Whoops! Turns out the “included” 60kWh pack supercharger costs $2K “extra”.
Ouch. Something of a train wreck, this is.
Irate customers? Oh yeah. And for good cause.
George’s explanation? Well, one might try to follow his backstory and understand the temporary blindness to how this would look. Just barely.
So why such loud boos over a 1 or 2K price adjustment? Is that all this is about? Nope.
The elephant in the room is something much bigger, and much deeper.
It is that this company represents something much more to those who follow and support it with their wallets, their words. and their goodwill.
To them, this company represents a break with the past. Technologically, ecologically, and yes, morally.
The world we’ve been living in is doing wrong on so many levels, and this company and its spirit carry the promise of turning some of that around.
These guys are our champions to help stop wrecking the Earth, stop eviscerating our economy, and stop cheating the common man.
But this episode reminds people of what they are so desperately trying to leave behind. It threatens to shatter the emotional equity we’ve invested in our champion. With that mantle comes a responsibility, a fidelity to principle. Ergo the unusually strong reaction.
I do believe this was an honest mistake. Stuff happens. There’s a lot of moving parts, all changing in real time and executives are actually, you know, human. But boy, was this seriously tone-deaf. Jeez, you don’t change the price after the deal is signed! What were ya think'n?
But that’s over, which brings us to now. Now ... it could go down in the history books as a marketing blunder that is truly epic - right up there with turning gold into lead. You so had them with the SC announcement, and then this? Talk about a major buzz-kill.
Or … instead it may become yet another compelling proof that faith in this company is totally merited.
And that, depends on what Elon and George do now.
So guys, here’s a suggestion for how to turn it around:
Acknowledge it. Fix it. Build on it. Like this -
1. Apologize for mishandling it.
2. If you had already signed a contract, it’s free.
3. If you finalize by December, it’s half price.
4. Website changes now to say it’s a $2,000 option.
5. New reservations can choose the option at the new published price.
This will cost something in the short term, but do the math, it’s not so bad. It would have been cheaper to do perfectly from the start, but now it is what it is. And for heaven’s sake, stop listing it as “included” when you now know you’ve got to charge more. Fill that box with an honest 2K number. This reaffirms that your ethics are still what we ascribe to you.
With this construct, people who trusted you early are rewarded with a price advantage. That turns grousing into gratitude. And you’ll be able to say with conviction that no one who committed money to you did so under a misimpression. Collectively, I think these actions are sufficient to turn things around and quell the discontent. And yet it protects the steady-state margins you need to succeed.
You can’t let a single screw-up dictate your margins, trash your price discipline, or define the strategy for positioning your models. You have to run a solid business. But neither can you cede your most precious asset.
How you administer price changes matters a lot. It telegraphs who you are: Either the new champions for our time … or just a retread of brain-dead cynicism.
Your reputation is irreplaceable. You got it with brilliance and earnest hard work, and it’s in the spotlight now because we're at a unique and fortuitous moment in history. Technologically - and ethically, you happen to be exactly what we need, right when we realize we need it. This moment won’t happen again. How much is that worth?
Right now, you own something so precious that few will ever attain it. You’re the heroes whom we all love. You wear the champion’s crown, and it’s yours to lose. But how you handle trouble defines whether you keep it.
A smart friend once said “Don’t trouble trouble, unless trouble troubles you”. Well, a hiccup has unintentionally invited trouble to your door, so it’s your time to stand up and define yourselves. You can shine if you choose.
This is not a money-thing. It’s a trust-thing.
Personally, I believe in you. I think you’re equal to this test.