AMEX, or American Express has been fined by the Information Commissioners Office for sending more than four million marketing emails to customers who did not want them and found them to be a nuisance.

The ICO started to receive complaints from American Express customers that the firm were sending unwanted emails to customers who had opted out of receiving them. Under law if a customer asks not to be contacted and company continues to do so the ICO can fine them.

The ICO began investigating these complaints and found that AMEX had sent more than 50 million emails that the company classed as ‘servicing emails’ to customers. They found that between June 2018 and may 2019, over 4 million of those emails were for purposes of marketing which advertised the benefits of their services. But the investigation discovered that these emails were sent to customers who had opted out from receiving them and by sending emails to people who did not give their consent, AMEX had violated the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations.

ICO head of investigations said: “This is a clear example of a company getting it wrong and now facing the reputational consequences of that error.

“The emails in question all clearly contained marketing material, as they sought to persuade and encourage customers to use their card to make purchases. Amex’s arguments, which included, that customers would be disadvantaged if they weren’t aware of campaigns, and that the emails were a requirement of its Credit Agreements with customers, were groundless.

“Our investigation was initiated from just a handful of complaints from customers, tired of being interrupted with emails they did not want to receive. I would encourage all companies to revisit their procedures and familiarise themselves with the differences between a service email and a marketing email, and ensure their email communications with customers are compliant with the law.”

The ICO can impose large fines on companies who violate these regulations and continue to contact people who have specifically requested not to receive any type of unsolicited contact. They can impose fine of up to £500,000, however in this instance the ICO fined AMEX £90,000 as they say the company did not deliberately set out to contravene regulations, but still should be held accountable for this violation.

On their website the ICO encourages members of the public to report such instances such as these and say if you believe you have been the victim of a marketing email or nuisance calls and texts then to report it to them through their website, which you can do here: Nuisance calls and messages | ICO