October 14, 2015 — OTTAWA, ON — Competition Bureau
As part of an agreement reached with the Competition Bureau, Bell Canada (Bell) has affirmed its commitment not to direct, encourage or incentivize its employees or contractors to rate, rank or review apps in app stores.
In November 2014, certain Bell employees were encouraged to post positive reviews and ratings of the free MyBell Mobile app and Virgin My Account app on the iTunes App Store and the Google Play Store, without disclosing that they work for Bell. Bell acted quickly to have the reviews and ratings removed as soon as it became aware of the matter. Nevertheless, the Bureau determined that these reviews and ratings created the general impression that they were made by independent and impartial consumers and temporarily affected the overall star rating for the apps. The apps allow Bell customers to manage their existing mobility accounts directly from their mobile devices.
Bell provided full, timely and ongoing co-operation with the Bureau’s inquiry.
Under the consent agreement registered with the Competition Tribunal, Bell has also agreed to:
- enhance and maintain its corporate compliance program, with a specific focus on prohibiting the rating, ranking or reviewing of apps in app stores by employees and contractors; and
- pay an administrative monetary penalty of $1,250,000.
In addition to the consent agreement, Bell has indicated that it will sponsor and host a workshop to promote, discuss and enhance Canadians’ trust in the digital economy, including the integrity of online reviews.
"I am pleased that Bell Canada demonstrated leadership to fully resolve the Competition Bureau’s concerns in this matter. Bell’s senior management acted quickly to remove the reviews of the apps that had been posted by its employees and has taken steps to prevent it from happening again. I commend the shared compliance approach taken by Bell to resolve this matter, which will benefit both consumers and the digital marketplace."
Impartial consumer reviews on digital platforms benefit both consumers and businesses. Unbiased reviews can provide a wealth of product information to help consumers make informed decisions. On the other hand, reviews that are not independent can negatively impact consumers and competition in the marketplace. Consumers who have information about such reviews should contact the Bureau's Information Centre at 1-800-348-5358 or visit the Bureau's website to file a complaint.
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The Competition Bureau, as an independent law enforcement agency, ensures that Canadian businesses and consumers prosper in a competitive and innovative marketplace.