Rogers’ “Fewer Dropped Calls” Ads Violate False Advertising Rules, Competition Bureau Says

by Istvan Fekete on May 15, 2013

When it claimed “fewer dropped calls” compared to its startup wireless rivals back in 2010 at the launch of its Chatr discount service, Rogers violated Canada’s false-advertising rules.

The argument comes from a federal Competition Bureau lawyer, Tom Curry, who described some of the Rogers ads during a Toronto trial on Monday. From the Bureau’s perspective, the ads showing frustrated people who got cut off during a call in contrast to smiling Chatr customers continuing their calls suggest a “meaningful” difference in dropped calls.

“None of that is actually true,” Mr. Curry said, arguing that even in places where data suggest Chatr did have fewer dropped calls, the difference is tiny – as little as one dropped call in 500 calls.

“The differences are not significant in many, or most cases,” he told court. “Those images are significant. They create a general impression of a strong and meaningful difference in the level of service.”

The Bureau’s main point is that Rogers cannot back up its claims about “fewer dropped calls”, as there are no “adequate and proper tests”. In other words, these ads are false and misleading, and part of an aggressive marketing campaign characteristic of the battle between the incumbents and wireless startups who entered the market in 2008.

Of course, there is a big disagreement between the two parties about the truth factor of these ads: Rogers claims the ads are “unquestionably true and correct”. They back up their claim saying it conducted industry-standard “drive tests” that involved making calls on competitors’ networks from specially equipped trucks.

On the other hand, the Competition Bureau strongly disagrees with the interpretation of these tests, and pointed to network data extracted from cellphone companies’ computers, which it says are more accurate. And the data sheds light on the real face of the network’s performance.

What is interesting is that Rogers immediately withdrew the ads when the Competition Bureau raised objections.

From Rogers’ perspective — and I think this is a no-brainer — those seriously misleading customers are the competition.

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Written by: Istvan Fekete. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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