Dionne's Psychic Friends Go Under

Parent company of prognosticating phone pals amasses $26 mil debt, files Chapter 11

By Marcus Errico Feb 05, 1998 8:30 PMTags
The Psychic Friends Network is busted. The parent company of the Dionne Warwick's prognosticatin' phone line filed for Chapter 11 bankrupcty protection earlier this week, claiming it has some $26 million worth of red ink and only $1.2 million in assets.

Um, shouldn't they have seen this coming?

Inphomation Communication Inc., the Baltimore company that pretty much pioneered the proliferation of 900 numbers, will be allowed under federal law to continue its operations and reorganize its bankbook while postponing the payment of its massive debts.

Born in 1990 and grown fat on Warwick's half-hour infomercial pitches, Psychic Friends boasted a staff of 2,000 chummy fortune tellers all only a two-buck phone call away. (In fact, the Warwick ads once ranked second only to Jane Fonda's spots pitching her exercise video in terms of infomercial grosses.)

Within a few years, Inphomation's haul was in the $100-125 million range, according to industry estimates. But in the past two years, profits plunged to the $25 million mark, Steve Dworman, publisher of the L.A.-based Infomercial Marketing Report, tells Associated Press.

He blames a glut of similar pay-per-prediction chat lines (such as LaToya Jackson's) and mismanagement by company owner Michael Lasky for Inphomation's bottom line bottoming out.

"They apparently made some bad decisions, and a couple of things happened that hey had no control over," James Olson, a lawyer for Inphomation, tells AP.

Adds Dworman: "All this could have been avoided if [Lasky] called his own psychic lines."