Limits On Unlimited Calling Plans

For Judy Leach, parrots aren't just a passion, they're a business, which means lots of time on the phone and online.

So, as CBS News Correspondent Cynthia Bowers reports, she was excited when phone company SBC offered her unlimited calling for less than $50 a month.

She was told there would be no limitations on three lines for $43.95.

"I said, 'Wow,' and she said, 'that's why makes it such a good deal,'" says Leach.

And it would have been a great deal except that Leach's bill turned out to be 50 times that.

She never imagined she'd be looking at a phone bill for $2,500.

"I thought $200 was really bad," she says.

It was limitations on her unlimited plan that ended up costing her.

"No Internet calls over 15 miles, no fax calls to excess, voice calls are limited to 1,000," she says. "Where's it unlimited? I don't see one single facet of this plan that's unlimited."

The Illinois Citizen's Utility Board says it has fielded hundreds of such complaints -- and not just from SBC customers.

"They feel they don't understand their bills, and they have a vague idea that somehow they're being ripped off. And in many cases they're right," says Martin Cohen, of the Citizen's Utility Board.

Consumer advocates say part of the problem is our unwillingness to take the time to figure out the real cost of a particular plan. And they caution unless you know enough to ask the right questions, you may not be getting the best rate.

SBC says "they work hard to help customers pick choices that are right for them."

They've agreed to write off Judy Leach's bill, even so.

"The next time you get a call for unlimited anything, ha ha, I don't believe it, I just don't," she says.

In her mind, some bargains are for the birds.