TESLA consumers beware

TESLA consumers beware

I suffered a total loss of my 2017 Tesla Model S (my second Tesla) while it was being serviced at the Tesla Dealership in Dania Beach, Florida on a service call to fix a brake job they didn’t fix properly when the car had around 5,000mi on it. While waiting for parts to be ordered, the car was parked by a Tesla technician in an outdoor loading dock space that was angled 35 degrees below the ground level, with the front load of the car well below service lot level. The drainage system where the car was parked was not properly maintained and was clogged with live vegetation and impacted soil. After a weekend of rains, water accumulated in this sub-basin area of the service lot and failed to drain and, as a result, my Tesla entire front end was submerged underwater until the Tesla dealership opened the following Monday. The car has been deemed a total loss. Tesla told me to call my insurance company!

What I find important to share is that while I have suffered a total loss of my vehicle at the hands of Tesla, not a single Manager ever reached out to me as a gesture of good customer service. My numerous calls to Management were never returned. It’s been 6 weeks and not a single manager has reached out to me to try to discuss my loss. I was left only to speak with a non-manager “service advisor” who would give me periodic updates on Tesla’s attempts to diagnose the extent of the damage. Rather than call me to talk to me about this, Tesla referred this to their Legal Department. They completely disregarded that I am a CONSUMER and deserve answers. I wrote letters to Gus Cobeaga, Regional Service Manager and I received a “Read Receipt” so while he read it, he never reached out to me. In fact, he has turned away 2 calls that I have attempted to make to him directly and the operator returned to me and said, “The matter is with Legal.” I have never received a single communication from “Legal” nor a phone call. When I asked “who” in Legal is handling this, I am told that no one can find a name of a lawyer or even a number for the Legal Department. I have also written letters with Photos to Bill Madden, District General Manager and to Jullian Percella, Tesla Regional Marketing Manger --- crickets. No one has responded to me. Not a call. Not an email.

As progressive as Elon Musk’s breakthroughs have been – the customer service and management dissipates when Tesla has to be accountable for its actions. Do they think I will “forget” that I’ve lost $85,000 because of their actions? By building a communication wall, they are apparently giving me no other choice than to sue them in court, which I do NOT want to do! This is an unfair practice to force me into litigation. ALL TESLA CONSUMERS BEWARE!

Madatgascar | June 26, 2018

That’s terrible! Does your insurance cover the car in this case? Tesla should cover your deductible and expenses - and possibly try to recover from whoever is responsible for maintaining the drains in the area.

Once matters go to “legal” there is always a lag in communication, and everyone else is told not to comment. You don’t need to go straight to a lawsuit, you can have an attorney send a letter to them outlining your damages and plans to escalate, and let them follow up. You don’t need the brain damage.

bonnie | June 26, 2018

GEICO is working with us, but the fact that Tesla did not reach out to us to help resolve the issue for over 4 weeks is ridiculous. Zero customer support, no emails or phone calls before it went to legal. We had no choice but to escalate.

Nexxus | June 26, 2018


I fail to see why your insurance company should handle this. It was at a Tesla SC, their lot, their insurance. Should be as simple as that. They need to cover you for your loss.

lilbean | June 26, 2018

I agree. This doesn’t seem right. I’m pretty sure my service center would not do that to me.

Rocky_H | June 26, 2018

@Nexxus, Yes, but this kind of thing is always handled between insurance companies. Tesla's side is at fault, but @bonnie's Geico rep handles the communication to make sure Tesla's insurance pays and covers everything.

lilbean | June 26, 2018

+1 Rocky

johnyi | June 26, 2018

Agree with Rocky. GEICO has a bigger legal department than Tesla :-) That's partly what you pay insurance companies for - to get access to their lawyers to fight for you (really they protect GEICO, but it's in GEICO's interest for Tesla to pay up so they don't have to).

Tesla-David | June 26, 2018

I am sorry to hear about @bonnie's terrible experience, and find it incredibly difficult to understand the reaction by her SC to the loss. I know that the Seattle SC would never react that way, and would have been more sympathetic to what happened, as it was obviously their negligence that caused the damage to her car. In my close to 6 years of Tesla ownership with three cars to date, I have only received exemplary service and customer care at the Seattle SC.

SO | June 26, 2018

That is really unfortunate as Bonnie has been a major proponent of Tesla. It sounds like these people should have been let go.

Hopefully Bonnie you can escalate this from your account page.

Yodrak. | June 26, 2018

"I fail to see why your insurance company should handle this."

I disagree with you, and agree with others that the OP should report her loss to her insurance company. Her insurance company will then go to Tesla to pay for the loss. The insurance company will put up a much stronger fight than the OP can do with her own lawyer.

bp | June 26, 2018

First, it is unfortunate this happened, and it's not surprising when something unusual like this does happen with Tesla, that it is a learning experience for them, and they may not always handle these situations as well as more established companies.

Whenever there is damage done to a vehicle, especially something causing the car to likely be a total loss, recommending you contact your insurance company is a reasonable response - and the insurance company will do whatever they can to recover as much of the loss as possible from Tesla - that's their business, and how they control their losses - by getting the responsible parties (or their insurance) to pay when the owner isn't at fault.

However, Tesla's reaction is puzzling - and not consistent with the service I've seen since receiving our first Tesla in early 2013 - and likely many other Tesla owners have seen.

Companies usually send issues to legal only when a consumer has threatened or mentioned the possibility of taking legal action - and once that has been raised by the consumer, the company has to refer all subsequent interactions to the legal department.

If Tesla sent this issue to legal, it's likely they believed the owner was preparing to take legal action, and even if the OP didn't intend that, if the OP said anything that indicated that was a possibility, then Tesla (like any other organization) would likely have done the same.

Clearly Tesla could have handled this situation better.

Cars should not be parked in locations where they would be at risk of damage.

If a Tesla is damaged by a Service Center, this should be viewed as a major exception - and escalated to local, regional or corporate management to handle the response to the customer. Having a total loss on a vehicle at a Service Center is not something a "service advisor" should be handling...

And, Tesla's response should not have been to send everything to "legal" immediately - they should have tried to work with the customer first, and help get the matter resolved.

Incidents like this will happen, especially as the number of Tesla vheicles rapidly increases - so Tesla should learn from this - improve their handling of these situations - and as long as the owner doesn't plan to directly take legal action against Tesla, Tesla should work with the customer to resolve the matter, as amicably as possible.

bonnie | June 27, 2018

Thank you to everyone who has responded. I am very grateful for your informed insights.
After more than 4 weeks of an unresponsive management, I did copy a friend who is an attorney on a letter I wrote to the Regional, District and Marketing Managers. This is certainly not a justification for Tesla management to refuse me a response. This letter was not threatening at all, and was clear that I wanted to work out an equitable result as between consumer (me) and Tesla.
At this point, I am confident that “Legal” will only fight me rather than help me reach the right result with Tesla. Helping me reach the right result is what managers do, not lawyers. But the Managers at Dania Beach and in the Florida region never gave me that consumer respect. I’m not in this for a fight – I just want to be put back in the same position I was when I happily handed over my Tesla to the dealership to fix my brakes (again). I am willing to speak with “Legal” – whoever and wherever they may be found, but they are no where to be found and no one from Legal has ever called me or reached out to respond to me – just like the Tesla Managers. I guess they are waiting for me to file a lawsuit before they make a move and THAT – I believe – is the worst customer service that can be found anywhere in the car market, and far below the higher standards I would expect in the luxury car market industry.
Who am I supposed to talk to now? No one from Tesla will respond or take my call. I guess I just wait?

bonnie | June 27, 2018

I have read and it suggests there is a way to escalate to Tesla executives, but this article is from last year and I do not see the option on my Tesla page. Anyone have the option?

SamO | June 27, 2018

Tesla cannot respond to an attorney-represented person.


lilbean | June 27, 2018

You get to be on electrek news soon.

Tesla-David | June 27, 2018

I can relate an issue I had with my 2012 MS85, which was only resolved in early 2013 after I wrote George Blankenship (CEO) to express my concern. When I configured my 2012 MS, I configured with non-leather seats, and did not know at that time that doing so would mean no seat heaters, or other functionality present in the leather seats. That difference changed subsequently, but my car had seats with virtually no functionality, which upset me having just paid $88k+ for my MS, and that I was not informed by Tesla POC at that point. Had I known that I would have opted to get the leather seats. After elevating my concern to Tesla and getting nowhere, I wrote George Blankenship directly, and that promptly got action, and my seats were subsequently replaced with fully functional seats with seat heaters. I have not had to elevate any concerns since then, but would advise @bonnie to elevate your experience with your SC to Tesla management. If it is in the hands of lawyers now, as @SamO has indicated, maybe it is too late for that kind of interaction. However, Tesla management needs to know how you were treated, which is unacceptable IMHO.

bonnie | June 27, 2018

I never expressed to Tesla that I was (or am) represented by counsel, and a cc on a letter does not mean that I am represented by counsel. Tesla Management is sophisticated enough that they should know that. And, btw, they never responded in the 4 ½ weeks leading up to the letter that cc my family attorney friend – so what was Tesla’s excuse before the letter was written?

Rocky_H | June 27, 2018

Definitely this, that @bp said:

Quote: "Whenever there is damage done to a vehicle, especially something causing the car to likely be a total loss, recommending you contact your insurance company is a reasonable response - and the insurance company will do whatever they can to recover as much of the loss as possible from Tesla - that's their business, and how they control their losses - by getting the responsible parties (or their insurance) to pay when the owner isn't at fault."

Your car insurance isn't just for them to pay for things. The other part of what you pay car insurance for is for them to just "handle stuff" on your behalf. That is how the auto insurance industry works. You report things, and if they don't want to have to pay it themselves, (which they shouldn't in this case), they WILL get the money from whoever should be paying for it. That's not being mean, but you do need to just sic that dog on them, and let them do what they need to do, so you don't need to worry about it.

rxlawdude | June 27, 2018

Just be aware that your own insurance company may not pursue loss of use or extended rental periods with the at-fault party.

DonS | June 27, 2018

Let insurance deal with it. Tesla has insurance too, and undoubtedly the insurance companies have normal channels to deal with it. I recognize this is a big deal for the person with the destroyed car, but it is just a typical day for the insurance companies. The main thing you are likely to get out of Tesla is the deductible on your insurance.

SUN 2 DRV | June 27, 2018

Also note that Tesla may feel the actual liability lies with the poor maintenance of that facility or even a city's storm drain infrastructure. They probably have been advised to not make any direct statements that might affect their ability to go after either their landlord or the city.

There are lots of possibilities, but it's appropriate for your insurance company to try to recover everything on your behalf from any and all parties involved.

wmyers | June 27, 2018

You seem to be confusing customer service with negligence. It's like if the local priest punches you in the face and you're blaming the Catholic religion.

lilbean | June 27, 2018

Dumb analogy.

carlk | June 27, 2018

SO I don't think it's the same Bonnie you have in mind.

VicF | June 28, 2018

If the property is leased by Tesla the property owner may also be responsible for negligence.

SO | June 29, 2018

@carlk- ah. Thanks.

bonnie | June 29, 2018

I contacted my insurer and GEICO determined it was a Total Loss. GEICO has offered me $6,000 less than KBB and even if they eventually come up to KBB value – which I’m trying to get them to at least do - the reality is that I’ll be out another $10K out of pocket (at a minimum) trying to get myself back into a Tesla with my same upgrades, low miles and accident free. Plus, my $1,000 deductible. There is no question, Tesla needs to make up this difference and put me back in the position that I was in when I dropped off my Tesla.

The ARROGANCE of Tesla demonstrated by their collective and complete lack of responsiveness to me is astounding. Even after I have personally communicated assurances to an abyss of Tesla managers’ emails that I am not represented by a lawyer, that I do not want to be put into a position where I have to hire a lawyer; rather, I am a consumer who is desperate to speak with Management who can give me answers about how they can make me whole. The only way I surmise my letter was referred to legal is through Jason, the nice toll-free Tesla operator who answered my call when I was trying to reach Gus Cobeaga (Regional Service Manager in south Florida). The operator put me on hold for 4 minutes, returned and told me that Cobreaga will not take my call to discuss what happened at his Dania Beach Service Center, but he referred the matter to “Legal”. I would never expect this lack of accountability by a Manager when an accident occurs on his watch at his Service Center.

As of the moment of this writing, zero response to my email and/or letters to Bill Madden (District General Manager), Gus Cobeaga (Regional Service Manager), Jillian Percella (Regional Marketing Manager), Tesla Legal (whoever and wherever THAT is), Can someone out there please elevate this thread to someone from Tesla who will address me?

SO | June 29, 2018

@Bonnie - did you ever find the escalate option on your account page? Click “manage” for your car and then you should see it farther down the page in the support section.

If it was parked in a public location, perhaps contact the city.

SamO | June 29, 2018


Perhaps you shouldn't have CC'd your lawyer friend. You are now represented and Tesla cannot talk to you.

Plus, WTF is a manager going to do? This is handled by a Tesla umbrella insurance. Nobody on your list of contacts has the ability to "solve" your problem.

Talk to your insurance company . . .they are handling this.

SUN 2 DRV | June 29, 2018

Bonnie GEICO should be taking better care of you. It's THEIR job to make you whole again, even getting the other party to pay for your deductible. I agree with SamO that Tesla can't really talk with you. They need to deal with a single party and that's GEICO. Multiple parallel conversations only adds confusion and misunderstanding.

Start telling GEICO what you want/need to settle this claim and let them work on your list.

rlwrw | June 29, 2018

I have found that the fastest way to escalate an issue, and get it resolved, is to put an investigative video reporter on the case.

bonnie | June 29, 2018

Quick update to all: I finally got a call this afternoon from the Service Manager from Dania Beach. He was not specific but said Tesla will work with me. I am cautiously optimistic. Interestingly, an NBC Consumer Investigative Reporter also reached out to me this afternoon and asked for details; I told her that at this juncture, I want to give Tesla the first chance to make this right before sharing my story with a news channel. I’ll keep you all posted. Great to have a strong Tesla community behind me.

Tropopause | June 29, 2018

Glad to hear you're making progress. Not happy about the NBC reporter calling you as I'm sure his agenda has nothing to do with helping consumers (in the case of Tesla), and everything to do with smearing Tesla.

lilbean | June 29, 2018

You shared it here so, the story is out there. Hence, you didn’t give Tesla the first chance.

DonS | June 29, 2018

Since you want to replace your car with another Tesla, Geico is going to be reluctant to pay full retail knowing part of the replacement cost is a Tesla profit. In my experience, it always costs me something when dealing with insurance, but perhaps a special discount from Tesla on the replacement car can cover most of it.

ravisundaramam | June 30, 2018

@DonS : Typically insurance will pay the blue book value of the car, and it is up to you to replace it or not.

If you have comprehensive coverage it does not matter who should be ultimately liable. Your insurance will pay you off, and try to dunn payment from the other parties.

bp | June 30, 2018

If Tesla is willing to help, the best strategy for the OP is likely to drop off the forums, and try to work with Tesla directly to find a reasonable solution.

Talking with attorneys or reporters or posting information online will likely only complicate matters.

And even if Tesla does work this out to the OP's satisfaction, it may be best for the OP to keep the details of that result private - and not put Tesla into a position of setting a precedent for anyone else in a similar situation.

We bought our 3rd Tesla last week - and while Tesla may be frustrating to deal with at times, they've done all right by us...

mitbar93 | September 7, 2018

My car has been in the shop since April. Tesla can’t find parts and today I found out the last part they sent was wrong and we are starting over again. Five months on a simple repair. Is anyone responding to Tesla in any organized fashion? I get nothing but worthless yet friendly responses

NKYTA | September 7, 2018

I just had a 2012 S windshield sourced and installed. 2 week call. 48hr time at Service.

Got new firmware and the steering bolt recall done.

Burlingame CA is the flagship SvC!

Held off on pizza or confections, 6th annual coming up. They’ll get there extra $ for markup on new Conti shoes for NKYTA in a few months.

Left the loaners for those that wanted to try out a Tesla. Wife dropped me off in her brand new 3,for pickup, I asked “is there anything wrong with our 3D that needs addressing”? “Um, my drivers side door you have to slam a bit”. Nah, put some elbow into it.

Just have to find her old Mustang a good home, then ICE free.