Web site hosts reports of BBG’s outrageous phone charges

The law firm taking on BBG Communications Inc., announced the address of a Web site Tuesday where victims of outrageous overseas telephone credit card charges can complain and perhaps join in a federal class action law suit.

The site is http://www.bbgovercharge.com

Consumer lawyer Alan Mansfield and consumer advocate John Mattes, also a lawyer, said this is the first case targeting the long-running BBG operation. The business is owned by a family living in Tijuana, México. The legal case puts an international dimension on the company that has phones at perhaps as many as 400 Costa Rican hotels.

“The company makes huge profits off consumers by never posting credit card rates on the 350,000 phones BBG operates worldwide,” said the Web site. Consumers only see rates for coin calls and only learn of the huge connections fees and pricey rates for minutes after they get their credit card bills. Many consumers also report charges for calls that never go through.”

At one time and perhaps now BBG had a relationship with the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad, which was the monopoly telephone provider in the country.

“The lawsuit alleges that along with the hidden overcharges, the company takes elaborate steps to avoid consumers who are seeking refunds and justice,” said the Web site. “The company operates under a dozen different names and behind shell companies in Bermuda and Switzerland. Consumers never get the full name and address of the company on credit card statements, and when consumers call the company the company refuses to disclose it’s location. The company bills over 300 million minutes a month, so losses to consumers amount to tens of millions.

A.M. Costa Rica disclosed the company’s operations here two years ago, but Mattes said complaints go back five years. The San Diego, California, Better Business Bureau has nearly 600 complaints, the Web site said.

The new Web site is beginning to attract stories of overcharging. A soldier returning from duty in Iraq said he was charged $42 for a call when his plane stopped at a German airfield.

Some victims report charges in excess of $150 for short calls.

The Web site contains a contact form for individuals who wish to share a BBG experience or participate in the suit.

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