Spam for lunch? Might not be as bad as you think.
"I get so many junk e-mails trying to sell me stuff and so many forwards that I usually delete most of them without even reading them," said Erica Brown of Scottsdale.
So when a friend asked her if she’d joined LunchClub.net, she didn’t know what she was talking about.
"She was like, ‘I forwarded you an e-mail about it,’ " Brown said. "She re-sent the e-mail and made sure I read it."
Since then, Brown joined the Mesa-based Internet club that has grown to more than 30,000 members thanks to strong word of mouth.
The free service is simple. You log onto LunchClub.net, join the club, tell them where you work, then you get an email every morning with a special from a restaurant located near your place of business.
"People are always asking where they should go for lunch," said William Carey, who launched LunchClub.net in February of 2000. "There’s no catch to it. We just answer the question, ‘What’s for lunch?’ Plus, we give them a coupon that gives them a discount and who doesn’t want to save money when they eat out?"
Carey said LunchClub.net tries to keep the coupons more than 15 percent off.
"We try to get our members the best coupons possible," he said. "Sometimes, the special is buy one get one free. Typically, the coupons are for 20 to 50 percent off your bill and are usually good for a week."
To keep the service free for members, Carey charges the restaurants a fee to distribute their coupons.
"We work with hundreds of restaurants all over the Valley," Carey said. "We’ve developed the computer technology that makes sure people don’t get the same specials all the time. Our goal is to guide our members to a variety of good restaurants that are close to them and give them good specials every day."
Depending on what the specials are, Tracey Mogavero of Mesa said she uses her LunchClub.net coupons at least once or twice a week.
"I always use the Lombardi’s coupons because they have the best Philly cheesesteak sandwiches," said Mogavero, who works in downtown Phoenix. "And I just turned my Quiznos guy onto LunchClub.net, so he’s offering coupons now."
To expand the savings for East Valley consumers, Carey put together the first Lunch-Club Coupon book. The book, which sells for $29.95 and benefits the Arizona division of Prevent Blindness America, contains more than 1,000 buy one get one free restaurant coupons.