Body Shop before delivery.

Body Shop before delivery.

I just received a call that my sig performance was going to be delivered this Saturday. Super excited UNTIL I got another call saying they found scratches on the bottom of the right bumper and the car will need to go to the bodyshop to be repaired! I ordered the paint armor so the scratches had to be pretty bad. I asked my DS to send me a photo.

Here's the thing. For the money I am paying, I really do not want a new car that has been to the body shop before it has been delivered to me! The bigger issue is my wife - who has been very supportive of the purchase - says she wants a different car than that one! She doesn't want to pay for a new car that has had body work.

What do you think?

I am a huge Tesla fan but this is very dis-appointing.I know its not there fault but still....

Ohms.Law | 15/11/2012

I wouldn't jump to conclusions. They are likely being hyper critical of making sure everything is as perfect as possible. "Body shop" I agree makes it sound as if the frame is bent, which of course it isn't. Hang in there. You will never look back once your Model S arrives!

Vall | 15/11/2012

If they change a bumper or a body panel, how is that any different from the panel or bumper that was put in the factory?

Getting Amped Again | 15/11/2012

I once went to pick up a new BMW that had some after-factory paint work done on a door panel. You had to look at it in the right lighting but it didn't match the rest of the car. I was offered a $1000 discount but I didn't care about saving a few bucks. What I paid for was a brand new vehicle with 100% factory paint, and that's what I wanted.

The regional manager had to get involved but they got me another brand new car. You deserve the same.

ReeceWeb | 15/11/2012

I've had two new cars that spent time in a body shop before delivery.

The first was a Toyota Camry, which started to develop paint problems after about ten years. The paint shop guy used a magnetic gauge to determine that the car had been repainted (paint was thicker than it should have been). Since I purchased it new and it had never been in an accident, he said it was probably a repaint at the factory, which is pretty common if they discover flaws in the paint job.

The second one was a Mitsubishi Eclipse. After I got it home, I discovered broken glass under the back seat, and asked the dealership about it. They admitted that the rear window had been broken out by a sign blown over on the lot. They cleaned up the glass and I never had any trouble with the window leaking, etc.

I think this kind of thing is actually pretty common, but other car companies don't disclose it. I'd give Tesla marks for coming clean, though I hope it doesn't bite them by causing negative reactions. It would be a shame if they had to be opaque about such things because their competitors have already set that expectation.

Sudre_ | 15/11/2012

I'll take your car! You can wait for a new one. :-)

gagliardilou | 15/11/2012

Well, you will not believe this but here is what happened. I received the call about the scratches on the front bumper. I asked my delivery specialist to send photos of the scratches. After 30 minutes of not receiving a photo, I emailed her asking her if she was sending a photo. She emailed back that the car had already been shipped to the body shop. I figured there was no way they would get it out of the service center that fast and it raised suspicions. I tried calling her but got voice mail. When I got home, I called the service center directly and asked if my car was still there. They said it was. So I was lied to by my DS. I asked the gentleman on the phone to send me pictures and he did send two. He said it was small scratch but that the bumper would have to come off to paint it correctly. I said, do not move the car to the body shop. I will be there in the morning because I want to see the car. 10 minutes later I get a call from the territory manager saying that in addition to the scratch on the front, someone backed into the car in the parking lot and the rear quarter panel and the rear bumper were dented!!!!!! It was like a nightmare! Bottom line, whatever happened to the car happened - BUT the service center, my delivery specialist and who knows maybe the territory manager all lied to me! They were going to fix my car that had been in an accident - without disclosing the accident - and then sell me the car as new! I believe that is a felony!

For over three years I have been telling everyone about Tesla and in 1 hour, the Chicago service center threw it all away. I am speechless and totally disheartened.

Things happen, all they had to do was be honest but instead lied and were going to make me pay for their mishap. I do not know how customer service gets any worst than that. I know (or hope) that Tesla does not operate this way. I asked for an executive member to call me - George Blankenship or higher to make sure they know what really happened in their service center. I wait to see if I get a call and needless to say, I am not accepting that car.

Electric Machete | 15/11/2012

Wow. Bummer.

jbunn | 15/11/2012

Ouch. Bumper could have been replaced with a factory new, and its a sperate painting process anyway. Quarter panel, no. Its part of the body in white and is painted at the same time. Tesla used an electostatic paint and bake process. A body shop can match the color, but not the paint process. No way to restore the car to actual factory state. Bumpers, yes. Quarter panel no. $90,000 totaled new car imho.

4luismoreno | 15/11/2012

Where there is smoke, there's fire. Kudos for stickin' with your gut!

Brian H | 15/11/2012

Heads should roll ... "Pour encourager les autres."

gagliardilou | 15/11/2012

I was called and the whole situation is going to be investigated. Employees will be interviewed. I just do not see the employees admitting they lied. I tried to get across the reality. We will see what happens.

Velo1 | 15/11/2012

This is all disheartening, but stick to your guns. I can't imagine this is representative of Tesla. I would bet a few employees screwed up and are panicking, trying to cover their rear ends. They should be weeded out by Tesla so no one has to endure this frustration. Good luck.

CPM | 15/11/2012

The territory manager has been great with information and service. I am sure the others screwed up and he will make it right.

CraigT | 15/11/2012


Probably a darn good thing that you have never visited a dealer's lot when a new shipment of cars arrives off of the trailer. The mobile paint and body van that is scurring around the lot isn't there to talk about the football game! I have seen instances where every single car arriving has needed touch ups or repairs.

If you are not a dealer with a lot then you send the car to the auto body shop. Had Tesla lied to you and said the car was delayed a day (like 99% of dealerships would have done), then you would be happy as a clam the next day when your car was delivered and you would have been none the wiser. Instead you are mad at Tesla for telling you the truth and trying to accomodate you.

Docrob | 15/11/2012

A few swirls needing a buff is one thing, sounds like this vehicle has been the victim of a fender bender in the yard and a few employees have panicked. I don't know that heads need to roll but a few serious conversations are in order. Mistakes happen and people do stupid things, the bigger picture is not that shit happens but how it is handled and resolved.

SSL161 | 15/11/2012

Brian H

J'imagine que tu voulais dire...

Heads should roll ... "Pour decourager les autres."

--- Cherif

Timo | 15/11/2012

Instead you are mad at Tesla for telling you the truth and trying to accomodate you

It doesn't sound like that:

She emailed back that the car had already been shipped to the body shop
I called the service center directly and asked if my car was still there. They said it was

If that is not a lie, then I don't know what is. Someone is lying.

I think the good thing in this is this one:
I was called and the whole situation is going to be investigated.

This means Tesla is serious about good quality service and is reacting fast to prevent future incidents like this.

CraigT | 15/11/2012


My point is that this happens with new cars at every dealership in the country. Letting the guy know two days in advance of delivery that there would be a delay, sending him photos at his request, and then having a Territory Manager follow up is pretty damn good service in my books.

Now if a customer decides that they don't want a car because it had a dent or scratch repaired it is perfectly understandable and I am sure that Tesla would accomodate that.

dborn | 15/11/2012

They should have told you straight out what the problem was. I agree with JBunn. I don't know about totalled, but this car should be repaired and become a demonstrator. (Unless you are prepared to accept a VERY substantial discount!!)
It is common for dings to be present on new cars and repaired before you even know about it, especially in Australia where most of our cars are imported.
However, I had one experience which put me off General Motors for life. Bought a brand new locally made, high end car, and i did not get the car home from taking delivery before i found that the automatic gear box was stuck in 2nd. Went straight to the service centre and had exactly 14km on the dial - maybe 9 miles? Told them i wanted a new car. No go. They replaced the auto gear box (Borg Warner) overnight, not bad for a big job, but the episode left a very bad taste in the mouth.

jbunn | 15/11/2012

Tesla is unique in that there are no dealers. If I'm Bobs House of Hondas, I'm a private owner. I purchase the cars from Honda and I can sell the car for what I want, treat it how I like, and fix it as required. With Tesla, you are purchasing from the factory. Literaly right off the production line, and I think there is an expectation it would be in the same shape as if you'd taken it right out the back door at the factory.

Brian H | 15/11/2012

CherifB | November 15, 2012 new
Brian H
J'imagine que tu voulais dire...
Heads should roll ... "Pour decourager les autres."
--- Cherif

Nope. Google the phrase. It's a famous quote.

Robert22 | 15/11/2012

Look at it this way, you could have been the proud owner of the first model S beater ;)

Captain_Zap | 15/11/2012

They are keeping a "record book" of "firsts" at TMC.

gagliardilou | 16/11/2012

@craig t

You could not be any more incorrect.

The car did not come with a few scratches. The car was involved in an accident. Now I am saying put aside the fact that something happened to the car - accidents happen. 1)The issue is I was lied to by one to several employees. 2) they were going to send the car to a body shop and fix the scratch AND the accident damage and sell me the car as new AND never disclose the accident to me.

This in my eyes is blatantly wrong AND the worst case of customer service I have ever experienced. Lying and deceitfulness do not coincide with great customer service. I do not believe the actions that took place is Tesla's way of doing business. That is why I am getting this situation in front of executive management.

I have uncovered something really wrong(think watergate) and I feel it is Tesla's job to figure out who in the chain of command made the decision to handle the situation this way. There is just no correct explanation for lying. Something happened - fine. Just be truthful about it and we move on - not fix it behind the customers back and never tell them??!!!?!!?!

Also, lets not forget this isn't some $100.00 item, it is a $118,000.00 item!

vouteb | 16/11/2012

glad in a way that you persisted and found out.

Really sucks and puts a 'dent' (excusez le mot) into their 'perfect car' ambitions...

frednorris100 | 16/11/2012

Wah, Wah, Wah. Until you take ownership of the car it is still "new". Bodywork, replace parts are all part of the deal when a car comes into a lot. They will replace the parts and paint as needed. Not any different than if it had happened at the factory. They would have sent it back for repair. Quit your whining.

walla2 | 16/11/2012

They didn't exactly cover it up. In your first post they called you and said otherwise needed to go to the body shop. I agree that the next 4 things that happened sound like a whole lot of fumbling. I hope they make it right and either warrant the damage for life, offer compensation, or allow you yo accept a new car or some combination of these options.

s_curve | 16/11/2012


You were right to escalate the issue. Regardless of the poor decisions that may have been made on the part of line managers, the executives at Tesla understand the future of the company is riding on the success of this product and the satisfaction of its first customers. The way your story should end is that they offer to build you another car, at their cost. Period.

Let us know how it actually ends.

CraigT | 16/11/2012

There is an old saying, always assume incompetence before malice.

The suggestion that there is some "watergate" type conspiracy to sell off damaged cars as new at Tesla is inane. I hope that Tesla gets you a car you are happy with and the matter is resolved to your satisfaction.

Michael S | 16/11/2012


I had to wait 45 extra minutes the day i picked up my car because they were swapping out the driver's side door handle. Guess where they got the extra: another car, being delivered in a couple of days. So they gave me someone else's door handle while they were waiting for replacement door handles to come from the factory. Should they have told car #2 "hey, this isn't the original door handle installed from the factory, do you want a whole new car?" i don't think so. #2 got their car, i got mine and both have working door handles.

That said, the cover up on this does stink. i would imagine this all comes down to the shop manager, who would appear to be a weak link in the Tesla chain.

GLO | 16/11/2012

Fortunately, this is coming out in the open with the early adopters, like us, who are makeing sure that TM hears about theses customer service issues. Like many of you, I've had new car "issues" but do agree with the majority, that this needed to come out so that TM can prevent these types of occurrances once they go into full production mode. I don't feel this is indicative of TM's customer service culture but it is good for you to hold them accountable and demand an explanation and resolution.

Vawlkus | 16/11/2012

While I agree it's good you looked very hard at this incident, I don't think you were lied too. I'm more inclined to believe your DS was given some bad information about what had been done & what needed to be done to your car. Maybe whoever dinged it was trying to save face, and underplayed things, I dunno. IMHO your DS should have asked for pics so they'd be able to share them with you and be better informed about what would have needed fixing, but I'm OCD :P

I do know this: they know there's a problem, and they're hustling to fix it. Tesla is made up of people, and people will screw up on occasion. So far they aren't doing horrible at it, and provided they don't make the same mistake again, it should be ok.

Mark Z | 16/11/2012

While on the subject of scratches and damage, avoid parking your new Model S improperly. The rear hatch swings out and requires adequate clearance. Do not assume it will clear the closed garage door, especially if a raised panel door has a steel strut in the center. Raise the hatch manually to check the distance when determining the correct garage parking position.

Getting Amped Again | 16/11/2012

From @frednorris100 | November 16, 2012

Wah, Wah, Wah. Until you take ownership of the car it is still "new". Bodywork, replace parts are all part of the deal when a car comes into a lot. They will replace the parts and paint as needed. Not any different than if it had happened at the factory. They would have sent it back for repair. Quit your whining.

I couldn't disagree more.

For most repairs both metal and plastic body panels are REPAIRED not REPLACED these days. Sometimes heat is applied to plastic parts and sometimes metal parts are drilled to pull them out. In both cases a hardening resin is applied, cured and sanded. The base color is sprayed locally and blended in with the rest of the panel and the clear is usually applied to the entire panel.

My point is that neither a repaired plastic or metal panel is the anywhere the same as FROM THE FACTORY. This is not like replacing a door handle. Sure a good body shop can make it look pretty good, but the rust prevention paint layers and treatments have been forever compromised. And that's assuming the resulting repair is expertly done, which is probably a 50-50 crap shoot.

Yeah this happens all the time, and you know what, THEY DON'T TELL YOU. I have first-hand experience with this, and I demanded a new car and they gave it to me.

This poor guy paid over $100K for his Model S. He deserves a NEW car, whether he was lied to or not. You guys that are giving him crap - let me come over and take a hammer to a door on your new Model S. I'll get it repaired at my expense - it will be as good as new, I promise.

s_curve | 16/11/2012

I would, at all, equate swapping a door handle with someone rear-ending the car in the factory parking lot. For the former, no harm no foul. For the latter, build me a new car.

space09 | 16/11/2012

@Vawlkus "IMHO your DS should have asked for pics so they'd be able to share them with you and be better informed about what would have needed fixing, but I'm OCD :P"

No, I think this is exactly right. In a system where anyone on the production line can press a button to stop it to correct a problem, a DS should be able to see a problem with a car and reject it before the customer ever sees it. Also, mistakes happen. People should be careful with the cars, of course, but one mistake damaging a car should not be something that instantly gets someone fired. If that is your corporate culture, then it leads to exactly this type of situation (e.g. someone feeling that they will surely be fired, so they will attempt to cover it up instead).

@lgagliardi Bummer this happened to you, but hopefully Tesla will resolve the situation to your satisfaction. I'm wondering how this would be different if you were in Texas. Technically you would own the car from the time the paperwork clears and the car is loaded on the third-party shipper. I'm guessing the insurance on the third-party shipper would have to cover the damage and hopefully Tesla would make some accommodation as well given they picked the shipper. Good luck!

mrspaghetti | 16/11/2012

@Docrob +1


I always think of Watergate as an example of both incompetence and malice.

That being said, there may be the possibility that there were no lies involved in this situation. Whoever told you the car had already been shipped may have simply been too lazy to go look with his/her own eyeballs.


People should be careful with the cars, of course, but one mistake damaging a car should not be something that instantly gets someone fired. If that is your corporate culture, then it leads to exactly this type of situation (e.g. someone feeling that they will surely be fired, so they will attempt to cover it up instead)

Agreed. But firing for covering up mistakes is entirely different than firing for making mistakes. The former policy is a good one, the latter bad in my experience.

SSL161 | 16/11/2012

Personally, I feel for lgagliardi.

If this had happened to me, I’m not sure what I would have done in his/her place. However, having the luxury of distance I would say this.

If this is standard procedure to fix a problem like this in this way for “normal dealerships” that’s fine… for a normal car.

But in this case, I’d say that it doesn’t apply. This is a Tesla. Each car is custom built. This isn’t a car that just comes off the line in bezilion copies of the same configuration on a daily basis. Each car is basically unique; unique to the taste of the original buyer.

If the car is delivered damaged in any way, then it is devalued. This is unavoidable. It can’t just be replaced by the next one that comes off the delivery truck.

If the fix is minor, that’s one thing. But if it requires more extensive work (part replacements, paint matching, etc…)
I fear that Igagliardi’s position is very well taken. I’d request a new car or a major discount. The first requires a major delay in gratification, the other is compensation.

The ball in her/his court now; fFor me, I'd pick the delayed gratification only because it would hang over me and dampen my enthusiasm.

--- Cherif

SSL161 | 16/11/2012

Brian H


Heads should roll ... "Pour decourager les autres."

--- Cherif

Nope. Google the phrase. It's a famous quote.


Well, I guess that it all depends on your point of view and context.

I was looking at the statement from the position that he/she should pursue his/her interest so as to DIScourage wrong doers from getting away with bad service.

I'd failed to see the other way of looking at it (which supports the original version); so as to encourage those wronged to stand up for themselves.

Neither postion is mutually exlusive and we are saying the same thing... basically.

My apologies for being nitpicky.

--- Cherif

petero | 16/11/2012

Sorry to say this but auto factories and dealerships suffer mishaps and fix them. If it happened at the factory they don't tell the dealer. If it happened at the dealership, they don't tell the customer.

They should have told you everything or nothing at all. I think you are over reacting on the bumper and 100% correct on the rear fender. Personally, I am in the "tell me the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth" camp.

CraigT | 16/11/2012

@Getting Amped

Tesla bodies are aluminum not steel. Aluminum doesn't "rust"!
The repair of a small scratch isn't going to impact the value of a vehicle. The repair of a major dent might but it doesn't sound like even the author knows at this point whether the dent is the size of a pin-head or a football. If there is a major dent in an aluminum panel then usually it gets replaced as you can't simply drill and bang it out.

Getting Amped Again | 16/11/2012

@CraigT - you make a good point. If they replace it how do they weld it back on? I thought welding aluminum was somewhat difficult but I really don't know.

Anyway, the fact that dealer repairs are made to "new" cars all the time, and the buyer is NEVER told, tells me the car has been devalued all the same, even if it's just in the buyer's mind (which matters IMHO).

Superliner | 16/11/2012

Had a friend of mine purchase a "brand new" $64k Ford F250 Powerstroke Diesel, after about a year there were some warranty issues with the emissions system. when the servicing dealer pulled up the warranty history it was discovered that the truck had had a complete engine replacement @ approx 140 miles (was a dealer trade and was driven from dealer that took delivery from ford to selling dealer location) Truck was sold as new as it had never been titled prior to him buying it @ approx. 160 miles on the clock.

This DOES happen and my friend was never told of this at the time of purchase however no laws were broken and he still owns / drives the truck. Is it right? probably not, but it does happen. Had you not been told of the mishap you would doubtless have never known and be happily motoring as we speak.

Thumper | 16/11/2012

Looks like the DS will never be Secretary of State!

gagliardilou | 16/11/2012

The dent is about the sixe of a baseball. I feel getting amped soon hit it right on the head. For all those of you who think it is no big deal, I am going to run my old Honda into your new model s, then I will fix if for you AND I want you to be just as happy with your car as if it did not happen.

Bottom line is they should have just been truthful. All the arguments about cars coming from the factory have scatches etc.. I understand that BUT this car was hit by another car!!!!!!!

I am still waiting to hear but I tell you all, its not a matter of the DS not getting out of her chair and not looking - they definitely tried to cover up the accident took place - 100% wrong!

Getting Amped Again | 16/11/2012

@lgagliardi - I agree that you should get a new car, but IMHO if you go on a witch hunt you might win the battle and lose the war. I say put your energy towards getting a replacement Model S. Sorry this happened to you!

Sudre_ | 16/11/2012

lgagliardi is 100% in the right. I don't care what the 'OTHER' guys do. Tesla, Elon, is pushing this whole "we are different" thing. I am very surprised and dismayed to hear this report. At first it didn't seem to bad but it does sound like lgagliardi would have been duped if he/she had not stayed on it. That's not right.

Think about it. Elon was personally inspecting vehicles because he was such a perfectionist. Picture Elon inspecting this car at the factory and having it sent back because he found a 3mil error somewhere. Then while he happened to be in Chicago for some business meeting he discovers the car in this condition. I think I would have heard him yelling at everyone involved all the way down here in St. Louis.

ArieK | 16/11/2012

When lgagliardi gets his new (replacement) Model S I would advice the next reservation holder in line who has the same configuration as him to pay VERY close attention to the state of his/her car upon delivery !
Economically the original car isn't anywhere near totalled so there is no good reason for Tesla to scrap the car instead of selling it to the next in line.

jbunn | 16/11/2012

Well, idealy it becomes a test drive or display model.