A U. S. telecommunications firm continues to generate complaints from customers who make international phone calls. Some of the unhappy customers placed calls from Costa Rica and were charged up to $50 for a five-second call abroad. The country’s main telephone service, the Instituto Costarricense de Electricity, has signed another 10-year contract with the firm.
The public telephones are found all over the country, mostly in hotels and at Juan Santamaría airport. According to the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad, the former monopoly provider in the country, there is a rate of 134 colons a minute for international calls on a pay phone.
The rate is the maximum that can be charged in the country, said a spokesperson for the Superintendencia de Telecomunicaciones de Costa Rica. The person added that it is against rules to apply a higher cost.
BBG Global A.G. has found a way to charge more and continues to operate in the country. Because of the locations, the callers usually are foreigners, perhaps tourists, and the calls are all placed with credit cards. The caller usually does not learn of the astronomical charge until the credit card bill arrives. As A.M. Costa Rica has reported, hotel operators and others who host the distinctive blue BBG telephones share in the income. They may not be aware of the excessive charges.
In the United States there are two court cases against the corporation. The first suit is by a Marine and his wife who are suing the corporation because they were charged $44 when the Marine called her for four seconds from Germany. The soldier was on his way to Iraq and paid the call with his credit card. Many servicemen use the company’s phones because the airport in Germany is the last place they are before entering a combat zone and the first place they are when they leave Iraq or Afghanistan.
The second case is against BBG Inc. and BBG Global A.G. Both companies are the same but with different company names, according to information provided by the San Diego Better Business Bureau. However, the company has avoided litigation by saying the firms are separate. There also is a Costa Rican subsidiary.
The bureau provided a list of names that BBG Inc., also know as BBG Global A.G., use worldwide. There have been 459 complaints about the telecommunications corporation in San Diego made to the bureau in the past 36 months. San Diego is the BBG headquarters.
“Consumer complaints allege that consumers are being charged extremely high rates for international phone calls and not being properly informed about the rates prior to making the phone call. Some consumers state they are charged for calls even though they were never connected or the call did not go through,” says the San Diego Better Business Bureau Web site describing the complaints.
Alan Mansfield, a California consumer attorney, is one of the lawyers in the Marine’s case against the telecommunications corporation. In the past year he has received many complaints, and he shared two complaints that have been from Costa Rica.
Both persons had made the calls from hotels in Costa Rica.
One of the callers, a student from Chile, said in his complaint that he had only made five calls, each about 30 seconds per call, and he is now stuck with a $250 credit card bill from BBG Global A.G.