Pizza Franchisees Say Chain Owners Took Groupon Money But Didn’t Share

Back in August, the owners of New England’s Upper Crust chain of pizzerias ran two offers on Groupon, selling more than 6,000 $12 vouchers that could be redeemed for $25 in food. But some franchisees who run independently own Upper Crust stores say they were not told in advance about the Groupons and that they never saw a lick of that cash.

The problem is compounded by the fact that Upper Crust, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in October, was ordered to close all 10 of its company-owned restaurants on Monday night.

For the owners of franchised restaurants, which are still open and are not part of the bankruptcy, they have had to tell customers they can no longer honor the Groupon vouchers because they allege they haven’t been reimbursed the $9 per voucher they were promised, and now feel like they have little hope of recovering the cash.

“This has left us in a deficit of approximately $23,000 in product for Groupons that we have already redeemed,” the owner of an Upper Crust in West Roxbury, MA, wrote on Facebook. “For this reason, we obviously cannot accept any more Groupons and customers with coupons can call the customer support office… and receive a refund.”

The owner of franchises in Newburyport, MA, and Portsmouth, NH, claims to be out $50,000 because of the Groupon deal.

“Our stores honored these vouchers for several weeks, trusting that Upper Crust would eventually send us the funds,” he tells the Boston Globe. “However, they declared bankruptcy and we realized that the money paid for these vouchers was gone.”

One franchisee in Plymouth, MA, did receive some money from Upper Crust HQ for the Groupon vouchers. However, that restaurant acknowledges that it had fewer customers trying to redeem the vouchers than the other independently owned stores.

Thanks to Christine for the tip!