More Tesla owners than ever are loving their new ride. When it comes to overall customer satisfaction, Consumer Reports ranked Tesla number one in both 2018 and 2019. But the apparent love for the Tesla brand seems to be in spite of the company’s customer service practices--not because of them.
Tesla can be sloppy and inconsistent in the way it handles returns and refunds, leaving some customers stressed and others stranded with no car and no means to buy another until they get their money back.
In an effort to boost end of year sales in 2018, Elon Musk emphasized his company’s lenient return policy which promises a “full refund if Tesla can’t deliver your car this year” and “if you order a car without a test drive you get 3 days for a full refund.” The company’s return policy also includes a full refund if you give the car a test drive and return it within a day.
Companies across industries have found success by touting liberal return policies for their products. In a similar vein, Tesla’s policies sound like they’d benefit customers on the fence about buying.
Unfortunately, some customers are claiming the CEO’s tweets are too good to be true. Some say refunds took months to come in. Others attest they were only partially refunded within the time period they were guaranteed their money back, while still others claim they were misled by Tesla employees or never received notification Tesla had refunded them. On top of this, some customers were left carless since they couldn’t afford to buy a new car while waiting for their money.
Outside of the full refund for Tesla cars, customers also expressed frustration with the refund process for deposits. In a February 2019 report from Bloomberg, some customers who put down a $1,000 fully refundable deposit for a new Tesla struggled to get their money back after months of waiting. One customer said they reached out at least 50 times before receiving any kind of resolution while others said it took more than six months to get a refund.
Still other customers, such as Philadelphia talk radio host Rich Zeoli, said he used virtually every form of communication--including emailing, calling, and tweeting--to get Tesla’s attention for nearly six months without avail. “Tesla stopped communicating with me altogether,” Zeoli told Bloomberg.
Some customers say the poor refund experience eroded any trust they had in the company. After all, the luxury brand’s vehicles come with a high price tag and a reputation to protect. In response to the public outcry, Musk said improving service in North American was Tesla’s “No. 1” priority for 2019. Only time will tell if that’s truly the case.
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