The UK's Information Commissioner's Office has fined American Express £90,000 for sending more than four million marketing emails to customers who did not want to receive them.
The ICO began investigating when it received complaints from Amex customers who continued to be bombarded with emails despite having opted out from them. The messages spelled out details on the rewards of shopping online with Amex; getting the most out of using the card and encouraging customers to download the Amex app.
Amex had rejected its customers’ complaints saying the spam were servicing emails - which tend to contain routine information such as changes to terms and conditions and payment plans or notice of service interruptions - and not marketing.
During the investigation the ICO found that Amex had sent over 50 million, of what it classed as, servicing emails to its customers. The watchdog revealed that for nearly 12 months, between 1 June 2018 and 21 May 2019, 4,098,841 of those emails were marketing emails, designed to encourage customers to make purchases on their cards which would benefit Amex financially.
It was a deliberate action for financial gain by the organisation, says Andy Curry, ICO head of investigations.
“The emails in question all clearly contained marketing material, as they sought to persuade and encourage customers to use their card to make purchases," he says. "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."