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Bell to pay $1.25-million penalty for fake reviews


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BCE Inc. has agreed to pay a $1.25-million penalty after the company’s staffers wrote online reviews of Bell products and services without disclosing their ties to Bell. It is the first penalty of its kind imposed by the Competition Bureau in response to deceptive online reviews.

The decision is part of an agreement the company has reached with Canada’s Competition Bureau, affirming “its commitment not to direct, encourage or incentivize employees or contractors to rate, rank or review apps in app stores.” The penalty for these types of reviews sends a strong signal to the industry, that marketers will be expected to police deceptive practises and make employees aware of the standards that exist in online marketing.

The Competition Bureau began looking into the matter after Bell confirmedthat some of its employees were “overzealous” in posting reviews for Bell Canada’s “MyBell Mobile” application on the Apple AppStore. Scott Stratten, author and founder of Oakville, Ont.-based firm Unmarketing, was the first to notice the reviews, which were posted under the names of some Bell employees but did not disclose their corporate affiliation. Mr. Stratten pointed this out on his blog. According to the Competition Bureau, other reviews were also posted of Bell’s Virgin My Account application, and were posted in the Google Play Store as well as the AppStore.

“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 to The Globe and Mail last November. “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.”

The reviews posted by the employees were all extremely positive.

Link to article: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/industry-news/marketing/bell-to-pay-125-million-penalty-for-fake-reviews/article26806629/

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