Frankfurt to San Jose - $54.54 for one minute call

I used my credit card to call home (San Jose, CA) from Frankfurt Airport during a trip last year. And the calling company charged $54.54 for an approximately one minute call. Here is what I see in my credit card statement detail:

Transaction Date 12/10/2007
Transaction Description  INTL CL\* 800-5762118 CA
Called From GERMANY GE Number: 0114901113
Called To LOS GATOS CA Number: xxx-xxx-xxxx
Time of Call: 00:22 Duration: 00:05
Charge: $54.54
SUITE 1770

Gosh, this turned out to be an EXPENSIVE call!

The duration is listed as 00:05, i.e. 5 seconds. I remember talking for approx a minute. IMHO having no information is better than having incorrect one.

Fortunately, the customer service number was correct and I got some points clarified:
  • This call is placed through satellite and that's why they charged this rate. He could not explain why satellite is used when credit card is used to call.
  • The pulse rate is 5 minutes. So the telephone company always charge in multiple of 5 minutes.
  • Talk to a live operator, inquire about the rates and then place the call. In the United States, making an operator-assisted call charges you more money. So this was completely non-intuitive to me.
  • Because of some stated law, the international calling rate, pulse rate and similar information cannot be placed on the phone equipment. Again, no reference to what/where the law is.
  • Use a pre-paid card to make the international call. This is a lesson learned for me, hard way!
The customer service contact also refunded part of the charges, but even then it's still a lot!

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Posted by intuitive on January 27, 2008 at 01:34 AM PST #

Can you please give me the details of the customer service number/e-mail ID which I should be getting in touch with? I have also be robbed for a single minute call to India from Frankfurt airport. Thanks in advance.

Posted by Juhi on July 17, 2008 at 06:06 PM PDT #


I used the customer service # from the credit card statement detailed entry.

Posted by Arun Gupta on July 17, 2008 at 10:35 PM PDT #

Hi, This is Praneetha student at Texas A & M
hey even I was robbed in the same fashion :( Not knowing that they would charge so much I have made 2 calls. So I am robbed twice :( :(
Can you tell how much they have refunded cos I am charged 55.82$ twice :( though both the calls dint even last for 1 minute

Posted by praneetha on January 19, 2010 at 06:26 PM PST #

On 09-27-2009 I traveled to Hungary and returned on 10-18-2009 via Amsterdam. On 29-30/09 and 21/10/2009 I made phone calls from the Amsterdam Schiphol airport transit public phones using my credit card. 6 of the 8 calls were operator assisted. When asking the operator about the charges, he quoted $2 for the first minute and $1 a minute afterwards. I agreed to the charges. Returning to Australia I was shocked to see the charges on my account. I immediately contacted my bank (Westpac) that this was a fraud as I was overcharged for the service. The bank investigated the transactions and concluded that because I provided them my card details, by MasterCard rules the transactions were legal.

I phoned the above company and was told
1. all my calls were made from a hotel - but I never stayed in a hotel in my life.
2. none of my calls were operator assisted, so I could not have got the above quotes from them - but 6 of the 8 calls made were.

They said, they charged 60 AUD for the first 5 minutes then $2-3/minute. I asked them to find the voice recording of the conversation I had with the operator when he quoted me the charges. They said they don't record any conversations.

I am exceedingly upset because being a single income family and having a baby we are on a very tight budget ,and I would not have used their service if such high charges were quoted.

The amounts in question are the following:

Date and charges:




SUM: $456.28

The company is uncooperative and lie. They refused to refund any of my money. Perhaps the operators are on a commission and quote a low charge otherwise nobody would use their services.

Posted by Aiown on January 28, 2010 at 11:08 AM PST #


Even I was robbed the same way but i never enquired charges b4 i made
a call. but even then i was charged 55.85$ per call i made 2 calls
from frankfurt ... thnx for the reply :)

As they know our master card details Is thr any chance of more robbery
?? Just a doubt

Posted by Praneetha on January 29, 2010 at 09:39 AM PST #

I also got cheated in same way.
During my stay at Frankfurt I was charged $52 and $42.
More surprizingly I have charged by another $45 after two days reaching India as well.
This is totally fraud case.
Can somebody mail me their email id or contact number?

Can't this be reported to Frankfurt airport authority?


Posted by amit tanwar on June 22, 2010 at 03:29 PM PDT #

I got my money back because I complained to the banking ombudsman, so the bank refunded my money and took a loss. If they are a channel to a crime, they should pay for it else they need to ensure that the transaction is legal.

Posted by Aiown on June 23, 2010 at 09:28 AM PDT #

The BBG/ Faircall/ International Satellite Communications scam must be stopped
John Mattes here at .We are talking to consumers around the globe and asking for details of how they got scammed by BBG./ International SatelliteCommunications / faircall ... so we can take action. The scam has gone on for at least 5 years at hotels and pay phones all over the world.If enough consumers stand up we can end the scam .Write giving us details of how they scammed you. Send to
See all our scam busting stories at

Thank you in advance

Posted by investigativeguy on September 11, 2010 at 06:20 AM PDT #

A quick update for people looking to make calls from Frankfurt airport.

I got scammed by BBG the first time I transited through. This last time, I realized a few things:

1) DO NOT BUY the calling cards from the machines around the airport. They have calling card vending machines right next to the payphones. As absurd as it is, these calling cards DO NOT work on their own payphones. The 800 access number on the card is blocked from the payphones. So its a complete waste of your money.

2) The rates for the payphones are clearly displayed on the LCD phone displays, and these are the cash rates. In theory, disputing the charges from BBG should be trivial if we can get a screen shot of the LCD displays. The display says that calls to the US are $1 or so per minute. Unfortunately I did not have a camera, so could not take a shot. Can someone who sees this please take a shot and post it?

3) And for folks who actually need to make a call... USE COINS. I got a few Euro coins at the money changer, and called home for a couple minutes to the US for just 2 Euro. Best of all, total peace of mind that there are no hidden charges.

Hope this helps someone out there.

Posted by Sheldon on November 04, 2010 at 08:16 PM PDT #

Hi John Mattes at
The update on BBG is
We now know they control 350,000 phones worldwide. We also know that their phones block other 800 services so you can't use them on their phones to avoid huge charges. We have just posted a story at on the scam.We need your help.We need your input as to what has happened to consumers worldwide.Send us your stories of what happened to you at pay phones and hotel phones.E mail us at plan to take action soon

Posted by john mattes on November 05, 2010 at 02:00 AM PDT #


I seem to be a new addition to this growing number of people legally being cheated by this phone scam for calls made from Franfurt airport - unbelievable that this kind of official looting is authorized and practiced with immunity. Two days, when the great employees of Lufthansa were on a flash strike at Frankfurt airport, my wife made a one-minute call to me in the US letting me know that she was stranded at Franfurt. She was unable to reach my US number through any pay phone, etc. and was forced to go this route where she had to use this super-expensive method - and she was not told what the charges would be. I am going to fight these charges on my Amex - not sure if I will succeed.

On a related note, is it better to pay whatever crazy charges companies like Verizon charge for making international calls, roaming charges, etc. and carry the US cell phone for use in such situations. Notwithstanding the exorbitant cell phone charges, will this still be cheaper? ANy and all advice welcome.


Posted by guest on September 06, 2012 at 07:24 AM PDT #

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Arun Gupta is a technology enthusiast, a passionate runner, author, and a community guy who works for Oracle Corp.

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