Casey Calls on Foreign Company to End Scheme that Forces Troops to Overpay for Calls Home

Returning U.S. Soldiers Laid Over In Germany Are Being Charged Astronomical Amounts for Calls Home- $41 For 3 Seconds in Some Cases

In Letter, Casey Calls on BBG Global to End Abusive Practice

Washington DC- Today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) called on foreign telecom company BBG Global to end a practice that charges returning U.S. troops astronomical amounts for calls home.

New reports have surfaced showing that returning U.S. soldiers, who are stopped over at Germany’s Leipzig airport, are being charged as much as $50 for calls that list mere minutes. During layovers American troops are required to stay in a segregated lounge at the airport. The phones do not accept prepaid phone cards bought in the United States, and because many of our military men and women do not carry personal cell phones U.S. troops are forced to use payphones that do not list the price of the call. The practice has bilked many U.S. soldiers.

“What BBG Global is doing to our returning heroes is an outrage and it must be stopped immediately,” Casey said. “All our service men and women are trying to do is phone their loved ones, they shouldn’t have to pay an unseemly amount of money to do it.”

In his letter, Casey wrote, “Unlike individuals who travel for business or leisure, U.S. military men and women often do not carry personal cell phones and are required to stay within designated areas of the airport…… Because these pay phones apparently do not display information about the cost of international calls, servicemembers are often not aware of the amount of the charges until they receive a bill from the company.  American servicemembers have reported paying more than $40 for calls lasting only a few minutes.”

The full text of Casey’s letter to BBG Global President Gregorio Galicot can be seen below

 

                                                March 6, 2012

Mr. Gregorio Galicot
President
BBG Global, AG

Dear Mr. Galicot,

I write to urge BBG Global to end its alleged predatory practice of overcharging American servicemembers for international phone calls.  These brave men and women make enormous sacrifices to protect the United States and our allies, and should not be forced to pay exorbitant fees for brief phone calls to loved ones at home.  

Each year, thousands of U.S. servicemembers travel to and from war zones through German airports.  In many cases, pay phones owned by BBG Global offer the only opportunity for servicemembers to place calls during their travel.  Unlike individuals who travel for business or leisure, U.S. military men and women often do not carry personal cell phones and are required to stay within designated areas of the airport.  For example, at Leipzig-Halle Airport, it is my understanding that U.S. servicemembers must wait in a troops-only lounge, which is equipped with BBG Global pay phones.

Because these pay phones apparently do not display information about the cost of international calls, servicemembers are often not aware of the amount of the charges until they receive a bill from the company.  American servicemembers have reported paying more than $40 for calls lasting only a few minutes.  In addition, my office has been informed that BBG Global’s pay phones do not accept pre-paid calling cards, making it impossible for servicemembers to take advantage of lower-cost call options.

I strongly urge BBG Global to display information about the cost of calls on its pay phones, and to reduce the cost of international calls in airports that cater to U.S. servicemembers.  Members of the U.S. Armed Forces should be able to talk to their loved ones without worrying about being charged unreasonable rates.

                                                Sincerely,

                                                Robert P. Casey, Jr.
                                                United States Senator