Bogus idle charge has me fuming

Bogus idle charge has me fuming

The story...

I was making a long trip and needed to charge and grab a bite at the Menlo Park Mall. I arrived and 7 out of the 8 stalls were free. I hooked up and the estimate was 40 minutes, giving us ample time to walk to the food court (a 10 minute walk as it is at the complete opposite side of the Mall from the Superchargers). We ordered and it took 10 minutes to make (a couple of hotdogs and fries). Just as we sat down to eat we got a Tesla alert that we "may" be charged an idle fee as we were near charged. So we wolfed down our meal and took a brisk walk back to the car. We arrived 30 minutes from when we left to find we were hit with an idle charge. Bottom line: because the stalls were empty (still 6 out of 8 chargers available), the charge finished early (about half the estimated time). I've never had problems getting back in time to prevent an idle charge.

No problem, I sent an email to Tesla support to explain the situation. Since the purpose of the idle charge was to keep the stalls free (which they were) and the charge completion estimate was badly off, I expected a reasonable response. I got the automated response that they received the email but nothing afterwards. After weeks of silence I shot off a reply to the response email announcing that I'm still waiting for a response. Weeks later and still no response.

Do I put a dispute on the charge with the CC company? I know it's only $4, but it's the principal.

I try to be a good Telsa citizen. I have free lifetime supercharging but only use them when absolutely needed (once or twice a month). I charge at home daily and at my destination when available (sometimes tapping off a friend's electric dryer outlet while I'm visiting). I'm angry enough at this bait and switch tactic to charge at the local supercharger instead of my home. It will easily cost Tesla more than $4 in a matter of days and I might keep it up just on principal.

jlhm | 27 giugno 2019

When you received the message about idle fee did you use the app to increase the charge level thus delaying when charging would be finished?

ggendel | 27 giugno 2019

@jlhm I never thought about doing that. What a great idea.

OCModel3 | 27 giugno 2019

I don't want to be critical, but if you step back and look at the situation, it would be hard to call the charge "bogus" but more appropriately "unnecessary" given your described scenario.

First, as an experienced owner who has used supercharging multiple times before, you know that the time estimate provided at the beginning of the charge is just that--an estimate. It always takes awhile to balance out the charge speed, and knowing there were few stalls being used, you could have expected it to charge more quickly.

Second, with your Tesla app, you could have monitored the status all the time you were away from the car. The time estimate constantly updates. I was similarly at a food court one time and watched 10 minutes drop off my estimate by the time I had sat down.

Third, as suggested above, you could have adjusted your charge range if you thought you couldn't make it back in time and bought yourself more time to get back.

Finally, while I agree with you that the reason Tesla stated for charging the idle fees did not really fit your situation given the number of vacant charging stations, it still makes sense to consistently impose these fees as a deterrent to people leaving their cars unoccupied and blocking others from charging. We all know the idle fees exist and it enters our thinking to be diligent and monitor our charging status when we leave the cars. The station was not busy this time, but I've seen some stations change dramatically in just 15 minutes when four Teslas pull up within minutes.

I would just let it drop if it happened to me and adopt the "live and learn" mantra for a $4 cost. But to each his own I guess.

piper30069 | 27 giugno 2019

I was given a bogus charge at the Town Center station in Las Vegas. I was at a restaurant waiting for it to charge looking at my cell phone when it stopped charging at 170 miles.. This is after it took me moving my X to 3 different stalls as 2 didn’t work.. I reset the charge off my phone and pulled the car off at about 180 miles . After returning home I saw an email from TESLA with the idle charge.. I’ve also had several issues with service that have been frustrating..I’ve tried emailing Or calling to get some help.GOOD LUCK!!!! They don’t car!
I’m sorry I gave up my LEXUS for this.. | 27 giugno 2019

@piper30069 - Well Lexus is nice, but hate having to constantly go to gas stations, filling up in freezing or sweltering conditions, paying $100 a week for the privilege of breathing carcinogenic fumes. No thanks. Even if I got stuck with an occasional idle fee, far cheaper than any gas car and it's headaches and frequent oil changes. Maybe that's just me. Seems many people enjoy getting regularly fleeced at gas stations. Stations seem so busy, especially at Costco with suckers waiting 20 minutes to get to a pump. Glad I don't have to deal with it anymore.

MilesMD88 | 27 giugno 2019

Similar thing happened to me. Email said I had to put a CC on file for any future supercharging. If I had only moved the charge rate from my standard 75% to 100%, would have been fine. Got to talking with another owner & charging completed quickly. Rarely use supercharging, so my bad. They waived the fee for 1st offense. I have no problem paying fee for my the future.

David N | 27 giugno 2019

“Bogus idle charge has me fuming”
Fuming? Seriously? Over $4?
I can see being a bit annoyed, concerned, upset a bit but in all seriousness, “fuming”?
Tesla hasn’t perfected all that is involved and glitches are going to happen. We all know that communication is not their strong point.
“I'm angry enough at this bait and switch tactic to charge at the local supercharger instead of my home. It will easily cost Tesla more than $4 in a matter of days and I might keep it up just on principal.”
Oh my, so you say you’re going to supercharge instead of home charging so you can get back at Tesla. You sound like a vengeful person.

blue adept | 28 giugno 2019

@ggendel & @piper30069

Whoa, whoa, WHOA! Calm yourselves.

It's alright, you're among friends, this is a 'safe place'...Alright now, can you point to where the bad charger touched you? Do you feel you need an intervention? Did it try to hurt you in your no-no hole?

People, please, for the sake of the transition to renewable energy powered EV movement everywhere read your literature, follow the advice and just learn how to EV already, sheesh!

+1 @jlhm

ggendel | 28 giugno 2019

@blueadept Calm is relative. The last notification said, I MAY get an idle charge, it never said I would. This speaks volumes as it means that the fee is discretionary but it seems to be actually capricious and arbitrary with no recourse for disagreement, hence the "bait and switch" moniker.

@davidn $4 or $400, the amount is meaningless. If someone takes $1 from your hand and walks away you'll allow them to do it again? There are basic principals of fairness and decency that many of us strive to live by. If there are no repercussions to bad behavior why would they alter it? I've gone above and beyond with limiting my impact of others with respect to supercharging all I ask for back is their respect when I do have to use them.

Last, I completely disagree that I need to continuously monitor the charge state. If there is a significant change in time, then they should either honor the largest reported time or alert you if it changes dramatically (20 minutes instead of 40). My experience with chargers us usually that they end early, but never this early which is why planned to come back 10 minutes (25%) earlier than the estimate. How can you plan even something as basic as a bathroom run if you can't trust the estimate to be remotely close (50% error)?

NKYTA | 28 giugno 2019

You can't fix stupid. | 28 giugno 2019

Easy solution - just use J1772 for charging. Nice and slow, and you know (sort of) the price you have to pay. You never have to use a Supercharger or have Tesla charge you again. Keep in mind Supercharging is getting faster and faster, especially with V3 non-shared stalls. The more people that switch to slow J1772 charging will further reduce Supercharger usage too, a win for those that enjoy fast charging and want Tesla to continue to expand and speed the charging process.

Uncle Paul | 28 giugno 2019

Tesla has their idle fees policy to encourage owners from taking up charging spots when no longer actively charging.

Owners had some responsibility to be aware of their circumstances and move their cars when no longer charging.

They will put the $4.00 on your on file credit card, or ask for it when you go next in for service. Not worth the aggravation to fight over something you easily could have avoided.

Charging times are just an estimate. Your car may charger faster or slower, depending of lots of variable.s

Tesla2018 | 28 giugno 2019

I went to a supercharger and plugged in for a few minutes to see what speed it charged at since it is unlisted if you hit the supercharger location button and its at a service center figuring it would charge faster than the normal ones.. I only have used superchargers about 4 times to make sure that my car charges ok on them in case I ever need them and each time it showed the accrued charge on the screen. I usually stop after a few minutes. This time it didnt show any accruing cost on the screen so I thought it might be a free supercharger, so I kept the car plugged in while I connected to the service dept internet to see if I would get an update. A few minutes after inplugging it showed a $8.50 charge for supercharging.

Did they change it so it doesnt show the accruong cost anymore.I could have charged at home and it would have cost about $3. Not work getting upset for a few dollars. Gas would have cost two times as much as electricity in order to go the same distance.

Since the OP has free supercharging it only comes to $4 for all the miles you put on your car which I95is a bargain.

sschaem | 29 giugno 2019

You guys are a joke.... you are missing the point,. Its not about $4, its about how the company dont answer costumers and miss manage its idle fee policy.

Tesla clearly stated, to investors and costumer that the supercharging network was never about making profit.
The idle fee is solely to help Tesla manage busy charger location to have people move the car so another car can charge.

Here there was no reason to charge an idle fee as many stalls where free and available.

1) Tesla cant seem to manage their idle fee system, and overcharge people
2) Tesla cant seem to have a decent communication method to resolve issues

Its not about 4$... its about a company FAILING at the most basic custumer relation.

Maxxer | 29 giugno 2019

The number of time gas stations should have charged a 4$ idle fees for those old folks going to pay inside not moving their car when there is a line up at the pump and they come back with a coffee and chips after doing the 5 minute queue at the cashier.

I guess this will be a good thing for Tesla to charge $10 idle fee when they limp to the bathroom at the end of the mall parking lot. Customer service wise, are they going to provide handicaped supercharging Tesla exemptions?

Uncle Paul | 29 giugno 2019

Interesting to see people complaining that their EV charges too fast. Strange times.

blue adept | 30 giugno 2019

@ggendel & @sschaem

Ever and whatever, in all honesty I think you two are making far too big of a deal out of such a small, relatively insignificant thing and all, apparently, because you either don't have a home charging solution &/or don't know how to EV &/or didn't want to give up the parking space &/or simply got distracted and lost track of the time and are trying to pawn the blame for such an inconsequential charge for your own oversight onto Tesla simply because you cannot or are unwilling to accept the responsibility for your own actions, or inaction in this instance as the case may well be.


blue adept | 30 giugno 2019

@Uncle Paul

"Interesting" and exciting and even somewhat encouraging.

How's the saying go? “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can't please all the people all of the time”.

Irony at it's finest.


DanFoster1 | 30 giugno 2019

@sschaem Tesla has way more important things to do than play kindergarten teacher to well-to-do adults over $4. It’s ridiculous that people now complain their electric cars charge too fast. Is no one ever happy nor responsible for his own actions? Don’t answer that, I know the answer.

lilbean | 30 giugno 2019

Drive an ICE and you will literally be fuming.

Mike83 | 30 giugno 2019


jerrykham | 1 luglio 2019

If we were given the correct info in this thread there should not have been a fee. With 6 of 8 stalls available that is clearly below the requirements Tesla says triggers a charge (half or more need to be in use). So yes, this would make me mad too. Now for $4, I wouldn't post about it or email them or anything. It just wouldn't be worth my time. But for all of 5 minutes I would be a bit mad about it. Tesla should be able to manage this - if more than half of the stalls are available they should know it and not charge the fee. (It is possible, but not super likely that 2 more cars drove in, charged for 10 minutes and then left before our erstwhile poster got back - which would trigger the fee).

ggendel | 1 luglio 2019

Perhaps I'm over-reacting over $4. However, last Friday I had a new Tesla experience.

Bottom line is that I got a flat (tread punctured by a screw) and it took Telsa unreasonably long for roadside service (the local service center was about 15 miles away). It took them over 30 minutes initially with me on the phone to figure out what they would do, just in time for all the local repair places to close so they decided to send us a loaner wheel. After 3 hours I had to send my wife on a Lyft run to get us something to eat since the nearest place with food was 10 miles away. After 4.5 hours waiting for Tesla, a local body shop across the street just happened to open up for evening work. They fixed the flat for $10. I canceled with Telsa (which they said would still take another hour).

So... since this cost me $10 (plus dinner and our time), I shouldn't be upset at this too, right?

peter_m_o | 1 luglio 2019

Maybe this is why they're locating chargers in spaces that are the furthest away from the mall. A long walk to the mall and a long walk back means that many users will be hit with idling charges. They're currently installing them at Target Cherry Hill NJ in spaces that nobody ever uses (because they're the furthest from any store). I doubt they'll ever have more than 25% usage at any given time.

NKYTA | 1 luglio 2019


If you think Tesla is trying to make a business model out of collecting idling fees, you are smoking something pretty strong.

andy.connor.e | 1 luglio 2019

I mean, the way i see it is that the charging estimator not being accurate while having an idle charge is only going to make people have to sit by their car in order to avoid fees. This is exactly the opposite that Tesla is going for with these supercharger stops and such. If its going to take 40 minutes to charge, then Tesla needs to be reasonable about it. If its going to take 5-10min to charge, i dont think anyone is going to mind sitting by their car for that long.

But if the charging time estimator is not going to be accurate, then this idle fee is going to drive people nuts. Additionally, completely agree on the notion of the situational awareness. Idle fee purpose is to stop people from sitting at superchargers for long periods of time taking up a spot for someone else. There needs to be a parameter where say if 6/8 slots are full, you should be charged an idle fee. But if literally only 2/8 are being used, i dont see why you cant take your time. If they start to fill up, your phone should send u a notification that say 5/8 slots are full now, and you should anticipate returning to your car soon (if its near or at full charge).

I dont know dude, if this damned self-driving stuff would just get on board, then the cars could just unplug themselves and move to a regular parking spot, and then all of this stupid idle fee bullcrap, people taking up charging spaces unnecessarily would just come to a screeching halt.

nukequazar | 1 luglio 2019

I think we should always get a 15-minute warning no matter when the charge actually finishes. I got my first idle fee also (waved), but I just didn't have enough time to get back from when I got the last warning, and it finished early. The system should send a 15-minute warning, but then even if it finishes in 10 minutes, we should still get 15 to get back.

blue adept | 1 luglio 2019


It's sad, I know, to finally learn that you're not the only person in the world who just might own a Tesla and be in need of some 'roadside assistance'.

Granted, there has been a lot of negative publicity about Tesla regarding owner's customer service experiences, so I can commiserate on a certain level, but you seem to be jinxed or something. Who knows, maybe someone is going out of their way to make your Tesla experience an unfavorable one? Maybe it's psychosomatic and you're actually sabotaging yourself/are naturally klutzy?

IDK, maybe you just need to get right with God or something.

Seriously, you're beginning to sound like one of those pampered, entitled, whiny types who likes to manufacture melodrama by making a mountain out of a mole hill just to deflect attention away from your own ineptitude.

Learn how to commute, I mean, damn.

blue adept | 1 luglio 2019



You has a funny.

blue adept | 1 luglio 2019

As @jlhm pointed out, Tesla's app allows you to adjust the charge rate, enabling you to either increase or decrease the amount of time needed to reach your desired charge level.

Much the same is the case with notifications about your Tesla's charge level, @nukequazar, so that, too, has already been thought of and provided to customers as part of Tesla's service. Now, if you're not receiving notifications in a timely manner, then perhaps it's time to change your wireless plan with your service provider?!

Other than that, if you're car is charging faster than the amount of time you thought would be required, well, perhaps you didn't even need to charge it at all and were either just being extraordinarily cautious or wanted the parking space.

Tesla better, people, you CAN do it.

lilbean | 1 luglio 2019


NKYTA | 1 luglio 2019

I’ve been to 560 unique SCs over the years, so you can probably double or triple that for those I’ve hit multiple times.

This OP, is wrong, statistically.

Boo, Effingham, hoo.

ggendel | 2 luglio 2019

@blueadept Since I got home with 11 miles on the battery, I think I needed the 100+ miles at that charger.

We on the East Coast have to spend a lot of time planning any long trip. I typically have to assume an extra 40 miles to divert to chargers. Some, in construction, will help but currently it's a royal pain. Try planning a round trip for a 60D (with ~210 mile range) from Wilmington DE, to Morristown NJ up PA 95 (the most direct route). I have to forget PA 95 and go way East to the NJ Turnpike and pick up bridge and turnpike tolls and add an extra 40 miles which takes longer. There are times I've given up and taken my wife's Subaru after spending hours trying to plan a trip without a reasonable outcome.

Don't get me wrong, I love my Tesla but it's not a panacea. There are issues and unless they are brought up things won't get better. If I was told that my range would decrease by 40% in the winter when I discussed my range concerns to the sales team, I would have opted for a larger battery. As it is, I've had to run without heat in freezing weather a couple of times to make it home because there were no chargers near my route. I chalk that to my own missed due diligence and optimism that they would have more chargers in place by now.

@NKYTA I'm lost at what you were trying to say.

@libean Thanks for the laugh

NKYTA | 2 luglio 2019

"We on the East Coast have to spend a lot of time planning any long trip."

No, you really don't. From northern VA to Boston and back to Philly, I hit 33 SuperChargers in 24 hours. I could have hit more, but I'd already been to them.

The middle and near west of the country is where things are more of a challenge, depending on where you want to get in what period of time.

"If I was told that my range would decrease by 40% in the winter when I discussed my range concerns to the sales team,"

Maybe in MN or Canada...but people often cite 30% even in really cold conditions.

"I chalk that to my own missed due diligence and optimism that they would have more chargers in place by now."

In 107k miles and 6.5 years, I've had to turn off Climate twice to make it to the next charger (on that just in the last 10 miles and unclear if it would have really mattered). In the early days, you planned ahead with Level 2 charging alternatives in case a SC was down for whatever reason. That was planning.

We are quite happy to be a two Tesla family, no ICE. It hasn't stopped us from taking any trips that we wanted to.
Tesla cars are not for everyone.
Don't overdo the hyperbole.

NKYTA | 2 luglio 2019

I've never gotten an idle fee in all that time, Supercharging over 1500 times at 560 different chargers.

ggendel | 3 luglio 2019

@nkyta Thanks for the clarification. This was my first idle charge, I've never had a situation like this before.

BTW, the Tesla response was not encouraging. They say that they can't refund the idle charge. This statement says that the people that said they got refunds liars or they clamped down on that outcome.

Techy James | 3 luglio 2019

From the Owners manual Section Supercharger Usage Fees and Idle Fees : "Idle fees are in effect only when half of the Superchargers at a site are occupied. The Tesla mobile app notifies you when charging nears completion, and again when charging is complete. Additional notifications are sent if idle fees are incurred. Idle fees are waived if you move your vehicle within five minutes of charging completion."
Based on this qualification @ggendel is correct there shouldn't have been an idle fee. To qualify for Idle fee at less 4 of the 8 bays would have to be in use. Since counting his car only 2 bays was in use, the Idle fee was incorrectly charged. Since that is the source of information for the fee's both parties Owner and Tesla are obligated to abide by the fees as stated in fair use policy.
While some may say this is small amount, the amount is not in question here, the fact that person was charged a fee where the Fair Use Policy clearly defines the situation as a case not qualifying for the fee is what is in question. In a court of law, Tesla would be required to prove at the time the user's vehicle was connected after the 5 minutes had expired that at least 3 other cars was plugged in. So he is right in expecting to be able to contact Tesla and get the fee waived.

NKYTA | 3 luglio 2019

@Techy, the. OP said "We arrived 30 minutes from when we left to find we were hit with an idle charge. Bottom line: because the stalls were empty (still 6 out of 8 chargers available)"

He/she has no idea if 4 (or more) of 8 stalls were taken at some point during that 30 minutes that he was gone. Totally possible that that happened.

SCCRENDO | 3 luglio 2019

Early on we have lifetime free supercharging. But instead of appreciating it we ended up with douchebags that would clog superchargers. Some would remain parked while doing outlet shopping and taking in movies. Locals felt entitled and would spend Friday evenings at the San Juan Capistrano supercharger at a Mexican restaurant. This was the only charging option at the time between the LA area and San Diego. So this is what it has come to. People need to charge and go. If you got idle fees you got what you deserved. I say double them for the next offense

ggendel | 8 luglio 2019

@sccrendo. I checked with the User's Manual and it does state that there will be no fee imposed if there are more than half of the chargers available. Since this was the case, your statement is tangential to this thread. In the last email, I was told that, for the first offense, the fee is automatically refunded. However, I have not received a refund. So Tesla states two policies, one in the manual and one via email but then doesn't follow through. Respect is a two-way street.

blue adept | 8 luglio 2019


All in all from your own admission it appears that the majority of your issues seem to stem from your choosing to opt for the cheaper battery, a choice which comes with its own nuances (like limited range options), as you're learning, but this inconvenience is still one that you brought on yourself and not, necessarily, due to the practices of Tesla.

I think you need to take some cues from @NKYTA (living the life!) and others here on how to better EV.

Granted, there is a small learning curve involved in the transition, but it is a relatively short and shallow one, more a matter of adapting one's behavior/practices/routines to the new paradigm, but it's easy enough once you get the hang of it.

Luckily for you Tesla's Supercharger Network now totals some 13,344 thousand with SEVERAL additions to the East Coast!:

I'd suggest you stop bemoaning the small stuff which, by all indications, ultimately appear to be the result of your own choices, and just learn to enjoy the endless benefits of BEV's like the rest of us.

blue adept | 8 luglio 2019

FWIW I frequent the East Coast from time to time, all throughout the New England area in fact, and have experienced no problems whatsoever with locating a Supercharger or even a Destination Charger because they are plentiful, as the map clearly depicts:

Have a look for yourself!

ggendel | 9 luglio 2019

@blue_adept. I've had my S for two years so I don't need any more experience with charging. I agree that it's getting better, slowly, if you stick to highways. However, sometimes routes require me to go up to 20 minutes out of my way to charge. This I plan for and accept. However, this is not the issue I'm talking about.

If a policy is stated in print (the Owner's Manual) it should be adhered to. Otherwise what other violations are in store? I've charged dozens of times throughout NJ, DE, MA, PA, and VA and never ever violated published charging policies or etiquette (including this time). Sorry if I have a strong sense of right and wrong that may perturb a few individuals. I believe that I'm looking out for everyone's interest by pointing out a wrong and following through to have it corrected.

I'd love to publish the email conversations I had with Tesla support so all could see what's going on, but I don't want to go down that rabbit hole.

SCCRENDO | 9 luglio 2019

OP pay your fine and move on. Learn a lesson and move your car quicker next time. The principle is to charge and move on so you don’t cost others more in time and money because you were too slow to move your car

blue adept | 9 luglio 2019

If only you'd of chosen a larger battery pack/learned how to use your Tesla phone app....