|Industry||Mobile virtual network operator|
|Founded||July 28, 2010|
|Garrick Tiplady, Senior Vice President|
|Products||Android smartphone and feature phones|
|Services||GSM, HSPA (including HSPA+), mobile broadband, SMS, telephony|
Chatr Mobile (stylized as chatr) is a Canadian mobile virtual network operator owned by Rogers Communications targeting entry-level customers. It is one of four wireless brands owned by Rogers Communications, including Rogers Wireless, Fido Solutions, and Mobilicity (one of the brands Chatr was originally established to compete against). The provider launched its service in Toronto, Ottawa, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, Quebec City, and Montreal under the name Chatr Wireless on July 28, 2010. It rebranded 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 refers to these as "local talk zones", which only apply to plans without long distance. Chatr also operates "unlimited data zones" in Edmonton, Calgary, and the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (extending to Niagara Falls) for customers on their unlimited data plan, but any calling and data outside of the zones is pay-per-use.
The Chatr network includes several "local talk zones" (previously dubbed "chatr zones") where customers are offered unlimited usage that applies only within a certain coverage area. 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; 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 one of their carrier's zones.
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). It was also at this time that Chatr formally changed its name from "Chatr Wireless" to "Chatr Mobile".
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, Hamilton, and Niagara Falls. 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.
Chatr offers four monthly plans, purchasable either with prepaid credits, a credit card or a debit card. There is also an option for automatic credit card payments (auto-pay). Unlimited calling features can only be used when a phone call is placed in a "local talk zone", while SMS text messages and mobile broadband 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 no charge for calls and SMS messages received within a "local talk zone". 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 $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.
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.
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.
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 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".
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.
On August 19, 2013 it was announced that the court confirmed that Chatr's advertising of fewer dropped calls, in connection with its 2010 launch, was fair and accurate.
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."
Best Buy, Costco, London Drugs, Tbooth, Walmart, WirelessWave and Wireless Etc. sell Chatr prepaid products and top-up cards. 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.
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.
Other brands owned by Rogers
- Melanson, Donald (2010-07-02). "Rogers announces plans for budget-minded 'Chatr' wireless brand". Engadget. Retrieved 2010-08-27.
- Mathieu, Emily (2010-07-28). "Mobilicity to take Rogers to court over new discount service". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2010-08-27.
- chatr wireless - Coverage. Retrieved on July 28, 2016.
- Behar, Rose. "Chatr adds new unlimited data plan for Toronto, Calgary and Edmonton". MobileSyrup. Retrieved July 28, 2016.
- MadFerIt2006. "How does one enable only chatr zone coverage". HowardForums Chatr forum. Post 6. Retrieved 2011-07-07.
- nzoka; MadFerIt2006; volodyan. "How does one enable only chatr zone coverage". HowardForums Chatr forum. Posts 1, 6, and 9. Retrieved 2011-07-07.
- "FAQs » Chatr unlimited local talk zone plans". Chatr Mobile. Retrieved 2016-08-04.
- Chatr voice plans
- Chatr phone offerings
- Moretti, Stefania (2010-07-09). "Mobilicity prepared to take legal action over Chatr". Canoe. Retrieved 2010-08-27.
- Marlow, Iain (2010-07-09). "Mobilicity says Roger's chatr may violate Competition Act". FinancialPost.com. Retrieved 2011-06-10.
- Marlow, Iain (2010-11-29). "Comparison of dropped-call data weakens Rogers claims". The Globe & Mail. Retrieved 2010-12-04.
- Hardy, Ian (May 7, 2012). "Rogers re-branding all Chatr Wireless kiosks in Montreal to Fido". Mobile Syrup. Retrieved 2012-07-03.