Last fall it was revealed Bell employees had been posting positive “reviews” and ratings online for the company’s MyBell Mobile and Virgin My Account apps in the App Store and on Google Play. At the time, Bell said “The postings were the result of an overzealous effort on the part of our service team to highlight the app.”
The Competition Bureau looked into the matter and today announced it had reached an agreement with Bell over its actions online. The Bureau concluded the “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.”
Bell “provided full, timely and ongoing co-operation” with the inquiry, and has signed a consent agreement with the Competition Tribunal, agreeing 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.
On top of the agreement, Bell said it would sponsor and host a workshop to “discuss and enhance Canadians’ trust in the digital economy, including the integrity of online reviews.”
John Pecman, Commissioner of Competition, said in a statement “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.”
What do you think about the outcome of this inquiry? (Note to self: never trust online reviews, ever again.)