333 Bloor Street East,
Chatr (pronounced Shatre in French) is a Canadian MVNO with a focus on being a budget brand targeting low end customers. It is the third wireless service network owned by Rogers Communications, after Rogers Wireless and Fido. The provider launched their network in Toronto, Ottawa, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver and now Montreal (September 16, 2010) and later expand to more markets. The brand is “designed to offer Canadians more choice.” Chatr launched its service on July 28, 2010. Their “chatr zone” coverage is artificially limited to match the coverage of Wind Mobile, Public Mobile and Mobilicity, and so using a Chatr phone outside of these zones results in additional charges.
The Chatr network is based on zones, where customers are offered specific services that function only within a certain coverage area. When a Chatr customer leaves their designated zone, services, such as voice minutes and outgoing texts, are available on a pay-per-use basis. The only way for a customer to know if they are in a Chatr zone is to check the coverage map or to check their account balance after making a call. Mobilicity, Solo Mobile, and Wind Mobile, by contrast, offer more ways for customers to tell if they are in their carrier’s zones.
Chatr mostly sells feature phones, but also carries a smartphone. Additionally, Chatr SIM cards allow other handsets to be used. Three devices are made by Nokia, while one is from LG and another is from Sony. Each has a nickname given by Chatr.
LG C195, Motorola MOTOGO! Flip, Nokia 1616, Nokia C2-02, Nokia C3, Sony Ericsson txt pro, ZTE F160
LG Optimus L3 – The Touch & LG P505 – The Social
SIM cards from Chatr are compatible with any GSM or HSPA+ device designed to be used with Rogers Wireless. This includes devices from Rogers itself, plus its mobile virtual network operators such as 7-Eleven Speak Out Wireless.
Chatr offers three base monthly plans, purchasable either with prepaid credits, a credit card or a debit card. There is also an option for automatic credit card payments. Unlimited calling features can only be used when a phone call is placed in a “Chatr zone”, while SMS and mobile broadband included can be used throughout the Rogers network. Except for Chatr’s customer service, additional charges apply for any call made or received outside of Chatr’s coverage. There is also SMS short code support for messaging via the Facebook and Twitter services, which does not require or use mobile broadband.
The base “Unlimited Local Talk” plan includes unlimited incoming calls and texts, unlimited local outgoing calls, 50 sent SMS from Canada to Canada or USA and a ten-message voicemail with 25¢ per minute retrieval charge. The Call display, Call waiting, Call forwarding and Group calling features are also included. The midrange “Unlimited Province-Wide Talk & Text” adds unlimited province-wide outgoing calls and unlimited sent SMS to Canada and the USA, while also waiving the voicemail retrieval charge. The high-end plan, “Unlimited Talk & Text plus Unlimited International Text”, adds unlimited Canada-wide calling and unlimited sent international texts compared to the previous plan.
For an additional fee, one can add preferred long distance rates or 100 MB of mobile broadband to the “Unlimited Local Talk” (long distance only) or “Unlimited Talk & Text plus Unlimited International Text” (either add-on) plans. However, it is not possible to add both add-ons to one line
Several controversies regarding Chatr received mainstream media coverage. The company received two accusations of breaching the Competition Act in Canada.
Chatr has been accused of violating the Competition Act because it is a fighter brand created by Rogers. Chatr’s pricing policy closely reflects that of Wind Mobile, Mobilicity and Public 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”.
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:
- Stop Chatr’s advertising campaign
- Pay a 10-million dollar penalty
- Pay restitution to any customers affected by the misleading claim
- Send out a corrective notice to inform the public about the issue
The Bureau has accused Rogers of:
- using misleading advertising to promote its talk-and-text service Chatr…”
- having “…no evidence support[ing] Chatr’s claim that their customers will experience fewer dropped calls than they would with new rival wireless carriers…”
- 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.
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.”
Chatr has its own retail stores. Additionally, Best Buy, Costco, Future Shop, London Drugs, Tbooth, Walmart, WirelessWave and Zellers sell Chatr prepaid products and top-up cards.
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.
All seven Chatr kiosks in Montreal were converted to Fido kiosks in May 2012. This does not affect third-party retail presence of Chatr in Montreal.