You know the people. They stand – rain or shine – in front of the Michigan Union or in the middle of the Diag, mostly during the first few weeks of each semester. As you walk by, they hand you a coupon book.
Companies like Campus Coupons and Sports Guide, an Ann Arbor-based distribution company, pay employees about $8 an hour to hand out the coupon books.
Al Skinner, distribution director of Sports Guide, said the pay isn’t great, but the company is doing a service to the community by hiring people who typically have trouble finding jobs.
“We try to hire people who have just gotten out of rehab or people who want to better themselves in some way,” Skinner said.
Sports Guide Inc. usually stations four or five employees on campus at a time. Each distributor can hand out 2,000 coupon books on a busy day, Skinner said.
The books usually include coupons for local businesses trying to attract customers. The books are targeted at college students, Skinner said.
Many include discounts on food, clothes and books.
While some students find the coupons useful, others said they find the coupon dealers annoying.
LSA freshman Mary Rose Giles said she only takes coupon books because she feels obligated to do so.
“It’s their job,” Giles said. “I’ve used one or two coupons in the past, but I usually end up with five or six coupon books piled up on my desk.”
Some students refuse to accept the books, though.
“I don’t want more paper that I won’t end up using,” said LSA sophomore Lindsey Kappler. “They might as well keep the coupon book and give it to someone who actually wants it.”
Sports Guides was founded by University alum David DeVarti in 1981. He decided to start the company after another coupon service left Ann Arbor the year he graduated.
Campus Coupons is based in Seattle and distributes books to schools across the country.