August 16, 2022

Bucks: The Latest in Credit Card Scams

With the widespread use of cellphones, public pay phones would seem to be a dying breed. But they can still come in handy on occasion — say, at the airport, when your smartphone battery is running low.

But that’s exactly where scads of consumers report being surprised with eye-popping fees when making credit card calls on pay phones serviced by a company called BBG Communications Inc., and various affiliates.

Two lawyers, Alan M. Mansfield and John Mattes, have set up Web site,, to gather accounts of outlandish fees charged by the company for short calls made on its airport phones. (The two are pursuing a class-action lawsuit against the company.) In a typical example, a woman wrote on the Web site that she used her credit card and was charged nearly $16 for each of three brief phone calls made to Denver from the Minneapolis airport — even though she had expected to be charged a rate of $1 for every four minutes, based on information that appeared on the phone.

The Los Angeles Times recently reported on similar unanticipated charges on calls made from Los Angeles International Airport. In one example cited in the article, a woman said the phone listed a fee of 50 cents, but she didn’t have change. Instead, she used a credit card to make a local call to her husband, and was billed $19.98.

The Better Business Bureau gives BBG Communications an “F,” based on more than 500 complaints received over three years and a failure “to resolve the underlying cause of a pattern of complaints.” The site refers specifically to complaints about overcharges for international calls, including charges for calls that were never completed.

A woman who answered the phone at BBG Communications on Tuesday said, “We don’t answer any questions from the media.” But I’m waiting to hear back from the company’s outside lawyer.

Have you made a call from an airport pay phone using a credit card? Were you surprised by the bill?

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