It may be on top of the world right now in terms of deliveries, but Tesla continues to battle a reputation for gremlins on the production line and a reputation for poor after-sales support. And, this latest story touches on both issues.
The brand is under fire for reportedly delivering a brand new Model 3 to a customer in the US with a missing brake pad. And to add salt to the wound, the firm is reportedly dragging its feet on mending the seemingly simple issue.
The customer in question is Floridian April Gilmore. She took delivery of a new Model 3 in late December, and noticed a strange noise coming from the left-rear wheel. She reported the issue to Tesla the following day, and was booked in for a service appointment three weeks later.
She didn’t have to wait until the service appointment for more correspondence, though. Having been asked to send a video of the suspect sound [embeded above], a Tesla representative replied to April stating that the noise was just “normal for a performance Model 3”.
As the headline of this story spoils, the noise’s source was anything but normal. April ended up taking the car to an independent mechanic — ultimately finding that the car had been delivered without a pad, and that it also inevitably required a new rotor and caliper after traveling 112 miles.
This would all be bad news enough, if it weren’t for what came next. April has posted on social media that it’s been more than three weeks since her model 3 was towed to the service center, with Tesla — having initially scheduled the repair for December 31 — claim that they’re delayed because they’re waiting on parts.
The experience has clearly left a negative impression on April. “If you’re considering buying a Tesla, make sure you’re prepared for the worst customer service experience EVER. Once you drive off the lot, they do not care… even if the issue you’re having is 100% their fault,” she posted on Twitter.
“The car was brand new when I picked it up. It had about 20 miles on it when I drove it off the lot. It currently has 112 miles on it. It was never serviced or tampered with during the four days that I had it,” she explained in an interview with Auto Evolution.
“I have 24/7 video surveillance of my home with videos of every minute the car was parked under my carport. There’s no way anyone removed the wheel, took the brake apart, and removed the inner brake pad without it being caught on my surveillance system or setting off Sentry mode. Impossible.
“To be fair, the ordering process with Tesla was great. There was no haggling and sitting around at a car dealership waiting for paperwork, etc. I have to credit Tesla for providing a unique buying experience. However, once you drive the car off the lot, everything changes.
“It feels like a game of hot potato where you’re the potato, and Tesla employees are just passing you around to get rid of you. I’ve never experienced that with any car manufacturer or dealership. Dealing with Tesla Service is definitely not a plus from my experience.”
The story follows several other high-profile articles about Tesla’s customer support. One of these was the local story of Auckland Model 3 owner James Hurman, who had to wait four months for Tesla’s local arm to pay him for a trade-in vehicle. It wasn’t until his story became reported nationally that Tesla promptly paid him the owed $13,500 last November.
“Please Tesla (global) could you adjust your obviously obfuscatory mechanisms to limit customers’ ability to raise issues, contact a support person (a local, human one), or chase up large sums of money which are in your best interests to hold and earn interest on for as long as possible – an especially pernicious and unnecessary tactic when your company is owned by the richest person in the world,” he said.