In a bit of a bizarre story, Tesla’s Elon Musk felt forced(?) to respond via Twitter to accusations that he stole someone’s car.
Customer’s frustration with Tesla boils over to theft “accusations”
@Benzinga I didn’t take anyone’s car and never would. Car was actually allocated to engineering test (not by me) and inadvertently sold.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 20, 2016
In a blog post on Atlantic.net (Not to be confused with one of the nation’s oldest magazine’s The Atlantic Monthly), a frustrated customer, presently just Marty, highlighted his troubles purchasing a Tesla. It should be noted early on that this was not a new Tesla Model S, but rather a showroom model that he was purchasing at a discount.
The discounted or “inventory car” are made available by Tesla after they have spent their early lives in test drives, in showrooms or as rentals. Having agreed on a price and remitting $4,000 as a deposit, Marty went about the process of having “his” car which was being purchased in California delivered to his home in Florida.
Marty claims that when the car was not delivered in the first week in January, as he expected it to be, he began making telephone calls and sending emails to determine the cause of the holdup. These calls were made and emails were sent to both the Orlando delivery center as well as Tesla’s headquarters in California.. While earlier in the blog post Marty claims that he “wasn’t that impressed” with the car following a test drive, however, he seemed quite keen to purchase one and from what I’ve read was quite interested in having the car delivered.
Finally, Marty was contacted by someone in Tesla.
Tesla and Elon Musk’s response, customer service concerns
“On the evening of January 7, the day before I was to receive my car, Kevin called me to explain he had a call in with the Office of the CEO at Tesla and was working with his team in Tesla to resolve a problem that had come up—their CEO, Elon Musk, had taken my car and was using it as his personal vehicle to test a new version of autopilot. Even worse, he said he could see all the calls I had made into the Orlando delivery center this past week, and no one was taking my calls because no one knew what to do,” Marty wrote in his post.
Elon Musk on Wednesday afternoon tweeted to Benzinga, (which published a story about the post) “I didn’t take anyone’s car and never would. Car was actually allocated to engineering test (not by me) and inadvertently sold.”
Whatever “inadvertently” selling a car means….
@elonmusk We’ve since clarified our story. Thanks for replying. We’d love to test the next model on these icy Michigan roads some time.
— Benzinga.com (@Benzinga) January 20, 2016
I’m not here to vilify Marty and surely Tesla will try to sort out this problem. (This won’t be the case as the writer of this blog, canceled his order) I don’t believe that Marty thinks Elon Musk stole his car despite titling his blog post : “How Elon Musk Stole My Car.”
That said he was clearly frustrated and if this story played out as he says it did, he brings up some customer service issues that need to be addressed in the end of his blog post.
“I think launching a higher volume (Model 3) sedan later this year with their current organization will be watching a slow-motion train wreck,” he posted.
“In my experience, it’s a hobby masquerading as a company, and it can probably run as a hobbyist organization for some time. But, at some point, customers will matter, they always do,” he finished.
While there is certainly an undercurrent of bitterness here, Tesla needs to listen to Marty’s advice going forward with their non-traditional sales model.