Bell Employees Caught Planting Glowing App Store Reviews [u]


If you are a Bell employee, you cannot write customer reviews about Bell, the company warned its staffers. The message comes after employees were discovered writing reviews of the MyBell Mobile app in the App Store, reports the Globe and Mail.

“Surprisingly”, some of the reviews were associated with Mike McEnery, a Bell associate director; Steph Steen, a marketing manager; Charbel Nassif, a performance manager; among others, as highlighted by Scott Stratten, founder of UnMarketing.

If you are assuming these were negative reviews, well, you should think again: The five-star reviews somewhat contrasted with the one- and two-star reviews posted by other users, which called the app “shameful”.

“The postings were the result of an overzealous effort on the part of our service team to highlight the app,” Paolo Pasquini, director of communications and social media, wrote in an e-mail. “It’s certainly not Bell’s practice to encourage employees to rate our products, and we’re sending a clear message out to the team to that effect.”

CBC News asked Bell if any staff members had ever before written positive reviews about a company product online without disclosing their affiliation. The company did not respond.

David Christopher from watchdog organization OpenMedia said “It really speaks, I think, to Bell’s lack of respect for their own customers that they would do something like this,” speaking to CBC News. When asked if Bell employees had written glowing reviews online about a company product before without revealing their affiliation, the company did not comment.

You may recall that five-star reviews were suspect not just to us, but to Apple as well, so the company went after fake reviews earlier this year, as reported by TechCrunch. The practice is called “astroturfing”, and they seem to be more common than regular users realize.

Bell’s case is somewhat different: Its employees somehow failed to mask themselves, and used their real names or initials and last names. As a result, the carrier is now warning employees to stay away from such forms of advertising.