Letter to George Blankenship

Letter to George Blankenship

Posted this letter to George Blankenship today. Thoughts?

I am a long-time fan of Tesla with an order in for a P85 (VIN: P17616) due to be delivered on August 22. Let me start by acknowledging what an extraordinary thing you all at Tesla are doing for your customers and the world at large. Thank you.

I am writing today because I noticed that Tesla is now offering the Parking Sensors for $500. I would love to add those to my configuration, but I am seeing in the forums that Tesla is only allowing me to add the sensors if I am willing to reconfigure my order, which would cost me several thousand dollars more than my current $114,453.00. I have already arranged financing for this amount. I have already signed the Tesla purchase agreement. All I want to do is install the parking sensors that you are currently offering.

This seems grossly unreasonable. And, in the past, Tesla seems to have always chosen the reasonable course.

Given Tesla's interest in providing world-class customer service to people willing to spend more than $100,000 on a car, I would hope that Tesla would be more accommodating for those few of us who fall between the cracks and have made a commitment, arranged financing, signed the paperwork, but whose car has not been built or delivered yet. I have to believe that the parking sensors will be available as an aftermarket upgrade sometime in the near future (likely at a higher cost than the $500 Design Center option). I also have to believe that it will be more costly to add the $500 parking sensors as a retrofit, since you will likely need to remove the nose cone and rear numbers, drill some holes and install the sensors. If that is the best you can do, I will wait for the retrofit option. However, this seems like a classless solution being offered by a very classy car company. Is there not a compromise between paying thousands of dollars for reconfiguring the car just to get a $500 feature (A feature that probably should have been part of the Tech Package already) and being forced to wait until the car is completed, then have to bring it all the way back to Tesla, wait for days, and pay extra for the retrofit? This doesn't sound like world-class customer service to me.

The minor cost of accomodating those few of us who are in this situation would seem trivial when compared to the loss of image to the elite Tesla Brand. Or, at the very least, would it not be more indicative of world-class service to offer to install these new options in those cars currently going through their builds for some incremental amount above the current Design Center List Price but below the expected retrofit price. Everyone would be a winner and you would once again be viewed as stepping up to another level of customer service.

I hope you can resolve this. In any event, I remain a big fan and a hope to be happy customer driving my P85 very soon. Thank you again for all that you and your employees do for us.

Warm regards,

Pungoteague_Dave | 10. August 2013

Wa, wa, wa

I believe that this kind of perceived redress to the executive suite at TM will be toxic to that very concept.

I want PDC too, but bought my car (4061) in Dec and took delivery in Feb. The new red color appeared the day after I finalized. I called and it was too late to change, so we are enjoying our pearl white car... and will get the new features and color next time.

If you REALLY needed (or just wanted) PDC, then why didn't you WAIT???? Anyone on these forums for more than a few days knew that theses features were coming, and that they were already on the EU configuration screens in June. This is definitely true of you folks who claim to be special transitional cases who finalized in July or the first couple days of August. Where WERE you while the new features were being discussed in June and prior?

What I see are sour grapes/buyer remorse, coupled with self-entitled attitudes. You signed a CONTRACT. They will deliver what you ordered exactly as ordered, so get over it. This reminds me of when our kids were little - "but you let him have one..."

I know, you thought Tesla was different. Seriously fell for that stuff? No car manufacturer has gross margins over 15%, and Tesla is targeting 25%. You can pretend this is part of the sustainability religion and that Tesla is about making a better world all you want. Keep telling your friends that Tesla's business model is superior. However, the cold hard fact is that it is about maximizing old-fashioned corporate profits - as it should be.

Every Apple product is obsolete once per year due to model upgrades. Valuable customers are always disappointed that the product bought yesterday was just made old news (and nearly worthless) by the product released this morning. That's life, and if they had eyes open, watching cnet and other forums about upcoming smartphones, they would have seen it coming, and made an intelligent decision to either wait or bite the bullet now.

Every one of the whiners here had the opportunity to know this was coming and wait a few days or weeks to get the new feature. Instead they want special treatment, with a special transitional deal. If Tesla caved to this demand, it would never end - every upgrade would require special coddling and WAY too much direct customer contact. No way to run a business intended to maximize shareholder profits and returns.

Those of you who are abusing our forum-level customer knowledge of executive emails (George & Jerome) about this trivia run the risk of Tesla becoming like all other corporate entities where these things get out of hand. With increasing volumes, the daily deluge of direct customer access may make it virtually impossible for them to do their jobs, so walls will go up, access will go away, and the truly serious customer issues will have no place to be addressed at the highest levels.

carlk | 10. August 2013

@Pungoteague_Dave +1 There are probably hundreds of posts on this subject already yours sums up most people's feelings very nicely.

JoeFee | 10. August 2013

"@Suprkar | AUGUST 3, 2013 NEW
My thought is what ever happened to George?? Remember the lighted sun visors and pano roof shade not a word and almost a year ago these were promised! I don't expect a response...."

FYI: I have sent voice and emails to George B on another topics with no response to either. Either he has an over protective adm. or has chosen to go dark on 1/1 communications!

Brian H | 10. August 2013

I think adding the sensors required far more upstream mods than has been assumed. Not a simple "add-on".

George has been in China for some time, fencing with their army of 'crats.

jjaeger | 10. August 2013

PD +1

J.T. | 10. August 2013


Excellent post. I agree with you on most of your points. However, we did all sign a contract and some of us paid for fog lights and 3000 song storage, to name a couple of items. Are we whining when we now want some compensation for giving TM some slack early in the process?

TeslaEV | 10. August 2013

@Pungoteague_Dave The problem really wasn't about knowing or not knowing. Even if you knew you wouldn't have known what the actual cost difference would have been. This is about them being communicative and transparent. That would have avoided this whole situation. They did that in dec 2012. They announced the price increase and the reasons why and WHEN months before. And this gave the reservation holders a chance to finalize their orders. That was not the case this time. I do not believe this is a buyer's remorse since an apple product with a minor upgrade like the ipad last year was the same price as before. Right now with most options the cost for the same options are more but not necessarily better in hardware but the same. That is where the problem lies. I understand it is for margins and I don't have the problem and I welcome the new options but they just needed to communicate that. (Like I have posted before). If Tesla just wrote a letter stating that some things may increase in prices and depending on your options you may pay a much higher price, you may want to finalize it now. And if you want the new options you will need to redo everything. Saying this in advance would have helped with most of these issues. After all there is a fundamental difference between $450 for a phone and something 200-300 times that. Communication is everything in these cases.

jat | 10. August 2013

@TeslaEV - ask Nokia (and before them Osborne and others) how well pre-announcing product changes has worked for them.

Rick H | 10. August 2013

I have to say I agree with the main thought. Would be good customer service to offer this fir $500 or even a bit of an extra charge for those under the old pricing system.

ftlug | 10. August 2013

I am with you all.
I ordered the car.
Then almost immediately, the new option came out.
I asked several representatives of the company.
It seams they don't care.
You want it, scrap the order.
Reorder with the new pricing.
I did the math.
This $500 option would cost me close to $3500 to add based on the way I configured my car.
When I spoke with the local "Manager"
She said
"It will only cost you about $60-$70 a month more when you finance through Tesla." and
"don't get the twin batteries, most people don't need them".
for the last few days, I was on cloud 9 that I ordered a TESLA.
That is all gone now.

not sure what I am going to do.
I have 2 more days to cancel.

Brian H | 11. August 2013

Ditch the assumption that it's a trivial upgrade. It may need a whole new production order to implement.

And it's twin chargers, not twin batteries.

johnrysf | 11. August 2013

Just saw this thread, and it's now over a week since this issue hit. However, I think this should be an eminently do-able small, simple "no-brainer" for Tesla. It's not whining, it's not unfair to act in favor of a very small, discrete group of new owners who are in a special, fleeting situation. I'm a Tesla fan, but I'm dismayed enough to write now anyway. In hopes that Tesla may behave differently in the future, here is the e-mail that I just sent to Musk, Guillen, and Blankenship:

Hello Gentlemen:


I'm an Industrial Engineer (IE) and High Tech Project Manager (PM) with extensive hobbyist knowledge and experience with automobiles. I have become a serious, active advocate for Tesla Motors, the Model S, and Elon Musk. I believe you are making a serious mistake in not allowing an optional $500 Parking Sensor "add" for the small number of cars currently in the production queue, but not yet started.

I'm dismayed. Given that you should have planned for, and effected this small program a week ago, it is undoubtedly too late to do this now in a fair manner, but this should become a standard procedure for future discrete, add-on options.


I'm a 61-year old retiree who's been a car nut, er, enthusiast for 55 years. I've modified, fixed, and appreciated many ICE vehicles over the years. Other than a mild interest in the Volt - and, briefly, Fisker -I was unmoved by hybrids and EV's. Then came Tesla, and, for me, everything changed. I'll never buy another auto except a BEV, and that car will probably be a Tesla.

I've become an ardent, active fan of Tesla: I've enthusiastically told the story of the Model S, the company, and Elon Musk to my family, friends, acquaintances, doctor, car-curious strangers - you name it. I've written ~30 comments, to date, correcting misconceptions, and explaining and defending everything Tesla on a wide range of online websites.

Today, I stumbled across the 8/3/13 "LETTER TO GEORGE BLANKENSHIP" by ThorensP in "FORUMS". I would imagine you're all familiar with ThorensP's, and others', requests that you add the new $500 Parking Sensors to their about-to-be-manufactured Model S's - for $500.

In my career as an IE and High Tech PM, I designed/improved a variety of manufacturing facilities. I'm familiar with auto production systems and issues, and I've read all the comments on these Parking Sensor requests.

To be blunt: IMHO, you guys are blowing it. Admit it: There is no reason - physical production, production control system, or logistics - that you can't accommodate this small group of owners. You've admitted as much by offering to add the Parking Sensor option if the owners re-order their cars at the concurrent new, and significantly higher, prices for the entire car. More money, and notably delayed production? Not very nice, Tesla.

Forget about reconfigured option packages - it's a standalone option, and would be restricted to existing queued orders that include the prerequisite Tech Package - any amended provisioning, and any work order sequence problems. I must believe that, had you planned for this eventuality, you could have easily added any required code(s) and production resources to provide this. I hope you do it in the future.

Different, exceptional, inspirational, good for sales? Sure - what a fine opportunity for Tesla, at minimal cost, to prove again that it deserves to be evangelized by a growing cadre of devoted enthusiasts.

Thank you.

Best regards,

J.T. | 11. August 2013


I have to think that if your letter had been the first shot in the ensuing barrage things might have gone differently. At this point, they have said no to so many people it's hard to believe they'll do an about face like they did on the ESA fiasco a month ago.

I have no horse in this race, but I'm rooting for those of you who feel they have been wronged to be accommodated.

ThorensP | 11. August 2013

Thanks for adding your voice to this issue. Well written.

simplesolarinc | 11. August 2013

To me it sounds like more whining. Put yourself in Tesla's position. I run many small businesses and I try to accommodate all my clients needs. Sometime enough is just enough, some people are never happy. If they cave in on adding the parking sensors to those owners who are complaining. It will never stop. Next price increase and model update, more whiners will whine. Why do you feel entitled to special treatment when everyone that bought the car before got left out too? I don't have parking sensors and I purchased a 120k+ tesla. I clipped the front of my car first week because I couldn't gauge how wide the garage is vs the car. I don't complain about it, I simply learn how wide the car is and learn to drive better. Tesla has not wronged anyone, it's a business they are running. Quit whining.

CalabasasKid | 11. August 2013

As much as I "whined" a little in my letter to Jerome, I ultimately caved in and ordered the sensors after reconfiguring my car. I have to agree with simplesolarinc on this one. It's not as if TM refused to honor our old reservations. They were very prepared to take the hit and send off all of those cars at the older and lower price. I simply deleted the twin charger so that a $4200 up charge didn't turn into a $6900 up charge. I figured it was the one option I would use the least and could always have the service center add it later. I made sure to add the sensors and the fog lights as well as the weather package. No sense in not loading up with these goodies while I have the opportunity.

The more I think about it, the more convinced I am that part of the price increase is attributed to higher engineering and production costs associated with outfitting the cars with additional harnesses and related supporting equipment. Besides, there's no way on earth that I could have retrofitted all of these options, OEM style, for $4200. At the end of the day, I'm still rather pleased with the whole process.

biotweak | 13. August 2013

I too am in a similar weird situation with Tesla.

See this thread:

AmpedRealtor | 13. August 2013

I signed my MVPA today, check out the table from the configuration page (I added the highlights):

As you can see, the names for the new air suspension, sounds system and interior lighting packages have transferred over to my pre-8/1 P85 order. I am adding this as further evidence that the lighting package, air suspension and sound system are identical to the ones currently shipping with the exception of the name. Now I have confirmation that my pre-8/1 order is shipping with these "new" options but at the lower prices.

TommyBoy | 13. August 2013

You should see if they'll allow you to add the parking sensors to that order for $500. It's only one additional line item.

AmpedRealtor | 13. August 2013