Let me start off by saying I am a Tesla fan. I was one of the first to reserve a Model 3, I have Tesla Solar and a Powerwall, and I have accepted all the bugs and build quality issues of my Model 3 as long as Tesla is willing to fix them.
Bringing my car into Tesla Service has never been something I enjoyed, but I have never felt scammed and lied to, like I typically did at other brand service centers. This time was different.
I have had a rattling noise behind the steering wheel of my Model 3 for months. I took it into the Burbank service center twice for this issue, but after they do their repairs, the noise comes back. I figured I would try a different service center so I took it into the Costa Mesa Service Center.
When I took it to Burbank, I was usually not there longer than 30 minutes, so I figured this would be the same. I pulled into the driveway and parked behind a line of other Teslas, I got out and stood by an empty podium that had an open laptop on it. It looked like where a staff member would greet you and check you in, but after 5 minutes of no one showing up, I decided to walk inside. There was one staff member talking to somebody on my right, and another behind a desk to my left. He was was on the phone, but it looked like I should check in with him. I stood in front of him for about 5 minutes, and after no acknowledgement I was even there, I thought maybe he wasn't the person who checks people in, so I wandered back outside, then back inside. There was nobody else around. I caught another staff member as he was walking in and asked, "where do I check in?" He said, "Just wait in your car and somebody will come out to you," and he ran off. So I did just that.
After about 10 minutes, someone came to my car window and asked if I had an appointment. I said, "Yes, at 1:00." It was now 1:20. He put a tag on my windshield and left. After another 10 minutes, Dan came to my window. He asked what he could help me with and I said I have some rattling behind my steering wheel. He asked if there was anything else and I asked about scheduled maintenance. He explained they could do a tire rotation = $50 (I think), new wiper blades = $70, new tires if I wanted = over $300 each, brake fluid flush = I swore he said $140 because I asked him twice. I asked if he could check my brake fluid, but passed on everything else as it seemed very expensive.
As for the rattle, he brought over a technician, Manny (who seemed knowledgable and honest) to test drive and listen for the rattling.
After Manny drove and heard the rattle he told me to sit in the lobby and Dan would help me. After a couple minutes, Dan walks by looking for someone else. He said he could get me taken care of since he couldn't find the other guy and we started to go through the paperwork. Just then the other guy shows up and he tells me to wait while he takes care of him, so I sit for another few minutes.
Dan comes back and asks what I wanted to do. I asked if he could check the brake fluid and let me know if it needs to be changed and fix the rattle. He draws up the paperwork and it's $195 for the fluid flush and $97.50 to fix the rattle. I asked, "Isn't the rattle covered by warranty?" He says, "Well we just put a cost for labor down in case we find out it was due to outside forces like rats nibbling on wires or something." "But isn't this a carry-over from what the Burbank Service Center couldn't fix?" I asked. Then he started a word salad about the California Lemon Law and how if an issue isn't fixed by the fourth time you have the right to return the vehicle. That's why they put a labor cost on the estimate. (I am assuming so it looks like a new problem instead of an existing one.) "So you put down a cost to get around that law?" I asked. His next answer was like a politician deflecting a question, about how they are the hub for Tesla repairs and they get hundreds of cars a week, and they have experienced people there. I had to stop him from going on with his non-answer and said, "When I took it into Burbank, they had this zeroed out both times." He explained then that he always tried to side with the customer when it comes to warranty issues. He wants his customers to have a good experience and because it's only $100 he has no problem eating the cost.
I was positive rats didn't eat any wires so I said ok and signed the estimate.
He set me up with a rental car and I was off. What I thought would be 30 minutes took 2 hours.
After two days, my car was ready. I had received no emails or notifications during that period, so I figured the fluid did not have to be flushed and the rattle was covered by warranty. Tesla used to give out their own loaner vehicles, so I had been able to pick up my car whenever I had the time, sometimes three days after my car was ready, but now they use Enterprise which charges $100 a day, starting 24 hours from when your car is ready. Because I had to work, I had to send my wife to pick up my car.
Her experience was pretty much the same as mine. She parked and wandered around inside until catching someone who told her to sit and wait. After waiting for about 10 minutes, she flagged someone down and asked again. She was told to sit and wait. After 30 minutes of waiting, someone came out and asked, "Who's next?" She looked around at the other people waiting, and since no one knew who was next, she stood up and said, "I think it's me."
She called me and asked if there was going to be a charge and I said, "I didn't get any notification, so there shouldn't be." Turns out they charged her $292.50. She called back and had me talk to the staff member. I explained to him that Dan said he would notify me if there was going to be any charge. His response was, "You authorized the charges on the estimate." Since my wife had been there for 30 minutes already, I told her to pay it.
When I next talked to my wife, I asked her for the receipt. She said they didn't give her one. I then tried to look at the estimate they had emailed me to sign, but when I clicked the "review and sign" link, I was greeted with a "This document has already been signed," message, with no option to download. I hadn't received any invoices via email, or via the Tesla app either. I called the Service Center but there was no answer, so I left a message.
The next day I received a text from Dan:
Dan here, we want to thank you for choosing Tesla Costa Mesa Service Center. As your service advisor, I wanted to follow up with you to ensure that everything went smoothly, and we were able to resolve all of your concerns. Be sure to let me know if you have any questions in regards to the repairs performed on your vehicle. As I would be happy to go over anything upon your request.
Please note: You may be receiving a survey via email very soon. If I did not earn all 5's regarding your experience with our service center please reach out to myself so we can address your concerns together. The Survey exhibits a direct result of my service.
Thank you again for your great support, have a great day!
"Hi Dan, I may be mistaken, but I thought you had said you were going to check the brake fluid, and notify me of the results before moving forward with the brake fluid flush. I had never received any notifications/emails/calls, so I was under the impression everything was fine. I was surprised to be charged $200 for the flush when picking up my vehicle. The service rep said I had agreed to it in the estimate I signed, but when I try to retrieve it from my email, clicking the link simply takes me to a page saying I already signed the document, with no option to download it. I haven't received any invoices via email, Tesla app, or hard copy either. I called yesterday, but there was no answer, so I left a message. Can you personally email me a copy?"
I just sent the final invoice once again. Here is what my system shows:
01-Feb-2020 02:29 PM
I will forward both invoice and estimate as well.
I checked the invoice and saw I was charged for the fluid flush even though the invoice specifically states that the fluid was tested and did NOT need to be changed. I was also charged for the rattling.
I text him back:
"So I was charged for the rattling? That wasn't a warranty issue?"
"Yes. You were charged $97.50 for the rattle. This was not a warranty repair. Rattles and squeaks are only covered for the first 6 months of ownership."
"You told me I would only be charged if it was due to outside forces like rats. You mentioned nothing about 6 months. Was what you told me when I signed the document untrue?"
After 2 days with no response, I text:
"Hey Dan, I'm looking for a response to my last question."
He has yet to respond.
To be honest, I have had experiences like this before. I had to pull my car out of a shop once because they said they had to remove my whole engine to replace my headlight. Another quoted the price of a battery replacement on the phone, then charged me double. I am just so disappointed this was coming from Tesla. Whenever we took in our BMW or Mercedes to dealer service centers, we were greeted as soon as we drove up, checked in promptly, and offered water or coffee while we waited for a loaner. Never more than 10 minutes. (Tesla also used to wash your car, like other dealers do, but according to Tesla staff, it's more about cost than saving water.)
The Costa Mesa Service Center seems unorganized, uncaring, and it feels like your typical shady car shop.
This was my wife's first experience with Tesla. After months of trying to convince her to trade in her Mercedes SUV for a Model Y, she flatly rejected it saying, "I don't want to have to take my car to that shop. Tesla's service is so bad."