BBG Communications, a privately owned operator of public telephones located in airports, rail stations and cruise ship terminals around the world, has been sued in a class action complaint, alleging the company charges grossly excessive fees to customers using credit cards on its pay telephones.
The lawsuit, seeking class-action status, was filed on behalf of two Northern California men, according to an article in the San Diego Union-Tribune. The lawyer who filed the lawsuit, Alan Mansfield, said that the company charges fees that are unconscionable when using a credit card, despite listing fees for about $1 or less per minute when using coins.
One of the men said that he was charged $54.33 for a one-minute call from a BBG payphone while in Germany, using his credit card. The other claimed that he made two calls totaling seven minutes and was charged $150 by the company.
The lawsuit alleges that the company advertises low rates for customers that use cash, but does not list rates for using credit or debit cards. Customers expect similar rates, and then discover the enormous charges later when they receive their bank statement or credit card bill. When customers complain, BBG typically refunds only 30 to 40 percent of the charges.
The company operates about 350,000 phones around the world, including the iconic red phone booths in London. It provides phone services in North and South America, Europe, Japan, Israel and the Caribbean, and sells 300 million minutes of calls each month.
The company is owned by the Galicot family of Tijuana, Mexico, and is run by Gregory Galicot.