Bell Canada slammed with hefty fine for posting fake Play Store reviews
Canadian telecom company Bell has been fined a hefty $1.25 million CAD (~$970K USD) by Canada’s Competition Bureau for posting fake application reviews on the App Store and Google Play Store. Apparently, a handful of Bell employees were encouraged to post positive reviews and ratings of the MyBell Mobile and Virgin My Account apps in Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store, without mentioning that they worked for Bell. The ratings have since been removed by the Canadian company, but Canada’s Competition Bureau decided that the damage was already done.
But how did Bell get caught? The company’s rogue behavior was first discovered by Scott Stratten, who was already well aware of the applications’ poor ratings in the app stores. Then out of the blue, the apps began rising in the ranks thanks to the 5-star reviews, and Stratten got curious. After doing some digging on LinkedIn, he discovered that the majority of the reviews were made by Marketing Managers, IT Executives and Project Managers from Bell.
In a statement, Paolo Pasquini, director of communications and social media for Bell, told The Globe and Mail:
The postings were the result of an overzealous effort on the part of our service team to highlight the app. 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.
Aside from the fine, Bell has agreed to “enhance and maintain it’s corporate compliance program,” with a specific focus on prohibiting the rating of its own applications. Bell will also host and sponsor a workshop to promote and discuss “Canadians’ trust in the digital economy,” which will include talks on the integrity of online reviews.