form. https://shop.entertainment.com/

    • That’s great news! I will update the post to note this information. I’m sure my readers will be glad to know this. I’m glad to know I don’t have to call around to businesses to ensure that they plan on accepting the coupons.

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