What happened to early adopter loyalty?

What happened to early adopter loyalty?

I am an old time supporter and believer in both the brand and its iconic leader (at least I was). I bought the roadster back when it first came out and took a huge bet on an unknown company with somewhat experimental technology that required many hours of debugging, not to mention the high product price, which I gladly paid knowing that I was supporting a new technology. When the model S came out, I double my bet and upgrade to one of the earlier units. During my customer experience I have introduced the technology to many of my business colleagues, resulting in at least three referral based sales and a handful of direct buys without referrals.

As I saw the company grow, I have seen its customer service continued to decline including missed timelines on maintenance appointments, replacement of parts, etc. As a business man myself with multiple businesses, I figured this was all part of growing pains and clearly associated with standard scaling issues. So I just worked through it.

Finally in September I decided to get a P100 so I can have enough distance to go from Palm Coast, Florida to Broward County, do a quick charge and hit Miami. I decided to go into the web site and configure a new P100 with the latest navigation hardware. I got an email from someone in California asking me if he could help. I will leave the name out as getting him in trouble is not my intention. I validated the configuration, and I called him to finalize the deal. He pointed out that all new cars don't offer unlimited charging any more. I was surprised to hear that as I currently have that with my old reliable Model S. I don't use supercharging that much, but after doing research I found out that up to five of my referral friends would get it, but not me???? Trying to continue to be a supporter, I asked what are my options for getting a P100 with supercharging included. He mentioned that if I buy a used one then I could get that, so we explored some options from used inventory. Here is the best part - I found the perfect used car with very similar configuration, BUT IT WAS MORE EXPENSIVE THAN A NEW ONE!!!! I started laughing as at first I thought this was a joke. Quickly I realized this was for real and the explanation was "we get better programs for new ones." When I asked the gentleman to reconsider selling me the new one but transferring the unlimited supercharging option to me he said "sorry, we have to make profit now..."

So here is my dilemma. As a long-time supporter of the brand, what it means to the automotive industry and the environment, I want to continue to support Tesla and Elon on his quest to make this a better world and revolutionize and antiquated industry. However, I believe Tesla needs to show some type of loyalty back to those of us who gamgle hundred's of thousands of dollars when they were just starting up. Those of us who have consistently supported the brand, generated sales via referals and by sharing a vision that EVs can be sexy, fast and efficient. I want Tesla to continue to grow, be profitable and maintain its leadership status in the EV and renewable spaces, but not at the cost of stepping all over those early adopters that believed in the company, its leader and the goal for a better car and a better tomorrow.

I took the time to write this, not to bitch or want anything in return, but rather in the hopes that Elon or someone who used to care about its early adopter customers will re-evaluate its customer loyalty programs and show us that they appreciated our support over the years.

reed_lewis | December 4, 2018

1. The super charging you get when using a referral code is for 6 months, not for a lifetime. And you can also get the 6 months for free also using your code.

2. The value of super charging is not very much to you considering you do not use it very much.

3. Super Charging follows the car, not the owner.

I would seriously add up how much you would possibly use the super charger, and figure out how much you will pay over the next 5 years. I doubt it would be over a couple of hundred dollars if what you say is true.

atownever | December 4, 2018

Perhaps what would be more appropriate is free supercharging IF you are using a supercharger more than XX miles from home. The issue now appears to be users who chose to "fill up" all the time at their local superchargers with their free credits, causing long lines, particularly in CA.

sklancha | December 4, 2018

@FredM- I understand the feeling of (?) betrayal- or maybe the desire for recipical loyalty from the company. I really do. That 'let down' was felt by many early supporters, and you might even be able to find a thread that discusses this very topic.
I admit that I went through my own mildly narcissistic rant. How could Tesla show so little respect for all that I have done for them and their emerging brand? At an average of 35K per year over the past 4 years- the thought that there is more incentive to keep my old car with 150k miles on it than to trade up to a brand new Tesla is disheartening.

That being said...

It sounds like it would take you over a decade to break even with how much you actually prepaid for that Supercharger-for-life, and the 'loss' of that privilege is more emotional than anything. You love the car. Your ready to upgrade. Go for it. Don't take it personal. We can't expect Tesla to treat all the early supporters special for eternity, at their own expense.


jordanrichard | December 4, 2018

It has been known for a long time that the for life unlimited supercharging was tied to the car, not the person. So to a degree and probably a palpable degree that increases the value of your existing car, because the new ones don't get it.

blue adept | December 4, 2018


I don't understand your professed disenchantment for a couple of reasons, one of which being (as others have pointed out) that the cause seems to be the result of a misunderstanding of what certain early adopter's allowances were or weren't assigned to (vehicle v. owner).

For another, I don't understand why you don't simply chose to upgrade your battery to one capable of more range/pay to have the vehicle's programming upgraded to allow for extended range functionality to compensate for those infrequent extended trips?

Yet another reason is that I just pulled up the interactive services locator map page and noticed that there are both Destination and SuperChargers (along with Stores, Galleries and Service Centers) all up and down Florida's coastal and inter-coastal shorelines, as well as several scattered throughout its' interior:

So I'm not seeing any shortage of access to charging regardless of wherever you are in Florida.

All of these points of contention tend to directly contradict your disparaging insinuations of Tesla's disenfranchisement of its 'early adopters', especially in light of the fact that all of these are matters which that any self-respecting Tesla owner would be well aware of, especially one who professes to be an "old time supporter and believer" in the company and its mission, so the reality of the matter doesn't support your allegations.

So I am at a loss for any actual reason or justification for all of the negative comments regarding your alleged experience with Tesla Motors as it all seems to be a matter of 'user error'/individual ignorance at the very least, or just more BS being propagated by yet another Tesla naysayer...

I'll leave it to the forum to decide which for themselves.

Yodrak. | December 4, 2018

As a business man with multiple businesses, who could afford to gamble hundreds of thousands of dollars on Tesla (fixed the spelling for you), and who wants Tesla to grow and be profitable, you are quibbling about the cost of the supercharging that you rarely use?

Vegan | December 4, 2018

I heard a rumor that they often add free supercharging at the end of each month/quarter to help boost sales. Not sure if it's true but if I were you I would definitely try to test the theory. Also, I'd just see if talking to another sales person might get me what I want instead of staying loyal to whoever was the first person from Tesla to reach out to you.

And you're 100% right about how Tesla doesn't recognize or appreciate customer loyalty. I feel like how they treated all us Model 3 reservation holders was terrible. Honestly, if Tesla had any real competition I'd probably go to them.

hammer @OR-US | December 4, 2018

I'm an early ModelS owner and I use Supechargers for road trips a lot. I am not a business man but I knew that free lifetime supercharging was not sustainable. When they announced the end of the program I bought a P3D t even though I wasn't planning on it to get the Supercharging. Sorry you missed the boat. Maybe they will offer it to you as a demand lever at some point but it doesn't seem like they need too.

VolleyballNE1 | December 4, 2018

This is about "loyalty". Not about the money associated with any supercharging. He clearly doesn't need that money. It's all about treating you kindly back for supporting you through the tough times. And supercharging is one of the bones that can convey such a thing. Makes you feel "special" and appreciated. There's not much that Tesla can do to show that besides something as simple as providing you the same perks you had before. They could have done that and made another happy customer and proud supporter without much impact to the bottom line since he doesn't use it that much anyway. "It's the thought that counts"

Earl and Nagin ... | December 4, 2018

Tesla gave us early Roadster buyers (I prefer to think of us as "Visionaries", not the "Early Adopters" who came after there was already a product to buy) the opportunity to buy enough stock at the IPO strike price to cover our Roadster's price. If that wasn't loyalty to early supporters who shared the risks with Tesla, I don't know what is.
How much and how long do you expect our payback to be? Besides, when I drive my vintage Roadster to any Tesla store or event, I'm The coolest kid with The coolest car in the coolest place with other coolest kids with the coolest cars :-)
Not bad for an old geek like me!

blue adept | December 5, 2018

@Vegan and VolleyballNE1

With the one exception of production due dates, Tesla has always been very specific and open about what they were doing.

As explained before, Tesla was very clear regarding which models qualified for lifetime SC access and for what period of time such access would be available, so I can only conclude that those who're expressing remorse or discontent are doing so solely for the purpose of disparaging Tesla.

People like that put me in mind of self-entitled perpetual pessimists who feel that the world owes them something and prefer to leech as much as possible from whatever or whomever they can instead of carrying their own weight/making their own way in the world...Pitiful.

Maybe you guys should just keep an eye out for a CPO from that era?


Perhaps you should just go and buy yourself a Prius...?!

Yodrak. | December 5, 2018

"if Tesla had any real competition I'd probably go to them."

Get a Volt. While you still can.

blue adept | December 5, 2018



Good one!

Madatgascar | December 5, 2018

Realize that it's really difficult for a company to parse customers that way. What constitutes a long time supporter? OK, you were an early adopter if you bought a Roadster. I got a Model S in late 2012, do I count? Does it matter if and when I bought TSLA, and how much? And what about a guy who didn't buy until 2014, but then bought 5 Teslas?

They should have the same prices and perks for everyone. I don't even think they should prioritize Tesla owners in the delivery queue, but they have done that. (Reason: rushing Teslas to Tesla owners displaces other EVs, not ICEs.)

Free supercharging is probably going to be a thing of the past, especially now that they are doubling down on the urban chargers that get all the use. Car prices are coming down to more than compensate for that loss. I prefer a pay-to-charge ecosystem anyway to avoid the "tragedy of the commons" outcome.

blue adept | December 5, 2018

It is and has been a long standing practice for businesses to offer time-sensitive allowances to prospective customers to encourage/incentivize potential buyers to purchase their goods/services/wares, or even just to participate in events, and all of you, every last one of you, are all old enough to be long well aware of this practice, so I find myself hard pressed to sympathize with this discontent, this, this...remorse you're expressing.

You are being petty and should stop because it's not a good look for you.

carlk | December 5, 2018

Be careful when someone claims he's loyal to you. He always want something from you to reward his "loyalty". Then he would leave you if you don't give it to him.

bp | December 6, 2018

Tesla originally marketed the supercharging as "free long distance" charging. And when they realized that a large number of owners wouldn't have easy access to "home" overnight charging, they could have modified the terms for the supercharging to geofence the free supercharging to a radius away from "home".

For owners that have access to home overnight charging, the annual supercharging use is relatively small (averaging 400 KWh per year?) - so the actual value of the "free unlimited supercharging" is pretty low, for most Tesla owners.

Tesla's marketing could benefit from going back to offering "free unlimited long distance supercharging" - and restrict the free charging to outside of a reasonable radius (100 miles?) from where vehicles have been parked overnight. Since Tesla will likely be the only manufacturer with their own charging network - this would be a benefit no other manufacturer would easily be able to match. And even though the actual value of this benefit is likely around $100-200 per year - it does sound great - and losing it for Tesla's current customers is causing some unnecessary angst.

Earl and Nagin ... | December 6, 2018

Good suggestions.
Agreeing also with @Madatgascar, I think we've definitely seen 'the tragedy of the commons' play out with Supercharging in some areas making long distance travel and Supercharger use by non-regulars difficult. Outside the Tesla realm, we've also seen it with free public L2 charging. . . . ever try to charge at the Glendale Galleria? Without some sort of "cost function" upon consumption unlimited greed takes over.
Fortunately also, Tesla doesn't charge any more than market rate for electricity for Supercharging so it doesn't actually hurt those for whom it is unrealistic to be able to charge at home.

jordanrichard | December 6, 2018

bp, geofencing supercharger capability has been discussed here before and it would work. Unless you or rather Tesla knows your travel intentions, you may be cutting people off from needed charging. There is a 16 stall SC site 8 miles from my house. If I lose power at my house, guess where I am going.... Also, what if I am returning from the other side of the state heading in the direction of my house, but I am not stopping at my house and need that charger near my house to keep going....?
As you can see, there are a lot of "what if's"

stuart.e.reed | December 6, 2018


mickspaan | December 6, 2018

I am completely with the FredM (the OP) I am in the same boat. This is not about being petty. You might as well say that Tesla is acting petty. I was the biggest fan ever, and I now feel dropped as a customer. I had the statement in clear writing in my account that if I would buy a new car, it would carry over. Seemed logical, to me the LEAST Tesla can do to thank an early adapter. Instead Tesla silently, without any customer notice, replaced that text in MY account with an expiration date that was already expired when it was added. Would Tesla did in this case, and in my case is not the way to tread existing customers. A word is a word. Simple. I posted my experience here:

Earl and Nagin ... | December 6, 2018

Nobody said people couldn't charge close to their home. They'd just have to pay for it.
I'd hardly call a company who has taken such huge risks and worked so hard against such overwhelming odds, to solve a huge problem facing our planet and civilization -- petty. You, of course are free to call whomever whatever you'd like.

SO | December 6, 2018

My adopter loyalty has been rewarded with TSLA.

carlk | December 6, 2018

That's so true. People can chose to be loyal to any other company they wish.

bp | December 7, 2018

For customers who already have FUSC (Free Unlimited Supercharging), Tesla may have to provide those vehicles supercharging, without any restrictions.

Going forward, if they reinstituted the program as FLDSC (Free Long Distance Supercharging), owners who would be supercharging near home, would not be expecting to get the supercharging for free - and would likely end up paying close to the local electricity rate for that charging, which wouldn't be unreasonable.

Because Tesla didn't provide any terms and conditions for what you actually get when vehicles have FUSC, that could make it difficult for Tesla to impose many restrictions on those vehicles. | December 7, 2018

Another reason for no free supercharging today are those that grossly abused the privilege. Tesla never thought the cars would be used as 15K miles/month taxi services and the like. These companies charge exclusively at Superchargers. Yes, some new policy going forward might fix it, but the easiest way is for Tesla to charge for the service. Even today the Supercharger costs are lower than my daytime PG&E rates, so they are not even passing on the cost of the equipment or maintenance. This has nothing to do with loyalty. For that matter, those that bought an older car still get lifetime free Supercharging.

blue adept | December 7, 2018

I think you and a couple others touched upon the actual issue at hand here, the bit about some owners using locally placed SC's exclusively for their charging needs as opposed to use solely during actual long distance road trips, as was originally intended, and whining about they're no longer being freely available.

Everybody wants something for nothing but suck it up people and invest in your commuting needs by installing a charging circuit in your residence, or perhaps that of a family member's residence that you can access, but knock this false acrimony off because it just makes you come across as trifling.

Just saying.