Peter Sharkey: Why it doesn’t always pay to unsubscribe from email newsletters

PUBLISHED: 09:49 13 July 2012

Peter Sharkey

Peter Sharkey


I seem to have spent much of the past week ‘unsubscribing’ from newsletters and offers regularly sent via email by companies with whom I may once have registered in order to access their website.

There are dozens of them, most of which, until now, went directly into my email junk or were automatically deleted.

Apparently, regular internet users register with an average of four websites a month and simultaneously agree, knowingly or otherwise, to receive marketing literature. The most annoying emails are those you receive from outfits that have bought your address.

This invariably results in a flurry of communications advising how you can lose a stone by eating nothing but chocolate for a fortnight, or else urging you to invest £2,000 and be guaranteed a return of £25,000 within three months.

Does anyone ever fall for this nonsense?

But why, you may ask, if the mountain of unwanted emails head directly to my junk or are deleted, would I want to waste time unsubscribing?

The answer is simple: roving charges applied to my smartphone.

Last week, I received the bill covering one 10-day period the previous month when we were away on holiday and those unwanted emails kept slamming into my inbox with irritating frequency. It’s a good job we don’t live in mainland Europe. While my phone contract gives me unlimited talk time and emails when I’m in the UK, once I set foot outside, I’m giving a considerable boost to my phone company’s profits in the form of roving charges. Or I was.

Just prior to unsubscribing from a usually reliable source, I read what appeared to be some of the most spurious statistics I’ve seen in a long time. It described a company boasting a 28pc annual return on investment and an attractive dividend yield which has grown annually since 1952. This wildly-exaggerated claim looked like one of those grammatically-challenged missives imploring you extend £5,000 to a poor soul currently resident in Lagos and he will cut you in on a £25m bounty your cash will enable him to secure.

However, closer examination showed the email content was, indeed, credible.

Who would buy shares in a pub group right now? Running a successful alehouse always looks like very hard work to me, but it appears that Greene King have got matters right after experiencing an awkward credit crunch-induced time a couple of years ago. They’ve done this by attracting more diners (food sales account for almost 40pc of revenue) and by smartening up their premises, so moving them more upmarket.

Greene King’s bosses claim they saw a 28pc profit on the £27m spent improving their pubs’ appearance last year, an impressive, if unsustainable, return. The company’s shares presently yield a comfortably covered 4.3pc, and investors wanting to capture a chunk of this year’s payment should note that they go ex-dividend on August 8 (the gross payment is 18.1p per share).

Greene King’s share price has moved sideways within a relatively narrow price band since late 2008. However, the ongoing improvements to its estate, coupled with a willing-ness to improve their offering to drinkers and diners alike, ensures that the company which sent me details of Greene King’s performance will definitely not be ‘unsubscribed’ from my incoming emails.

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