Editorial: Solavei, Perfection or MLM Nightmare?

Once in a while, an idea comes along that is so amazing, everyone wants a piece of the pie. Whether it is candles, smelly stuff or diet pills, MLM deals are everywhere. That said, for the first time, Bellevue, WA startup Solavei is bringing MLM practices to the cellular industry.

Marketing a $49 a month plan running on the T-Mobile network, the deal itself isn’t a bad start, but as a member, you can recruit additional users to the network and get paid for them. Using a system called trios, users make $20 for every 3 users they bring in. That’s $20 a month, not just a one time referral fee. Over the course of time, you can add more trios for more mo et. Then they can add trios and you get a cut from them as well. The system looks good from the outside, but at what cost is it to hock your wares to others in hopes of getting that paycheck?

First, the service plan is decent, but honestly, not much better than T-Mobile’s own Value or Monthly 4G plans. At $49 for unlimited voice and text, its not bad, but add in the 4GB of 4G data and unlimited 2G data and it is an even better deal. Of course, there is no tethering option and only T-Mobile devices with editable APN’s can use all the services.

The devices that Solavei is offering range from a lower end ZTE Android device for $159 up to the powerful HTC One S for $529. The alternative is to bring you existing T-Mo device into the network for the cost of a $29.99 SIM card. That combined with the $49 enrollment fee and $49 first month fee, users are looking at a minimum buy in of $130 and a possible $630 with a full priced One S.

With the bevy of unlimited services under $50 already, the big push with Solavei is the fact that you can make money off friends, family and acquaintances. What isn’t mentioned is only one person can sign someone up for a trio, so if you got an email, chances are, so did the people you know.

Solavei doesn’t seem like a bad idea, in fact, it seems brilliant on the surface. Pay the users to market your service instead of paying for advertising. Our issue is T-Mobile’s network is tough enough to deal with as a T-Mobile customer, and as SIMple Mobile’s user base will atest, not having anyone to turn to for network help makes you feel powerless, no matter how inexpensive your bill gets.

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