When someone announces that Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk stole his Model S, people are going to sit up and take notice. Of course he certainly doesn’t need to steal a car because he’s got billions of dollars to do whatever he wants with, so what’s the deal? There’s more to the story, and Tesla has issued an official statement explaining why Musk took the car the buyer had placed a deposit on.
The buyer who reported the experience also made some other interesting comments that generally aren’t being reported, undoubtedly because a headline about Musk stealing a car is going to capture clicks. He said he now sees Tesla as a “hobby masquerading as a company”—something Wall Street might find interesting.
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Blog post accuses Musk of stealing Model S
In a post on Atlantic.net, Marty Puranik expounded upon his really bad customer service experience. He wanted to save some money on a Model S, so he bought what Tesla calls an “inventory car,” which it sells at lower prices. These cars are sold as-is after being used as showroom cars or in other functions.
After spending two weeks working with a Tesla representative, he finally found one that met his needs, so he placed down a $4,000 deposit, but his Model S never arrived. After multiple calls, his sales representative finally called him the day before the last possible delivery day that was given to him at the beginning.
Musk already had the car before Puranik ordered it
The rep told him that Elon Musk had already been driving the car as his personal vehicle to test a new Autopilot version for some time. Apparently human error resulted in the car not being shown as earmarked for Musk and instead showed it as available for purchase. Jalopnik published an official statement from a Tesla spokesperson saying this. And here’s the kicker: the reason nobody responded to his calls was because no one knew what to say.
Also Musk tweeted at Benzinga, which ran the original story about him stealing the Model S:
@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
After attempting to find another suitable Model S and then offering a car for $20,000 more than one Puranik was going to pay for the other, he demanded a refund.
Tesla Motors just a hobby?
Toward the end of his post on Atlantic.net, Puranik described Tesla’s customer service as “vaporware,” saying:
“They spend more time trying to create the illusion of customer service, rather than actually providing it. There is no mechanism for them to get feedback, as I tried to provide, so its [sic] difficult to see how they can improve it if they don’t know where they are going wrong.”
As a result of his experience with Tesla’s customer service, he doesn’t think the automaker will be able to survive. For one thing, it uses a direct-to-consumer sales model, but if it fails to provide good customer service, ultimately it will probably fail by using this model. In fact, he thinks releasing the Model 3 mass market vehicle “later this year with their current organization will be watching a slow-motion train wreck,” Puranik wrote.
And here’s one of his boldest statements on the state of Tesla:
“Tesla is a publicly traded company that loses money,” he said. “So, strictly speaking, it doesn’t need customers as long as it can fund its losses via Wall Street. In my experience, its 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.”
Shares of Tesla Motors edged higher by as much as 1.4% to $202.77 per share during regular trading hours today.