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BlackBerry says report of high return rate 'false'

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Smartphone maker BlackBerry on Friday slammed as "false and misleading" a brokerage research note which claimed consumers were returning the new Z10 handsets at a high rate. 

A BlackBerry Z10 is offered for sale at an AT&T store on March 28, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. BlackBerry on Friday slammed as "false and misleading" a brokerage research note which claimed consumers were returning the new Z10 handsets at a high rate.

The Waterloo, Ontario, firm said it would ask US and Canadian stock market regulators to investigate the basis for the note which was issued this week by Detwiler Fenton.

"Sales of the BlackBerry Z10 are meeting expectations and the data we have collected from our retail and carrier partners demonstrates that customers are satisfied with their devices," said BlackBerry chief executive Thorsten Heins.

"Return rate statistics show that we are at or below our forecasts and right in line with the industry. To suggest otherwise is either a gross misreading of the data or a willful manipulation. Such a conclusion is absolutely without basis and BlackBerry will not leave it unchallenged."

BlackBerry said Detwiler Fenton refused to make either its report to investors or its methodology available to BlackBerry, even after the company said the findings were false.

"These materially false and misleading comments about device return rates in the United States harm BlackBerry and our shareholders, and we call upon the appropriate authorities in Canada and the United States to conduct an immediate investigation," said BlackBerry chief legal officer Steve Zipperstein.

"Everyone is entitled to their opinion about the merits of the many competing products in the smartphone industry, but when false statements of material fact are deliberately purveyed for the purpose of influencing the markets, a red line has been crossed."

Detwiler Fenton general counsel Anne Buckley said the firm stood by its analysis.

"We are confident in our research methodology and we welcome any regulatory inquiry," Buckley said in a statement.

"Detwiler Fenton is not the only research provider publishing similar reports regarding customer reactions, sales and returns of the BlackBerry Z10. It should also be noted that neither the research analyst nor any officer or director of Detwiler Fenton has any financial interest in BlackBerry," Buckley said.

The Z10, which is the company's first smartphone using the new BlackBerry 10 platform, went on sale this year in a crucial test for BlackBerry, which has been fading rapidly against rivals from Apple and those using the Google Android operating system.

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