Tesla Reps Will Lie To You

Tesla Reps Will Lie To You

I will preface this post by saying I completely identify with Tesla, their product, and their bigger picture. That said, their in-store rep straight lied to me. Once the price increase was announced I was ready to put down my deposit. I decided to go to our local store, at the Topanga Westfield mall to ask a few questions and check out the car, again. One of the questions was regarding the price increase and the new seats. I asked if I put my reservation in before the price increase but my car was built anytime in 2013 what seats would be installed. The rep said "You get the best of both worlds! You get the lower price but the new heated seats!" Wow, I thought, this all sounds great. I reserved. I occasionally visit the forums, but don't spend a significant amount of time on them. After I finalized recently I checked the forum and saw an entry on a random post that completely refuted what the Tesla rep had said.

I contacted my build rep, Jeff Chu, and asked if the new heated seats (I'm getting textile) would be installed in the car. Jeff said no.

Let me interject to say I get that Tesla is a start-up. I get there's been growing pains. I can stomach the cracked windshields, the doors popping open, the distortion with the windshield, the numerous software bugs and glitches, the water in the rear light, paying a ridiculous amount for the tech package, the waiting for parts, and everything else that's been brought up- which has been substantial. But when I'm told something by an official company representative that impacts my basic expectations for what's included with the car, I expect that to be true, why wouldn't I? I just don't expect to be told something that's simply not true by a rep to get a reservation made. And maybe the rep didn't know, but that's not on me, that's on Tesla. I'm fine if that's the policy and if I would have been told that from the beginning but I wasn't.

Jeff, who was receptive and polite, brought the issue up with his manager. No help. Can either get it as is, cancel my order, or transfer payment to Model X.

The lesson- never trust an in-store rep. The concern- Why can't they train and inform their employees properly?

As an entrepreneur myself who has dealt with start-up woes, I would always stand behind the customer, even if it meant eating a certain level of cost, while the issue was sorted out. They could have easily flipped the bill for their cost of new front seats (what $500? against an $85,000 car) and boom, I would've been a happy camper. Instead, I'm frustrated.

lph | February 6, 2013

Saddened to hear about that.
Integrity is the best sales pitch in the long run IMO.

Baj | February 6, 2013

I was also told by a rep that heated seats would be included with non-leather seats for my pre 2003 reservation. I have yet to finalize and would like a definitive answer.

Brian H | February 6, 2013

IMO, the rep had misunderstood the policy, and communicated his misunderstanding. That said, he was acting as an agent of the company, and TM should arrange some "saw-off" with you, and make a horrible example of the employee for others to learn from.

Big Tex | February 6, 2013

@Baz- the definitive answer is no, they will not be included.

@Iph- exactly. I believe the true test of a start-up is how they respond to the inevitable customer service issues both big and small. While I hear good things about some, my first-hand experience says otherwise.

Big Tex | February 6, 2013

@Brian H- My thoughts exactly. If the policy would have been presented correctly this first time I wouldn't be writing this, but it wasn't. The forum is the only way I found out and while it's a wonderful tool, and I've enjoyed many entries from you and others, it shouldn't have to be mandatory to check on every detail of what's been promised by the company.

gregv64 | February 6, 2013

I agree with most of what you say, but to say "Lie" means that the rep definitely knew what they were saying was wrong and said it anyway. It's still true it's Tesla's fault if the rep gave you faulty information, but it isn't lying.

gregv64 | February 6, 2013

I will say there are many many examples of reps who have said things that didn't turn out to be true. I think they have a tendency to say things they've heard, without checking on them.

Big Tex | February 6, 2013

@gregv64- I hear you. It certainly FEELS like being lied too when you're told one thing, which builds expectations, and the company does another. It's true I don't know if the rep definitively knew or not- either way, it's extremely disappointing on many levels.

petero | February 6, 2013

Big Tex. Lies! I think that is a bit strong. I suspect TM is consistent. TM consistently communicates poorly with their customers, they probably communicate poorly with their sales staff too. If I were you, I would consider paying the $1,500 for the leather with heated seats and buy some textile seat covers and be happy to save $400.

After waiting 2.5 years, I just received my 60kWh MS (Ventura County). I am happy to say all is forgiven - a truly amazing automobile.

jat | February 6, 2013

I also got cloth seats and wanted the 12-way adjustability and heated seats. I assumed when it was announced that there was no way to keep the old pricing and get the new seats, and my rep agreed though he did say at some point they will run out of the old seats and they would likely just switch to the new ones at that point, but no guarantees on when or if. As it turned out, I switched off of red and got my car much earlier, so the question was moot.

I got different answers from different people, but I never felt like I was being lied to -- only that there were a lot of people trying to answer tons of questions and things were in flux where there may not have even been one correct answer, much less known by everyone.

Big Tex | February 6, 2013

@petero- There is no doubt, I was deceived. I just wonder at point their poor communication skills will stop being racked up to being a start-up and when they'll actually have to take responsibility for the things they say. Now would be good.

I could also cancel my order and just reorder to get the seats (can't do leather for other reasons) but that's really not the issue nor is saving $400- it's the fact that Tesla should own up to what they say. Integrity. Honesty. And all the other principles that Tesla should stand for.

Vawlkus | February 6, 2013

Even decieved isn't really true unless you can prove that the rep you talked to KNEW what he was tellinjg you was not accurate, which we'll never be able to prove or disprove here.

A betrayal of trust is what you're experiencing, which feels bad, but isn't an outright lie.

If it makes you feel any better, you can submit the name of the guy that misinformed you straight to GB himself. I doubt that particular rep will get his info wrong a second time after that ;)

Big Tex | February 6, 2013

@jat- I suppose I only got one answer from one person but that should hold water since it came from an actual rep. Isn't time we start to hold them to some level of responsibility? Shouldn't they know the answers? Shouldn't management give clear and concise training? The rep seemed confident in his answer so I took at as truth while it wasn't. Congrats on the car- it's a fantastic product without a doubt.

Crow | February 6, 2013

You now know the facts and know your options, so pick one.

Big Tex | February 6, 2013

@Vawlkus- I just think whatever I'm feeling should not go along with an $85,000 purchase and that Tesla should take some sort of responsibility for what is put out in their name by company reps. I don't have GB's email- where can I find it? I don't want to see the company fail, quite the opposite, which is why I wrote this- so anyone I can tell, I will! Thanks! :)

Vawlkus | February 6, 2013

I know it's around here somewhere on these forums, but I don't have it handy. I'm on my iPhone or I'd volkerize it for ya :)

Check Tom's thread here somewhere, it's called "I'm through with Tesla", or something similar. He had to get GB involved as well, and I'm pretty sure the email was linked in that thread.

Big Tex | February 6, 2013

@Crow- sometimes it's healthy for a company to eat some- crow, that is.

Big Tex | February 6, 2013

@Vawlkus- Thank you, I will look!

Timo | February 6, 2013

I think Tesla has hired a typical US salespersons there IOW, customer is always right, don't ever hesitate to answer even if you don't have a clue what he is talking about, never show that you don't know what you are talking about, be firm and assuring, make the customer happy. Always smile. (and don't give customer time to think).

That leads to unhappy customer if the guess he makes was wrong, and happy customer when the guess happen to be right. If he needed to guess.

Problem is that they are not taught to give answer "I don't know, but I will check and get back to you when I find out" and actually also do that checking. These people are not engineers. If you ask engineer you get straight answer, but tone of the answer might not be quite so pleasing which again might lead to unhappy customer.

petero | February 6, 2013

Big Tex, ‘Eating Crow.’ TM ate quite a bit of crow with the super charger pricing announcement last year and made things right for many reservation holders. I am sure not everyone was happy especially those who have to pay $2K to have supercharging.

Mistakes happen. I use to sell cars. I have frequently observed sales, parts, service writers, repair staff, F &I managers, and sales managers make technical mistakes and not be fully versed in all the options, price and option changes, etc. Newer associates are more likely to make mistakes. I am familiar with the Topanga showroom, and visited it in mid- January, there was not a familiar face in the showroom.

I apologize if I am wrong, but the showroom staff do not sell cars, they show the car's features, answer questions, or try to. You order the car on line. I think TM should apologize for the error, and offer you the opportunity to either rescind the sale or move forward. TM cannot treat one customer different than another. That is why customers who pick up their cars in Fremont pay the same delivery charges as those in Florida. That doesn't sound very fair, does it?

Personally, I agree with you. You have suffered an ‘outrageous wrong.’ The sales person, should be shot, hung by the neck until dead, then fired from TM, his/her family should live in disgrace… and you should be given a free car. Now are you happy?

“Only this, and nothing more.' Quoth the raven, Nevermore! ”

Mistakes happen. Hopefully you can move past this incident. I promise you the 'S' is well worth it. I had a showroom staffer try to convince me I needed twin chargers, which I didn't buy. Perhaps in the future the staffer will prove to be right.

Brian H | February 6, 2013

You asked about GB's email. It is .

Big Tex | February 6, 2013

@petero- superchargers were before my entry point so I was fine paying 2k for it with the 60. The same with the "delivery" charge- it's known and the policy is given out to everyone, unlike the information I was given regarding the seats.

I don't want the sales rep fired or anything like that. And it's not an angle to get anything for free- I was happy to lay out $85,000 for the car, a few thousand dollars over a finance period is not a big deal. It's the lack of business principle for taking responsibility for your staff and of standing behind a customer that is bothersome. I'll be happy when they can do that for their customers.

That's the thing- if I was presented the proper policy by a company representative there would be no issue.

Pardon the disagreement but it's ludicrous to believe a company like Tesla who sells luxury goods and not on a large (yet) volume, cannot offer a certain level of personalized care for a mistake that was made on their part. This isn't a big box store for vehicles.

Regarding the online experience- Tesla staff is there to fill the gaps the online experience lacks. They are meant to be the interface with the customer when the website cannot. So, if the website had wrong information or if the staff give wrong information is the same thing and if that information leads one to purchase something under a certain pretense or expectation which is then not meant, frustration ensues at the fault of the company.

@Timo nails it. Why is it so hard to say, "I'm not sure, let me check for you."

If the rep didn't know or was given wrong info from corporate then either scenario is still on Tesla.

Maybe I'm old school, or too principled but yes, mistakes happen but I believe they should be handled to the satisfaction of the customer.

Big Tex | February 6, 2013

@Brian H- you're the man, thank you for that! I will write an email tonight.

Vawlkus | February 6, 2013

Thanks Brian, I just found it at random in another thread, but it's already here :P

@Tex: some people just hate to say "I don't know". It implies they aren't perfect, which goes against their self image and ego. :P

Big Tex | February 7, 2013

I've sent George an email.

@Vawlkus- thank you for thinking of me. You're right about the ego and I'm sure MY ego has a role in this as well. I've learned that when principles are involved the ego is most always intertwined. Recognizing that is one thing, learning to stay in your higher Self and peeling away the layers of conditioning to reach a more conscious and mindful state is another :)

adstein | February 7, 2013

First, I am sure that this was not a lie. Second, they are offering to make you whole in the sense that you have the same options you would have had if the rep gave you the correct information. Sure it is a bummer but I see this as a minor issue and not worthy of tarnishing th Tesla brand.

Big Tex | February 7, 2013

@adestein- your definition of "whole" is different than mine. I was never given the option of getting the seats installed. Of course I suppose I could cancel and re-order but that's not helpful and that's not with Tesla taking any responsibility. I'm also not trying to "tarnish" Tesla- as I said in my original post, I am a believer. I am simply sharing an authentic experience- a bad experience due to misinformation given to me by a Tesla rep.

Big Tex | February 7, 2013

@olachampcar made a comment on the other thread:

"I sense a certain amount of hubris on the part of some Tesla management. Call it an Apple mentality where there is less urgency to address issues to the benefit of both parties. I've found the initial responses to be very one sided. It is my opinion that this will wear off quickly when the idealism of Silicon Valley Tesla management makes its way through compliant early adopters and runs head long into the mainstream luxury car sales cycle. This is just my take on it and only time will tell"

lov2krz | February 7, 2013

Well I was going to start by saying you can never solely rely on a sales rep but I didn't realize that the website (just checked it one minute ago) says:

Finely appointed interior features hand wrapped surfaces of cloth and synthetic leather materials. 12-way power adjustable, heated seats with memory.

This is what they are listing in their own spec's and option page at:

I think if your car doesn't come with heated adjustable seats you have a valid claim.

Brian H | February 7, 2013

That's the New Pricing Dispensation, not the 2012 one.

lov2krz | February 7, 2013

I don't think it matters. I placed our reservation during the 2012 build period but when I finalized in late December it was for a 2013 MS. If they are delivering a 2013 MS it should come with what's advertised when you finalize not when you placed your reservation.

Tiebreaker | February 7, 2013

@lov2krz - Are you paying the 2012 pre-increase price?

misanthropic1 | February 7, 2013

Sorry for long-winded response but just noting that I had almost identical situation.

Definitely seems like training and communication issues, I do not feel it was intentional either.

Unfortunately for us, it's going to seem like a moot point to Tesla since it's a transitional issue going from their pre-2013 to 2013 default configurations. Not an "ongoing problem" to rectify. Just victims of very specific circumstance and poor coordination and communication. Will not be an issue for others until next time they change default configuration of the cars.

I may be slightly less upset than you are but am somewhat disappointed in that I feel that I was not afforded the chance to make a decision based on complete and factual information.

I had a res from 2011 originally, and held off from my Sept 2012 invitation to configure because

1) many, many details were still just emerging regarding not just basic configuration, but other buyer experiences and warranty details (like what does the battery warranty really mean), who actually installs the paint armor, factory or third party, do they really know how to detail a car properly? etc

2) was still contemplating the right battery config in light of all experiences and data available not to mention details of how the battery warranty would really work where limited miles are involved. After all, it's a pretty big purchase.

After the notice about January deadline to finalize or be subject to the price increase, it was as if all the 2012 information was purged from Tesla's memory banks, website, staff, whatever, and all communication and facts were focused solely on 2013 model details. So unless you had all the obscure pre-2013 details burned into your memory banks, surprise! It's kind of like how the 60kwh car originally said supercharing hardware was "included" in Sept 2012 but then not long afterwards, it became a $2000 upgrade without any specific announcement about the change, if it was poorly worded before on the website, whatever. Hmmm...just keeps getting more expensive.

Even I, at first glance, originally misunderstood GB's price bump communication to mean that we were going to get whatever they were building now in 2013 for our 2012 price as long as we met the specific deadline (incentive to get off the fence). Without thinking about it too much, it might have seemed like one of those "gimme's" for the old time loyal givers of the "interest-free $5k loan". After all, we've given Teslsa our $5k loan longer than people who were just putting their reservations in. Loyal and early adopter perks, right. Nope, actually feel kind of taken for granted and penalized like "oh, you are so yesterday, you 2012 people, what? you want to know what you are buying? oh, well, ok, let me see, I think we can still order those sub-standard seats for you.

In my particular world, December is work HELL, so no time to think about finalizing an optional car purchase. Therefore in January 2013, coincidentally, I ALSO visited the local Topanga store to take another look, get information refreshed. All very friendly staff, enthusiastic. Talked for a long time about the car in general, talked with other new customers browsing the cars, talked with staff about having the 2012 reservation and coming up against the Jan 2013 price deadline. Talked with staff about generally preferring textile interiors to the leather. Now, wouldn't you think MAYBE the person would say "hey, if you have a 2012 reservations, you need to know is that the 2013 seats will actually be different than the old textile seats, so you may want to reconsider that in light of the features you would get for the $2,500 price bump and if it's worth it to you". NOPE. Now, remember, all the "old data" has been purged from the website about the old "8 way adjustable" seats, what that means as compared to 12-way and there was ALSO never any emphasis on the fact that if you decide against leather, you do NOT get seat MEMORY either. So pick your preference or poison. Nope, just basically silence other than "12 way adjustable seats will be standard" and base car and other stuff will be more expensive. Truth is, the staff probably never even knew about the old seats either! The other thing, pretty much all the showroom and test drive cars were leather, not textile.

I MIGHT have reconsidered buying up to leather for $1,500 or upgraded textile for $2,500 to get the lumbar adjustments and seat memory for husband with back issues, but unfortunately, since I hadn't been cruisng the "user forums", the information was inadequate to realize this difference even existed. I found the "seat memory" issue by reading the forums, never from official Tesla communications on the matter.

Since I was a 2012 reservation holder, unfortunately, my configuration literally FLEW right though as soon as we e-signed and immediately went to status "forwarded to factory". Done deal according to Tesla even though I called just a couple of days later after I stumbled into the lumbar adjustment issue.

So bottom line is that while Tesla is a different company in a lot of ways, they suffer from many of the same challenges of other companies in operation.

Epley | February 8, 2013

Have you ever dealt with Comcast/Verizon/Sony/Microsoft/insert other big company here? Big companies hire lots of people, and sometimes the training isn't always up to snuff, or the employee isn't up to snuff. It doesn't make it a lie. Lying implies intent to deceive, and it seems likely that this person told you that fully knowing it was false. It doesn't make it right, but it's not a lie.

I think you're making a mountain out of a molehill. You don't have the car yet, and haven't paid for it. And now you know the facts. Make a decision and move on. Emailing George Blankenship over this? Ridiculous. Why do you need to vault the chain of command and take a minor training issue to the top of the company? I see no need. Talk with the person's manager, and let it go.

Big Tex | February 8, 2013

@Epley- what's ridiculous is comparing a relatively low volume luxury automaker to Comcast/Verizon/Sony/Microsoft. I'm not buying a $50/month phone plan.

I'm asking of Tesla is to take accountability for their actions and until I feel I'm heard by the company, which hasn't happened yet, I will go to the most senior level person I can- thus the vaulting the chain of command. I believe it will strengthen the experience for buyers and make Tesla a better company- you don't want that? I'm not alone in this belief.

Bubba2000 | February 8, 2013

My friend receive his Sig loaded up. Except for a few software glitches that were fixed via upgrades. the car has been flawless after a couple of months. The performance is superb and the quality of the outside is as good as any hi end car. The interior controls are much better than a hi end BMW or Mercedes. Seats could be improved. I like the Lexus seats, etc. Much better than Porsche 911 or Panamera. My friend has a Mercedes S600 parked next to it... looks dated, even though the sustained power of the V-12 with twin turbos is impressive at hi speeds.

lov2krz | February 8, 2013

Tiebreaker, yea payed the 2012 price got delivery yesterday.

Crow | February 9, 2013

Thanks, Big Tex. I am really interested in hearing whether George B. puts it right. We are all on the edge of our seats and appreciate that you are campaigning for the good of the company rather than simply looking for an excuse to get a freebie. Personally, I don't know how you can carry on given this horrible wrong that you have suffered. Stay strong, brother!

Big Tex | February 9, 2013

Update- Thanks for the comments everyone. The issue has been resolved to both mine and Tesla's satisfaction. Excited to take delivery!

Brian H | February 10, 2013

Aha, an NDA, huh? Nosy minds want to know ...

Crow | February 10, 2013

I seriously doubt Tesla would give anything other than an apology and a coffee mug or other token. Customers have experienced more serious mistakes and have not gotten anything significant out of them thus far. Problems with the car have been corrected but that has pretty much been it.