Bell Agrees To $1.25 Million Fine After Fake Company App Reviews

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Signage is displayed outside of a BCE Inc. Bell Canada store in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on Aug. 8, 2012. BCE Inc., Canada?s second-largest wireless carrier, topped second-quarter profit estimates and increased its annual forecast after adding more smartphone subscribers on lucrative long-term contracts. | Bloomberg via Getty Images
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OTTAWA — Bell Canada has reached a deal with the federal Competition Bureau involving the anonymous posting of favourable reviews of company apps by Bell employees.

Under the deal, in which Bell also agreed to a $1.25-million administrative penalty, the company has "affirmed its commitment not to direct, encourage or incentivize its employees or contractors to rate, rank or review apps in app stores,'' the bureau said Wednesday.

The issue came to light in November 2014 when certain Bell employees were encouraged to post positive reviews and ratings of the free MyBell Mobile app and Virgin My Account app on the iTunes App Store and the Google Play Store.

They did so without disclosing that they worked for Bell, the bureau said.

The apps allow Bell customers to manage existing mobility accounts directly from their mobile devices.

In announcing the agreement, the bureau praised Bell's top management for having acted quickly to have the reviews and ratings removed "as soon as it became aware of the matter.''

"Nevertheless, the bureau determined that these 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,'' it said.

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