“What if you could save money on your cell phone bill every month – or possibly even eliminate it all together?”
Sounded like a good deal to me.
BUT, you know me – I like to dig to find the catch. 😉
So, when I first heard about this new cell phone service provider called Solavei, I had a TON of questions. There is some “hype” out there about the company, but it runs on T-Mobile and ATT signal towers, so I decided the price they were offering was worth the effort of digging to discern the reality from the hype.
Did I mention I had a TON of questions? 🙂 Literally, the woman I spoke with spent 3 hours with me answering all my questions. I needed to make sure the business model was legit, that there were no hidden fees in the service beyond normal taxes and such, that my phone would work on their service, that it would make sense for me to switch even though I was still in contract with my provider of 15+ years (who I’ve been happy with… but, the Solavei price was really worth looking at more closely), etc.
For those who may not want to read over my detailed story of research, here is the quick summary, ‘bottom-line result’ of all my digging…
I found that it was a legit company with a great deal to offer our family. I became a customer because it will save us a decent amount of money every month *even if I never refer another soul to the company.* And the actual service and coverage has been good, so I’ve decided that it’s worth telling people about. I know a lot of people pay way more than $49/month for their smart phone service – so I know this could help folks save money. And the possibility of eliminating phone bills for my family and others, by referring people to the company, is also a great option for everyone in a tough economy. Who wouldn’t like to eliminate a major bill from their budget?
If $49/month for unlimited voice, text, and data sounds like a good deal to you, too, and you want to check it out, here is the referral website the company gave me (free with my service) to share with friends.
** If you have questions as to whether this would actually be a good fit for your situation or not, contact me and I’ll be happy to help you figure that out. Though every company in the world would like to think they are the perfect fit for everyone, that’s never the case. There are certain situations in which it would NOT make sense to switch to Solavei. And, as in all my paid consulting work (free to you, the company I consult for pays me instead), I’m 100% committed to no hype, no pressure, ‘tell-it-like-it-is’ guidance for my clients, friends, and family and will always be the first to say ‘this wouldn’t make sense for you’ if it really wouldn’t make sense for you.
Check out the website and let me know what questions come up – you can either leave a comment below for a public question, or contact me with your private questions. If you think it’s a good deal too, and do decide to make the switch through my referral site, I’ll effectively get credit toward my bill for referring you – so thanks for considering it! 🙂
Now, for those who want to read the more detailed account of my research and experience with this company, here it is…
As I said, no one company will ever be a good match for everyone – and it’s no different here. So, I wanted to know if, when, how, and why switching to this company would make sense – AND when it would not.
First though, let’s start with the business model. Solavei uses a form of network marketing they like to call a ‘social commerce network.’
OK – let’s stop right there and address something… Network marketing has it’s good, bad, and ugly sides. This is no different than any other profession or industry. In all fields, there are people who do their work well and with integrity, and people who do their work unethically and sometimes even illegally.
First order of business – I wanted to make sure that Solavei was a legally structured network marketing company.
For those who think “network marketing” = “illegal pyramid scheme,” I’d direct you to the IRS website for an obvious indication of the business model’s legitimacy. Note, in the descriptions there, for those who many not know, ‘network marketing’ and ‘multi-level marketing’ and ‘direct sales’ are all basically the same thing. The terms just reference a different aspect of the same industry. Direct sales = person to person selling. Network marketing = getting the word out on a product or service through networks of happy customers, rather than through big-dollar (wasteful, IMO) ad campaigns. MLM = the ability to get paid on the sales of x number of levels in the organization one works to build.
The potential problem with network marketing is two-fold. 1) There are companies out there that look like legit network marketing companies but that actually have illegal ‘pyramid’ components to their structure. And 2) Some of the legally structured companies still promote unethical practices.
So you have to be able to tell the difference.
In a little more detail…
1) If commissions are paid on anything other than the sale of the product or service to an end-user, RUN! I once saw a company that was paying commissions on mandatory monthly website fees for their sales reps – this is not OK. Such ‘business expenses’ or ‘sign-up fees’ should not be commissionable. These are considered ‘pay to play’ or ‘pyramid’ structures and are not to be messed with. It’s only a matter of time before the FTC finds out and comes after them. You do not want your name attached with that.
The verdict on Solavei? I was happy to find that they only pay commissions and bonuses on the actual sale of cell phone service. There aren’t even any sign up fees or monthly website fees to worry about at all. If you sign up for their phone service, you automatically have the option to refer friends for a referral bonus – you do not have to pay an extra fee to be eligible to receive commissions.
Legal commission structure – check!
2) Many network marketing companies will try to ‘lure customers in’ with the ‘potential to earn big-money’ hype. This runs into an ethics issue, and actually the FTC is cracking down on that, too. In network marketing, there is indeed great potential for significant income, BUT it takes a LOT of time (either many hours per day for a year or two, or a little bit per day for 4-7 years), effort, focus, and skill to build that kind of business. Most people, while they might like the idea of the big income and time flexibility of having one’s own business, don’t actually want to do the work it takes to achieve this. Therefore, it is critical that the product or service appeal to the majority of people who are really only going to want to be customers, or to those who maybe just want to refer a few friends for free product or service, or for a bit of side cash.
In this arena, I did see a bit of “sharing is easy” marketing from Solavei. And in a sense, since $49/month is a good deal on unlimited smart phone service, it IS “easy” to share. However, it is important to note that there will always be questions to answer, and if you can’t answer those questions for your friends, or don’t want to, you may not be able to help them figure out if it’s a good deal for their situation or not. Rarely will you ever just be able to send someone to your website link and they’ll just sign up like that. You have to be willing to answer questions and guide them according to what’s actually best for them.
I was pleased to see that Solavei, as a company, does uphold that truth (that it takes work to really build a significant income with them if that’s what you want to do) – even if there may be some individual reps who choose the way of unprofessional hype instead of the way of genuine consulting.
So verdict on the ethics question? Check! The company overall seems to be upholding ethical standards – and I knew, of course, that from all my experience in network marketing over the years, that I personally would be committed to upholding such standards as well.
What about my current contract?
So once the company checked out as a legit company (no sense even looking at the deal they offer me as a customer if the company would be in jeopardy of being shut down by the FTC), I then turned my attention to their offer.
$49/month for unlimited voice, text, and data was a good deal. Compared to what we pay now, we’ll be saving about $35 per month.
But I still had another 13 months left on my current contract. What to do? I did the math!
I found out that the early termination fee (ETF) on my current contract would be $110. The Solavei activation fee ($49), sim card ($29) and first month of service ($49), all together with tax would come to $135 and change. (Side note – until October 31st, they are now waiving the sim card and first month charges for new members.) Add to that $20 to get my phone “unlocked” (which I’ll discuss later), and the total cost to make the switch would come to about $265. But if I stayed with my old provider for the remaining 13 months, paying $35 more per month, that would cost me $455 more. So, it still made more sense to switch now and pay my ETF, than to stick out the contract until November 2013.
What about my phone number?
I was REALLY nervous about the possibility of loosing my phone number. I’ve had this number for 15+ years – and I have not had a land line for over 10 years. This number has been my home, office, cell all in one. Loosing it, while it wouldn’t be the end of the world, would be a major headache.
So, I dug into the logistics of how to make this switch without my number disappearing forever into cyberspace.
First, because the major carriers “lock” your phone so it can only be used on *their* network, you have to get your phone unlocked. You can ask your company to do this, but I heard that in some cases, they were unlocking the phones and then canceling the contract right away, effectively dumping the phone number before people had a chance to ‘port’ the number over. I did NOT want to risk that happening, so I opted to pay $20 to have the phone unlocked by a third-party company.
So, I enrolled with Solavei and ordered my sim card, saying that I was going to port my number. And then, I ordered the iPhone unlock.
The unlock was done within a day, but I had to wait for the Solavei sim card to arrive. I backed up my iPhone data in iTunes with my old sim. My new sim arrived within 3 business days, and to finalize the unlocking process, I put the new sim in and did a back up and restore. Once the unlock was completed, I followed the steps to activate my Solavei sim and – thank God! – my number ported over just fine.
I called ATT to cancel (and was honestly sort of sad, I’d been with them for so long), and they said the account was automatically closed when my number ported.
At first I had some trouble with picture texts, but I called support and they helped me with the settings and now they are working fine. Maybe a little slower than they used to be, but they go through fine.
It’s been about 10 days now, and so far the coverage has been just fine. No dropped calls. Maybe even sounds a bit clearer? And even better signal in a couple places where I didn’t used to get it. The only slight downside is that Solavei does not *yet* support visual voicemail, which I had gotten used to and liked. But, they hope to have it supported in a month or so. Dialing in for my voicemail, like in the ‘old days’ (ha!), isn’t that big a deal.
So when does it NOT it make sense to switch?
Do the math! (I can help you with the specifics.) There are certain situations in which the cost to change may not be worth it if someone only ever intends to be a customer and never refer anyone. If someone would like to refer people, for free service or perhaps even an income, then that extra expense may be worth it. But it’s all a math thing that is unique to each person. Verizon and Sprint users are the mostly likely to just stay put, but not necessarily. It really depends on the particulars – and I can help you figure all that out now that I’ve gone through the process to switch myself and understand it well enough to help others with it. If $49/month for unlimited voice, text, and data sounds good to you, get in touch and we’ll look more closely at your particulars.
Who else wants to save on their service?
Just as with the personal care company whose products I use and represent, and the electric & gas company whose service we use and for whom I do a tiny bit of consulting work on the side, when I was looking at Solavei, I knew I had to first be a happy customer – as if there were no earning potential attached – before I could genuinely tell others about it in good conscience and possibly earn income for the time I spend answering people’s questions.
Since the price was a great deal over what we were paying, and the signal/coverage is good in my area, I am first and foremost their happy customer. So, now I can in good conscience recommend it to others.
As I said above, if $49/month for unlimited voice, text, and data sounds good to you, check out the free referral site they gave me and feel free to contact me with the specifics of your current cell phone plan so I can help you figure out if the switch would actually make sense for your situation or not.
I’m not passionate about cell phones like I am about organics – in fact, I think they can be far too addictive! However, as the ‘tagline’ says on my website here – “seeking restoration of sustainable life… personally, professionally, and spiritually…” Part of that is economic sustainability. And any way that can help a majority of people save money on an almost universal budget item, can help many people eliminate that budget line altogether by referring friends, can help some folks earn some side cash (if they choose to do the work of referring more than 9 friends), and offer some people a great full time income (who go on to choose to do that level of work)… Well, with all those options offered to people in support of economic sustainability… IMO, this is worth sharing.
Again, it won’t be the perfect fit for everyone, but if you want to learn more, let me know. I’m committed to telling you straight up if it wouldn’t make sense for you. 🙂