Nightly News | March 03, 2012
>>> back now with an nbc news investigation. are american troops being ripped off overseas? soldiers claim they're being gouged on phone calls to their families as they head to and from the combat zone . we get a report tonight from our senior investigative correspondent lisa myers .
>> reporter: richard quarter and he unit were on their way to iraq last may when the plane landed in germany to refuel. quarter used the pay phones inside a secure military area to call his family in texas. paying with his debit card .
>> going into the combat zone . i wanted her to know everything was going to be fine and i was going to come home.
>> reporter: he left a quick message for his wife dharma.
>> hi, honey, i love you.
>> reporter: how much were you charged for that?
>> $41 for that three-second voicemail.
>> reporter: sergeant jeremy burns was shocked to pay a total of $176 for two calls he says were less than five minutes each. how do you feel about that?
>> a little ticked off. pretty ridiculous.
>> reporter: now sergeant quarter is suing the company he says gouged him and thousands of other troops. the company bbg communications is headquartered here in san diego .
>> it's terrible that they would do that to us. we fight for their freedom. and they're going to take our money, rip us off?
>> reporter: internet blogs reveal complaints about bbg for years. robbed by bbg. half our unit used this stupid phone. bbg and its sister company bbg global says they do provide some services for these calls. but that the phones are controlled by a german firm which charges the same rate on all credit card calls from its pay phones in germany and that soldiers can get rates by pressing 3. bbg global says allegations that troops are being overcharged are untrue and offensive. but soldiers asked why the phones won't take prepaid calling cards that many of them carry. forcing them to use credit cards . the better business bureau has had so many complaints from troops that it gives bbg an "f" rating.
>> i think they're being targeted. i find that disgusting.
>> reporter: we asked germany 's largest phone company what it would have charged for the same call -- they said $10, not $41. the u.s. transportation command which is in charge of moving troops around the world told us it doesn't have jurisdiction over these phones in germany . but it is concerned about the troops and says notices have now been posted to warn of the costs of calling home. lisa myers , nbc news, washington.