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Dissatisfaction with Tesla Communications with Model X Reservation Holders

Dissatisfaction with Tesla Communications with Model X Reservation Holders

Dear Elon,

I placed my reservation (Model X Reservation# 2,813) over 2 years ago. I am very excited about the Model X and the new advances that may have warranted the delay until Q3 2015. The topic that concerns me, however, is that communications from Tesla to the Model X reservation holders has been infrequent, inconsistent, and at best, spotty.

My initial impression with Tesla, after I placed my deposit, was that Tesla is a company that wants customers involved and seeks to keep them informed on developments in technology, EV legislation, and upcoming events. Unfortunately, a growing number of current and future owners are joining me in expressing their dissatisfaction with the level and inconsistency of communications that have been maintained between Tesla and Model X reservation holders.

Highly publicized events, such as the "D and something else" reveal, have left us speculating as to why some reservation holders get invites and/or notifications and others do not. We all believe in you, the Tesla Team, and most of all, our involvement in moving the planet toward sustainable transportation.

Unfortunately, of late, many of us have had to find out about events, legislation and/or announcements through articles published by industry analysts rather than from Tesla directly. More often than not, these analysts are not completely informed and their reports fall short or are inaccurate.

Perhaps it is an unrealistic expectation, but in my opinion, people that have placed their faith (and cash) in Tesla should be the first to know when new information is made available. Please take my comments as constructive criticism and if there is anything I can do to assist Tesla in keeping reservation holders better informed, just let me know. I am willing to volunteer as much time and effort as required.

Sincerely,

Craig Yarbrough

Puffer | November 7, 2014

Your demands won't make the car appear any faster, work any better, or change anything about it.. At all.

You're waiting in line to be a first adopter. Change your order to an S if you don't have the stomach for it, or get a refund and head to Toyota. I'm sure they'd love to placate your ego and take your money for a recall-addled death trap -- I'm unbelievably happy that Tesla isn't giving in to people like you, and will patiently await my car when it's ready.

vandacca | November 7, 2014

@Puffer: @craig makes a valid point and whether or not you agree with him, there is no need to belittle his opinion.

His first and foremost request is for better communication, which most people on this forum will agree that Tesla has room for improvement in this area. He is not asking Tesla to change their direction or implementation (there are plenty of those requests in other threads like on Falcon Wing Doors and optional 3rd row seats), but only for more transparency, especially to those who have given Tesla an interest free loan. Tesla could certainly do that without affecting their bearings. They used to do that in the form of town-hall meetings, which they don't appear to do anymore.

There are many excited reservations holders in this forum that are hanging on every scrape of information on the Model-X. Because there is so little information, reservation holders are sneaking pictures of the secret Tesla parking lot in Fremont, speculating on Elon's tweets regarding "...and something else" and debating what's happening inside Tesla headquarters in this forum. This is all because of lack of information on a hotly, anticipated vehicle. It's only human nature.

Of course, if this lack of communication has displeased reservations holders, their best response is to request their deposits back or they can switch to another vehicle from Tesla or some other company. However, I suspect that most in this forum will wait it out for this truly unique vehicle.

TonyInNH | November 7, 2014

Completely agree, no one is forcing Tesla to rush the X out the door, but the least they could do is provide timely updates to their reservation holders.

TYC911 | November 7, 2014

@craig - well written. I feel the same way.

sbeggs | November 8, 2014

Craig,
Very balanced letter. Reservation holders who have placed their money and faith in the fledgling company and product should be considered a sacred (brain) trust.

Keeping in touch, surveying the group as to features and apologizing in an e-mail or letter as delays have happened, giving the reason for the delays, would go a long way toward making the Model X holders feel like not jumping ship.

Red Sage ca us | November 8, 2014

Craig: +1 UP!. Definitely a good post.

cathygardner10 | November 8, 2014

With reservation 11,013, I appreciate and agree with Craig's comments. I have been looking forward to X delivery by next summer to replace a well-used vehicle, and only learned of the delay because my Model S driving husband follows Tesla news and forums. As emailed update directly from Tesla would still be much appreciated.

MX Pete@QC.Canada | November 8, 2014

@Craig Well put Sir.
Better communications with reservation holder would definitely compensate for the wait and keep us with current & actual news instead of "relying" on all the speculations and disinformation that litters the different media's (Forums, internet articles & blogs)

Remnant | November 8, 2014

@ sbeggs (November 8, 2014)

<< Keeping in touch, surveying the group as to features and apologizing in an e-mail or letter as delays have happened, giving the reason for the delays, would go a long way toward making the Model X holders feel like not jumping ship. >>

Kudos, sbeggs! Neat idea. I'd call it, Monthly Delay Bulletin to Our MX Reservation Holders.

We are more than some Tesla's reservation holders or a list of lay-away items, we are her creditors. We are family! Tesla should honor the fact that a good part of the life blood running through her veins is our reservation deposits!

EternalChampion | November 8, 2014

I'm not mad at Tesla at all. I want them to continue bringing the most innovative products in the world to market.

However, as a stockholder and reservation holder for both Model X and Model S P85D, their communication and premium consumer involvement could be improved upon. I can completely sympathize with the original poster.

e-randy | November 8, 2014

@Craig: Thank You!

@Tesla:
Thanks for doing the checkout lane shuffle to us. Rather than advance existing reservation holders, you opened the new checkout line and let folks in back move to the front. Good for short-term financial gain but another ding in the Tesla bodywork. I'm disappointed.

e-randy | November 8, 2014

@myself. Can someone clarify- did Tesla sell Signature models to fill the slots which opened?

I guess it doesn't really matter in the end, at 2,000 units per week the delay is insignificant. Just off to a bad start this a.m. and vented before thinking it all through.
Carry on. :)

craig | November 8, 2014

@e-randy: I completely agree with your ding comment. I had talked to Tesla back in June or July and they said they had a standby list for the Signature models and I asked to be placed on that list. They confirmed that I was on the list but rather than contact the names on that list for the open Signature Reservations, they opened it up to the general public.

Tesla in general is great at communications so the issues we are discussing are most likely internal procedural disconnects in which different divisions inside Tesla are not communicating optimally (or at all). I am the Chief Knowledge Officer for a large organization and I see these types of issues occasionally. They are easy to fix once they are identified. It is my hope that our comments are taken as constructive criticism and will help lead to better communication/coordination procedures inside Tesla.

babstude | November 8, 2014

Craig, good post, frequent updates would definitely be more than welcome!

Iowa92x | November 8, 2014

X reservation holders have given Tesla a $5,000 deposit. So definitely agree for $5,000, customers deserve timely communication from Tesla. I personally wouldn't give Tesla a free multi-thousand dollar loan and zero communication. Invest that money instead, then get on the list closer to 2016.

sg021.pa.us | November 8, 2014

@craig and e-randy - Didn't the new Signature reservations end up being a mistake? I thought everyone just ended up with a bunch of hassle and a refund.

I do agree it'd be nice to have a little more info. It's only been a couple months since I put a deposit in, so I haven't been worn down by an endless wait. It would be nice to get update emails pertaining to the X whenever there is public comment from Tesla, just to make sure we know where everything stands as a courtesy.

ian t.wa.us | November 8, 2014

sg021 - You are correct. The recent signature upgrade debacle was indeed the result of a website glitch or mistake in turning it back on. Those that sent them an extra $35k had it refunded.

craig - Great post indeed. It would be much appreciated if Tesla would get their act together regarding the communication issues.

Cheers!

NumberOne | November 8, 2014

I do not think this is a bad post, and while I would like more information, I do not really see the point. Perhaps an e-mail to Model X reservation holders the day before something is announced would be good. In his most recent comments, Elon did say that the 'Beta' is now being built. No word on when it is expected to be completed, but I would imagine that there will be many more than one. The good part is that I fully expect the first one to be ready in the next month or so.

What can Tesla say anyway? Adam Jonas speculated about a delay in October, so I was expecting it anyway.

What details about the car do wee really need? What size wheels, what brand tires? At this point it is not relevant, and it will not make a difference on my decision to get the car or not.

I would be very surprised if there is not significantly more information available in the next 6 months. I have been waiting more than 2 years for my car already, and by the time I get it, it will be close to 3.

vandacca | November 8, 2014

@LeonardD, Things that would be nice to hear from Tesla:
- Reveal date for Model-X beta
- Reveal date for Model-X Design Studio
- Official Release Date of Model-X
- Model-X touring schedule (Tesla stores and Car shows)
- Any updates on final design decisions (e.g. rear mirrors/cameras)

Red Sage ca us | November 8, 2014

Yes. Even though I am the Resident Certified Tesla Motors Apologist Fanboy, I am much more understanding of the plight before Model X reservation holders than I am of Model S order holders (this side of Australia, anyway).

I understand both sides. Tesla Motors wants to preserve some mystery in order to increase excitement upon the final reveal of Model X. Model X reservation holders feel they have waited more than long enough to have very basic questions answered:
What will the towing capacity be?
What is the novel roof rack solution?
Can it be towed 'wheels down' behind an RV?
Will there be bins and cupholders?
Can we get cptain's chairs all around?
Tesla Motors can save the data on pricing, range, battery capacity, performance figures, rear view mirrors versus cameras for the official reveal. There is plenty else they can cover in a monthly newsletter to at least let Model X reservation holders know they haven't been forgotten.

Roamer@AZ USA | November 8, 2014

I own two model S cars and am about to replace one with a P85D. I also have two sig X and one regular X on order.

I have to admit I have been surprised at the lack of communication and information being given to the thousands of X buyers with large order deposits. My Model S experience has been tremendous but so far the Model X experience is severely lacking in attention and status updates.

Brian H | November 9, 2014

2 observations;
-Tesla has learned to be leery and cautious about conditional casual statements; they are received as commitments, and certain self-important persons start throwing the word "liars" around.
-much of what vandacca asks is unknown or being left open for last-minute developments. Consider the 20 h/w changes per week for the finished existing product!

woohoo | November 9, 2014

@craig
Thank you, I feel the exact same way.

craig | November 9, 2014

Thanks for the comments everyone. Please don't take my criticism of communications with us as criticism of Tesla's corporate vision. That could not be further from the truth. In fact, people in my office call me the "Tesla Techvangelist". I am a big believer in what Tesla is doing with sustainable transportation and I would probably wait another two years for my Model X if I absolutely had to.

My concern is that Tesla has, in the Model X Reservation Holder community, a huge pool of committed resources. These resources (all of us) represent a valuable asset to Tesla that can either appreciate through appropriate management or depreciate through neglect.

I am not asking for advanced notice of anything, rather I am simply asking that Tesla let us know directly as soon as the information is made available to analysts. My complaint is that we all found out about the delay till Q3 2015 from the articles and posts that were generated from the release of the Q3 2014 financials and not from any communications directly from Tesla.

As a former banking and software executive, I want any negative news that my impact my clients to come directly from me or my organization. I do not want them reading about it in the press or getting the news from their investment advisor before they hear it from me.

If I were responsible for Tesla communications with Model X Reservation Holders, you could count on getting the facts and any relevant news, good or bad, from me first. It's simply the best business practice for maintaining the relationship (and investment) you have established with your customers.

Roamer@AZ USA | November 9, 2014

I also sympathize with the dilemma Tesla faces as a public company and market disrupter. Every action seems to get studied and reported.

I am also a very vocal fan of the company and the Model S. I have given over 100 test drives and the associated explanations that go with them.

All that said I am still a little surprised at how little time attention or information Tesla has invested in the Model X reservation holders.

Under promise and over deliver is great plan and would help most businesses if they used it. The Model X is at the point of promise nothing and count on customer loyalty.

I am 100% in favor of not shipping an X until they have it right. But at the same time let your customers with deposits know when you think you will have it right.

babstude | November 9, 2014

I think it would be nice to get a newsletter of some kind, does not have to be model x specific but tesla overall as well. I.e. A new service centre has opened in x or we have broken ground in y country now.

Fortunately teslarati and greencarreports and others post a lot of stuff but still

craig | November 9, 2014

babstude - Completely agree! Anything directly from Tesla on a regular basis would be better than the speculative and, at times, inaccurate reports the industry analysts are providing.

Yesterday, I read an article stating that the $35,000 Model X would be Tesla's attempt to roll out greater numbers of EVs and would debut in 2015. Its frustrating when the trusted source of information remains silent.

OG | November 9, 2014

I understand that it's a very fine line that Tesla has to walk with their information. However, I, along with it appears most others, feel that we do deserve more and clearer direct information. I've had a signature MX reserved since Feb 2012. Try explaining that to the people around you. $40,000 down payment, waiting now 3 1/2 years for a car I know almost nothing about. People look at me like I've lost my mind. I was so desperate for information, I went to the unveiling of the "D" in LA. I expected the D was not the X but I thought there was no way that they could have an event like that without giving out some information about the MX. At a minimum, they would at least have the alpha or maybe even the beta on display. After all, at that point in time, I was only 2-3, (maybe 4 max), months away from getting mine. Not one single bit of information was available! Everyone was well trained. The answer I received from every single Tesla employee, (and I asked them all), was that everything was on track for the MX.

Don't get me wrong, I had a great time at the event. I would probably still go knowing what I know now but I mention it to demonstrate how desperate I feel for information. This is not a new iPhone I'm waiting for. It has significant impact. I've tied up a big chunk of money for a long time. My BMW X5 is on its last legs. I hope that it will survive without major repairs until the MX is finally ready. Had I known it would be this long, I definitely would have done another vehicle in the interim, probably a MS. Now it looks like the delay is going to put me beyond the sales tax exemption on EV vehicles in my state. That will cost me another $10k.

I can't say that I really have the answer though. There are a lot of things to consider with giving out more information. I wish that the reservation holders could all sign a non-disclosure agreement and be privy to all the details but we all know that would never work. Hopefully the secrecy will become less necessary soon. I do hope that Elon or Tesla management read these posts and recognize how difficult it is for their loyal customers to remain loyal when they are kept in the dark. In my mind, I became a customer when I put down my deposit, not when I get the vehicle. I think I should be treated differently than the general public.

james | November 9, 2014

+1, Craig - thanks for putting it so well.

carlk | November 9, 2014

Did you receive email from Tesla to inform you about new annoucements? BTW the reservation is refundable no question asked. I strongly suggest you to consider cancel your reservation if you have problem with the company especially if your reservation number is lower than mine ~12,000.

Sarcasm aside when it's ready you will know it's ready. Nothing you do will change one iota of the schedule.

Steve18 | November 9, 2014

+1 Craig. well said. This is a luxury car company, selling a premium car, to people who deserve a bit of personal touch around the status of their often long outstanding orders. I have literally experienced no contact around the sig x ordered a year ago. I'm a big boy. You can tell me you're having issues you want to work out. A simple update or some form of direct contact every few months until it's time to pick options and schedule delivery is not an reasonable expectation for the buyers of this luxury If we were 100,000 Prius buyers waiting for news, that'd be a different story IMO.

vandacca | November 9, 2014

@carlk, I don't recall anyone in this thread asking to change the schedule. The primary request is to be notified of the schedule or at the very least, notified of schedule changes outside of quarterly updates.

Roamer@AZ USA | November 9, 2014

+1 vandacca. I am wondering if management of the Model X program is overwhelmed. Seems strange to have such little information provided to customers.

@carlk I have a 9000 VIN Model S and a 24000 VIN P85+ and now a P85D on order. I also have 2 Sig X and one regular X on deposit. Despite my obvious satisfaction with the product and order patience on earlier deliveries I find the lack of communication with Model X customers to be puzzling. Your comments to cancel orders and buy something else misses the point of all the posts. People providing long term interest free loans to Tesla deserve better treatment.

Doesn't cost much to send out monthly info emails even if the info is just fluff and mush to keep the stock market world from vibrating.

Brian H | November 9, 2014

An underlying and long-established assumption of many of the comments about lack of "communication" is that Tesla is trying to maximized demand with its strategic decisions and comm priorities. It's unique in the car business to be unconcerned about such things. By all the evidence to hand, the "compelling product" is succeeding without catering either to the urge to promote at every opportunity or to the hunger of potential and committed buyers for as much detail as possible.

That's a lot of expense and staff attention foregone and saved, and many complications avoided. Expect it to continue, and plan around the possibilities that hints may not turn out to be commitments and that development news may come in bursts and catch you unawares.

Brian H | November 9, 2014

edit: trying to maximize demand ...

richard.levy | November 9, 2014

I agree ! At least let us know what is going on. I have not had even one e-mail since my Model-X order about 15 months ago !! Everything I know is from this site and rumors. An occasional e-mail is not too much to ask.

PS - I've had an S for almost 2 years and driven cross country and back twice. this car is awesome and the future.. !!

Tâm | November 10, 2014

@Craig

Mass production of an incredible car like Model X is hard.

If you have followed Tesla since the day of Roadster, Model S, and now Model X, then you must learn to have patience.

There's no need for an e-mail right now because as the website says:

"More details will be announced as production nears."

The production is not even near! You haven't even seen a Beta running around out in the wild.

Näky | November 10, 2014

As a consumer and reservation holder, I would like to hear a lot more about model X. Then again TM is production constrained and by making another model available, new much larger hordes of eagerly waiting customers will arrive and be unhappy waiting for months and years for their cars. Now unhappy horde is smaller and less agitated and by not giving out much information that horde doesn't grow so fast. It still likely takes year or more to clear pre production backlog.

Brian H | November 10, 2014

Ya, those hordes get really bothersome, especially if you invited them into your house in the first place. They all want the best snacks, even if your fridge is currently empty. ;p

craig | November 10, 2014

@carlk. Thanks for the feedback. :-) I never voiced any dissatisfaction with Tesla, quite the contrary. I simply expressed a concern with the lack of communications to Model X Reservation Holders. Any question in my mind about whether I would keep my reservation #2,813 immediately vanished when I read your post. I'll let you know what the Model X is like when I get mine.

Red Sage ca us | November 10, 2014

Craig & OG: Man, I really feel for you guys. Honestly. Unfortunately, Tesla Motors has their hands tied due to being a public company.

The level of transparency you deserve as Customers is denied you, by rule of law, regulatory guidance, legal counsel, and common sense. There's no winning the argument in this case. There are Naysayers at the gate, hardly restrained in their vehement desire to see Tesla Motors fail, once and for all. Because of that fact, Tesla must pay extra special concern to following strict procedure regarding anything and everything that even remotely leans in the general direction of what might be termed a 'forward looking statement', and thus must reign in their own exuberance to the maximum possible level.

It sucks, but this the world we must live in.

vandacca | November 10, 2014

Red Sage, Tesla (aka Elon) has been more talkative in the past, while being a publicly traded company. I suspect that Elon has recently been frustrated with the media making inaccurate statements, at least thats the sense I got from listening to the last conference call. IMO it's that frustration that is likely the reason why he has decided to stop communicating.

There is no reason why immediately after releasing their quarter 3 results, they couldn't have sent out a nice Email to all their reservation holders with the new schedule. Instead reservation holders heard it first from outside analysts, who are partly the cause of Elon's frustration (IMO). Then you have some reservation holders (I'm not pointing at you @Red Sage) that don't believe the analysts because they are not reliable and because they didn't hear it directly from Tesla.

It's an awkward situation.

Brian H | November 10, 2014

Anything in a letter to res holders will be public knowledge within a half hour. Maybe 5 minutes. Like it or not.

Red Sage ca us | November 10, 2014

Great point! It probably should have gone this way:
Earnings report
Shareholders letter
E-mail to Model X reservation holders
That one extra step would have said volumes to reassure ad satiate those Customers needs for communication. I was just pointing out that Tesla Motors is not allowed to do it the other way around. Even though the Shareholders letter was publicly available, the extra attention to Customers should have been considered and acknowledged as a priority.

mdemetri | November 10, 2014

Craig +100

Tesla is terrible at communication, but I think this is the worst case yet. They really should keep their Model X reservations holders more up to date. A small tidbit here and there would go a long way in keeping us reservation holders in the loop. How hard is it to tell us that the Model X delivery is delayed by email? This is the minimum they should do. If I was not a TSLA investor or avid forum reader, I would still think that I should be getting my Model X 3 months sooner than I will. This has real impact on reservation holders and IMHO Tesla should be obligated to directly update reservation holders on the delay.

SBCB | November 10, 2014

Craig,

This is a massive project. The Odyssey is an awesome people mover - and I expect the same from my X - PLUS... 4WD, gaul wing doors for 3rd row access, super lux AND being the safest car on the road. That's a tall order. If they knock it out of the park (again) - the demand will be massive!

Speaking of the guys from H, i am now driving a FIT EV. The car is awesome. Small yet powerful. Just don't feel that the safety is close to S or X. Hoping Tesla will pick up where H is giving up.

ernie | November 10, 2014

As an impatient / patient [at times] reservation holder I too want information. However, the Boeing Company’s 787 Dreamliner comes to mind. The Boeing engineers had to do research as to how to get rid of the egg off their faces time after time. It was a PR debacle that seemed to have no end. Then after the sweet bird flew over my office [yes several miles from the runway] the battery issues ignited in more ways than one. I would rather NOT be on the cutting edge of the sword until Tesla has worked out the bugs and gotten it right.

As a manufacturer of electronic and electrical devices…I can attest to the difficulty of meeting fixed or arbitrary time frames. The goals should include every aspect of making a defect free vehicle, not meeting a date that could prove troublesome.

Yes, it would be nice to get more information, but I do not fault the way they are doing it. Our company has promised for two years we would have a certain model out. At this point we are only able to produce a fraction of what we thought we could. We too have egg on our faces, but have discovered that it can be removed and customers appreciate near perfection even if there is a delay.

Brian H | November 11, 2014

ernie;
+1

Sounds like you almost Osborned yourselves, tho'.

Laryrob | November 11, 2014

Also some basic information on the X would be helpful-like dimensions,range, etc. they obviously will miss the expiration date of the WA sales tax exemption which to date hasnt been extended and will cost WA state buyers an additional $7-10000. I'm not sure I would have made my reservation when i did had they been more upfront on the delay. It seems that they have put the new S "D" s ahead of the production of the Xs. In any event, we ordered the X because we love our S but at this point I think i'm going to bail until they get their act together and will buy also after the first Xs are delivered and the kinks worked out and the new features added(I'm sure there will be like the parking assists and now AWD on the S). Also question how long the stock will hold up if they again postpone delivery of the X?

vandacca | November 11, 2014

I think we have finally understood why Tesla's communication is lacking. Elon is spreading himself too thin. He is now also working to launch small satellites into Earth orbit to provide the world with cheap internet access, via his SpaceX company:
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