Chatr

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Chatr Mobile
Formerly called
Chatr Wireless
Subsidiary
Industry Mobile virtual network operator
Founded July 28, 2010
Headquarters Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Key people
Garrick Tiplady, Senior Vice President
Products Android smartphone and feature phones
Services GSM, HSPA (including HSPA+), mobile broadband, SMS, telephony
Parent Rogers Communications Inc.
Website ChatrMobile.com

Chatr Mobile (stylized as chatr) is a Canadian mobile virtual network operator owned by Rogers Communications targeting entry-level customers.[1] It is one of three wireless brands owned by Rogers Communications, including Rogers Wireless, and Fido Solutions. The provider launched its service in Toronto, Ottawa, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, Quebec City, and Montréal under the name Chatr Wireless on July 28, 2010.[2] The company re-branded to its current name in 2015.

The carrier initially launched by limiting plan features to only specific regions of Rogers' network, dubbed "chatr zones". The company now offers coverage for most urban areas of Canada[3], and additional plans for certain cities.[4]

Network[edit]

The chatr network includes coverage comparable to other major Canadian wireless carriers.[5] Until 2015, when a Chatr customer left their designated zone, services, such as voice minutes and outgoing texts, were available on a pay-per-use basis. Chatr provided three ways for a customer to find out whether or not they were in a Chatr zone: to dial *#555# and press Send; to check the coverage map;[6] or to check their account balance after making a call. Mobilicity, and Wind Mobile, by contrast, offer more ways for customers to tell if they are in one of their carrier's zones.[7]

In 2015, following the nationwide launch of its competitor Public Mobile as a Telus MVNO, Chatr eliminated its zone concept on most (but not all) plans. "Chatr zones" are now referred to as "local talk zones", which only apply to Chatr's most inexpensive plans (see Services, below).[8] It was also at this time that Chatr formally changed its name from "Chatr Wireless" to "Chatr Mobile".

If a phone call begins in-zone, and the user drives out-of-zone during the call, Chatr considers the entire phone call to be an in-zone call.[9]

While a user is driving and an incoming call is ringing, there is no way to check whether or not the car is in-zone or not. The user may take a chance by accepting the call. Alternatively, the user can let the call go to voicemail, dial *#555#, press Send, then decide whether or not to attempt to return the missed call.

New zone restrictions were added in 2016 for the newly created unlimited data plan limited to Edmonton, Calgary, Toronto, Niagara Falls and Montreal. Unlimited data plan customers had unlimited calling, texting, and 3G data within the "unlimited data zones", while paying per-use for services outside of those zones.[10]

Services[edit]

Chatr offers plans ranging from $20 to $50, some of which include unlimited Canada-wide calling, international SMS texting, and 0.5 GB to 6 GB of data per month.[11]

All Chatr plans include unlimited incoming texts and the Call display, Call waiting, Call forwarding and Group calling features. Features specific to each plan are listed below:

  • The base $20/month "Unlimited Local Talk" plan includes unlimited local calls.
  • The midrange $25/month "Unlimited Province-Wide Talk" plan adds unlimited province-wide calls and 100 sent SMS to Canada, the US, and internationally.
  • The high-end $35/month "Unlimited Canada-wide Talk & International Text" and $45/month "Unlimited Canada/US Talk & International Text" plans, add unlimited Canada-wide calling and unlimited sent SMS to Canada, the US, and internationally. The latter also includes unlimited US-wide calling compared to the previous plan.

Extra charges for additional features in each Chatr plan are as follows:

  • A 25¢ per minute voicemail retrieval charge is charged on the $20 plan, which is waived on other all higher plans.
  • Province-wide or Canada-wide calls cost 25¢ per minute on plans for which it is not included, and US calls cost 20¢ per minute on all except the $45 plan.
  • Outgoing SMS cost 25¢ per message on the $20 plan and for every message sent after the first 100 included in the $25 plan.
  • Mobile broadband can be added to the $25, $35 and $40 plans, in denominations of 500 MB for $10, 1GB for $15, and 2 GB for $25. (The 2 GB add-on is not available with the $25 plan.) Additional data usage cost 5¢ per MB.[12]

MMS picture and video messages are only available with a data add-on, and are not included in any plan.[13] In some cases data and MMS functionality has to be setup manually following account activation.[14]

Products[edit]

Phones[edit]

When Chatr was launched, it initially only sold feature phones. It began introducing smartphones in conjunction with its launch of mobile broadband in 2011, although feature phones continue to make up a significant portion of the company's phone offerings. Additionally, Chatr SIM cards allow other GSM-based handsets to be used.

Currently available devices are made by LG, ZTE, Motorola, and Nokia.[15] Chatr formerly gave each phone a nickname (for example, "The Performer" or "The Steal") until its rebranding in 2015.

SIM cards[edit]

SIM cards from Chatr (available in Mini, Micro, and Nano sizes) are compatible with any GSM or HSPA+ device, such as those designed to be used with Rogers Wireless. This includes devices from Rogers itself, plus its mobile virtual network operators such as Fido and 7-Eleven Speak Out Wireless. Many retailers no longer advertise the $10 Chatr SIM card.

Controversy[edit]

Several controversies regarding Chatr received mainstream media coverage. The company received two accusations of breaching the Competition Act in Canada.

Fighter brand[edit]

Chatr has been accused of violating the Competition Act because it is a fighter brand created by Rogers.[16] Chatr's pricing policy closely reflects that of Mobilicity (later acquired by Rogers in 2015) and Wind Mobile. Mobilicity's chairman, John Bitove, said that "[Rogers is] leveraging the other parts of their business to kill the competition […] If they succeed in killing us off there's no question they'd kill the Chatr brand off".[17]

Advertising claims[edit]

Shortly after its launch, Chatr published many advertisements claiming that their network has “fewer dropped calls than new wireless carriers”. Following a complaint by wireless carriers Wind Mobile and Mobilicity, the Federal Competition Bureau has asked the Ontario Superior Court of Justice under the Misleading Advertising Provisions of the Competition Act to order Rogers to:

  1. Stop Chatr's advertising campaign
  2. Pay a 10-million dollar penalty
  3. Pay restitution to any customers affected by the misleading claim
  4. Send out a corrective notice to inform the public about the issue

The Bureau has accused Rogers of:

  1. using misleading advertising to promote its talk-and-text service Chatr..."
  2. having "...no evidence support[ing] Chatr's claim that their customers will experience fewer dropped calls than they would with new rival wireless carriers..."
  3. directly breaching Section 78 of Misleading Advertising Provisions relating to "False or Misleading Representations and Deceptive Marketing Practices"

According to the Court documents from the preceding, the bureau found that the on average there is no significant difference between the number of dropped calls on Chatr and new carriers. Furthermore, in the cases of Ottawa and Toronto, new carriers experienced slightly fewer dropped calls than did Chatr.[18]

  • Jul 9, 2010: Mobilicity made several claims against Rogers revolving around the upcoming launch of Chatr. “If Rogers launches Chatr in the manner that’s been speculated, it’s clear that the Competition Act will be violated,” John Bitove told reporters from his Toronto office.[19][20]
  • Nov 19, 2010: The Competition Bureau of Canada is seeking a $10-million penalty, the highest possible penalty from the country's largest wireless player after a two-month investigation into claims that Rogers had been making since late July.[21]
  • Aug 19, 2013: The Court dismissed the misleading advertising portion of the case against Rogers.
  • Feb 21, 2014: Court orders $500,000 administrative monetary penalty in Rogers-Chatr matter.[22][23][24]

Advertising[edit]

Chatr Wireless' slogan is "No worries, talk happy." During the Christmas and holiday season, the slogan used instead was "No worries, gift happy." Both resemble the name of the song Don't Worry, Be Happy, and a whistled version of this song is used in Chatr commercials. Since Chatr started offering mobile broadband, the "Now data happy" tagline accompanies any promotional material concerning such services.

The company also gives out various promotional merchandise, including pens, highlighters, mousepads, water bottles, planting seeds and Chatr-branded orange M&M's. Merchandise is given away both to customers and to non-customers as a way to spread the word about the operator.

Previously, Chatr claimed to have "fewer dropped calls than new wireless carriers." However, the company's parent, Rogers, was subject to controversy for this claim. To promote its network, provided by Rogers Wireless, Chatr now claims that they have "great coverage thanks to tons of network sites."

Retail presence[edit]

A sign of Rogers, Fido and Chatr at Shoppers Drug Mart.

Best Buy, Costco, London Drugs, Tbooth, Walmart, WirelessWave and Wireless Etc. sell Chatr prepaid products and top-up cards, as well as inexpensive SIM cards which allows any unlocked GSM phone with 850/1900 mHZ frequency to be activated on the Chatr network. Additionally, Chatr once ran its own self-branded retail stores, consisting of a network of kiosks from which customers could purchase phones, accessories, plans, top-ups, and more. Almost all of these have either closed or have been converted to WOW! mobile boutique stores which provide services for several carriers including Chatr. Earlier, all seven Chatr kiosks in Montreal were converted to Fido kiosks in May 2012. This did not affect third-party retail presence of Chatr in Montreal.[25]

While Shoppers Drug Mart carried only Rogers Wireless prepaid phones at one time, the stores temporarily partnered with the network operator to carry both prepaid and postpaid products and services for Rogers and its two other brands, Fido and Chatr. There was an in-store display, showcasing many of the phones available. As of March 2011, however, Shoppers stores ended their partnership. They only sell prepaid top-up vouchers for these providers.

Chatr offers the least expensive prepaid cellular service option in Canada (Freedom Mobile has a less expensive plan but smaller network coverage area).[26][27]

See also[edit]

Other brands owned by Rogers[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Melanson, Donald (2010-07-02). "Rogers announces plans for budget-minded 'Chatr' wireless brand". Engadget. Retrieved 2010-08-27. 
  2. ^ Mathieu, Emily (2010-07-28). "Mobilicity to take Rogers to court over new discount service". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2010-08-27. 
  3. ^ Mobile, Chatr. "chatr mobile". www.chatrwireless.com. Retrieved 2017-05-21. 
  4. ^ Mobile, Chatr. "Cell Phone Plans | Unlimited Talk | chatr mobile". www.chatrwireless.com. Retrieved 2017-05-21. 
  5. ^ Mobile, Chatr. "chatr mobile". www.chatrwireless.com. Retrieved 2017-05-21. 
  6. ^ MadFerIt2006. "How does one enable only chatr zone coverage". HowardForums Chatr forum. Post 6. Retrieved 2011-07-07. 
  7. ^ nzoka; MadFerIt2006; volodyan. "How does one enable only chatr zone coverage". HowardForums Chatr forum. Posts 1, 6, and 9. Retrieved 2011-07-07. 
  8. ^ chatr wireless - Coverage. Retrieved on July 28, 2016.
  9. ^ "FAQs » Chatr unlimited local talk zone plans". Chatr Mobile. Retrieved 2016-08-04. 
  10. ^ Behar, Rose. "Chatr adds new unlimited data plan for Toronto, Calgary and Edmonton". MobileSyrup. Retrieved July 28, 2016. 
  11. ^ Mobile, Chatr. "Cell Phone Plans | Unlimited Talk | chatr mobile". www.chatrwireless.com. Retrieved 2017-05-21. 
  12. ^ Mobile, Chatr. "Cell Phone Plans - Unlimited Talk - chatr mobile". chatrwireless.com. Retrieved 19 December 2016. 
  13. ^ Mobile, Chatr. "FAQs | chatr mobile". www.chatrwireless.com. Retrieved 2017-05-21. 
  14. ^ Mobile, Chatr. "FAQs | chatr mobile". www.chatrwireless.com. Retrieved 2017-05-21. 
  15. ^ Mobile, Chatr. "Wireless Phones - Cell Phones - chatr mobile". chatrwireless.com. Retrieved 19 December 2016. 
  16. ^ Moretti, Stefania (2010-07-09). "Mobilicity prepared to take legal action over Chatr". Canoe. Retrieved 2010-08-27. 
  17. ^ Marlow, Iain (2010-07-09). "Mobilicity says Roger's chatr may violate Competition Act". FinancialPost.com. Retrieved 2011-06-10. 
  18. ^ Marlow, Iain (2010-11-29). "Comparison of dropped-call data weakens Rogers claims". The Globe & Mail. Retrieved 2010-12-04. 
  19. ^ [1]. Retrieved on May 21, 2017
  20. ^ inc, Canoe. "Mobilicity prepared to take legal action over Chatr". canoe.com. Retrieved 2017-05-21. 
  21. ^ [2] Retrieved on May 21, 2017
  22. ^ Canada, Government of Canada, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, Office of the Deputy Minister, Competition Bureau. "Archived — Court orders $500,000 administrative monetary penalty in Rogers-Chatr matter". www.competitionbureau.gc.ca. Retrieved 2017-05-21. 
  23. ^ Canada, Government of Canada, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, Office of the Deputy Minister, Competition Bureau. "Penalties imposed by the courts". www.competitionbureau.gc.ca. Retrieved 2017-05-21. 
  24. ^ "Rogers fined $500,000 over Chatr ads". CBC News. Retrieved 2017-05-21. 
  25. ^ Hardy, Ian (May 7, 2012). "Rogers re-branding all Chatr Wireless kiosks in Montreal to Fido". Mobile Syrup. Retrieved 2012-07-03. 
  26. ^ "Cell Coverage Zones | Freedom Mobile". Freedom Mobile. Retrieved 2017-05-21. 
  27. ^ "Prepaid Cell Phone Plans, No Contract, Sim Only Cell Phone Plans". CompareMyRates.ca. Retrieved 2017-05-21. 

External links[edit]