Bell faces $1.25M fine for fake reviews

bellBell Canada is facing a $1.25 million fine after company employees were caught downloading its free apps and posting above-average ratings and reviews online.

The penalty, handed down by the Canadian Competition Bureau, also included an order for Bell 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.”

The activities date back to late 2014 when the Competition Bureau says Bell employees were encouraged to download two free apps, MyBell Mobile and Virgin My Account, from iTunes or the Google Play Store. Employees were subsequently asked to give positive reviews without disclosing they work for Bell. The company took down the reviews once the Bureau became aware of the situation that December.

In the aftermath of this scandal, Bell will also sponsor a workshop to promote and examine trust in the digital economy and the integrity of online reviews.

“I am pleased that Bell Canada demonstrated leadership to fully resolve the Competition Bureau’s concerns in this matter,” Commissioner of Competition John Pecman, was quoted as saying in a Financial Post article. “I commend the shared compliance approach taken by Bell to resolve this matter, which will benefit both consumers and the digital marketplace.”