Tag Archives: Koodo

Chatr and the fake mobile competitors

Rogers yesterday launched a new wireless “brand” called Chatr, which is being rolled out in several Canadian cities and is supposed to come to Montreal soon.

The launch has caused some ruckus because its pricing plan is seen as targeting one of the new wireless competitors just starting up. Mobilicity, which says Rogers is using predatory pricing to drive it out of the marketplace, says it will take legal action.

I’m no mobile pricing expert, but $45 for unlimited talk and text doesn’t seem unfair to me. And bringing everyone’s prices down was the entire point of having new entrants into the wireless market, no? (Admittedly, the fact that Chatr is available only in the largest cities is kind of suspicious since it uses the Rogers network.)

What bothers me about this launch isn’t the fact that it’s competing with other wireless providers, it’s that Rogers is doing its best to fool people into thinking the service has nothing to do with Rogers.

Take a look at the press release. The word “Rogers” doesn’t appear anywhere. It makes a vague reference to “a trusted network”, but no mention of what network that is. The blurb “about chatr wireless” also makes no reference to Rogers, making it seem as if this is an independent company.

Same thing on the website (which is neither chatr.com nor chatr.ca, meaning Rogers has picked this stupid name without even getting the benefit of the stupid name domain name). Not on its frequently asked questions page, its coverage page, or its “about chatr” page. This isn’t just being forgetful or not wanting to draw attention to something. There’s a serious effort here to hide the fact that Rogers is behind this brand.

They’re all doing it

This is nothing new. When Koodo launched in 2008, Telus did everything it could to hide the fact that they were behind it. The word “Telus” doesn’t appear on Koodo’s “About Us” page or coverage page either. You have to go to the fine print of the privacy policy, and read its fine print to see them say that Koodo is actually a division of Telus.

Virgin Mobile Canada makes it seem as if they’re owned by Virgin Group, but in fact it’s owned by Bell Mobility, a name that appears nowhere on their website.

Of the virtual brands, only Solo Mobile (Bell) and Fido (Rogers) make it clear who they’re owned by.


Let’s count that, by the way. Eight mobile brands run by three companies. And I’m not counting the weird stuff involving third parties like Petro Canada Mobility or President’s Choice Telecom. While most companies think of centralization and imposing a national brand on its subsidiaries, Canada’s wireless companies do the opposite.

When your reputation as an industry is so shattered that you have to create fake competition to appeal to a large segment of the population that hates you, and then when that doesn’t work you create a second fake competitor … honestly, I don’t know what to say.

The worst part is that Canada’s Big Three wireless companies don’t think this explosion of “brands” is evidence of a larger problem.

Koodo: We don’t mean what we say in our ads

Paul Jay at CBCNews.ca called Koodo out over the fact that they call fixed-term contracts and system access fees “sleazy” in an ad when Telus, which owns Koodo, has fixed-term contracts and charges system access fees.

A day later, Koodo responded, saying they don’t really mean that the others are “sleazy” but they just needed to attract people’s attention in the ad:

I don’t think here we have any belief that there is anything really being done by any of the other carriers to trick or to be sleazy…

So there you go. Don’t believe Koodo’s ads, because Koodo doesn’t even believe them.

Koodo using crappy game to get attention

Interactive Koodo ad at Peel metro

Interactive Koodo ad at Peel metro

Last weekend, some metro station platform ads were replaced by a television screen inviting people to “train” with some Koodo-branded games. Koodo, you’ll recall, is the Telus-owned “discount” cellphone service which competes with Rogers’s Fido and Bell’s Solo Mobile services. It unexplicably uses cheesy 80s workout clichés as the basis for its branding.

A user interacts with a Koodo ad at Berri-UQAM metro station

A user interacts with a Koodo ad at Berri-UQAM metro station

Lo and behold, it worked. People on a metro platform waiting for a train are a notoriously bored bunch (even if they’re in a hurry). Shiny things with buttons will quickly find people willing to press them.

Unfortunately, the games themselves weren’t that good. In fact, one wasn’t even a game, it was just a menu filled with information about Koodo’s cellphone plans. The only actual “game” is a Where’s Waldo-style search game that requires the user to “scroll” through the map because it doesn’t all fit on the screen.

The game had clearly not been usability tested, because I couldn’t figure out how the scrolling worked. Tapping near the corner caused it to slowly scroll in that direction by about an inch. Dragging a finger toward the corner caused the screen to quickly scroll in that direction and then quickly scroll back. Dragging a finger away from the corner caused about the same thing to happen. (UPDATE Aug. 27: I’m not the only one to notice this failure.)


Unexpected click gives a 404 error

Unexpected click gives a 404 error

I’m not quite sure how I did this, but I somehow created a new tab in Internet Explorer (which this apparently runs on) and sent it to a page which doesn’t exist.

Closeup of Koodo ad 404 error

Closeup of Koodo ad 404 error

So apparently these ads are running on Windows servers using a two-year-old version of the Apache web server. (On the plus side, the system resets itself after a minute or two of inactivity)

I have to give Koodo credit for this one. After all, I’m blogging about it, which was the point. But it doesn’t make me want to get a Koodo phone plan any more.