Tesla is oftentimes accused of presenting a shiny veneer to the public and its shareholders, only to show its ugly side to employees and customers. In the latter case, Tesla seems to have a tendency to prioritize producing new cars over supplying parts to fix existing ones, which can leave owners waiting weeks for service. This only worsens the Tesla ownership experience for customers who find their cars cobbled together, or without crucial components like suspension fasteners. Or, in the case of Model 3 Performance owner April Gillmore, something as basic as a brake pad.
Gillmore, who showed her written exchanges with Tesla to The Drive, took delivery of her EV on Dec. 19, only to notice a worrying scraping sound from the driver-side rear wheel while driving. The following day, she reported the issue to Tesla, which told her no appointments for inspection were available any sooner than three weeks out. The next day, Gillmore was offered a prompter appointment at a third-party shop, but feeling it was inappropriate, she declined, only for Tesla to later tell her the offer was a mistake, and finally request a video of the issue.
Gillmore recorded the above video to send to her Tesla service advisor, who claims multiple technicians listened to the video, only to declare “the brakes sounded normal for a performance Model 3.” Gillmore didn’t buy it and pushed to get an appointment sooner, only to be told to get the car towed in if she was worried.
She was right to be concerned, as by Dec. 23 the noise had gotten so bad that she visited an independent local Tesla shop, where a technician removed a wheel to discover the inside brake pad on the left-rear corner was missing. In a video captured by said tech, he posits that the car likely needs not just a pad, but also a new rotor and brake caliper. Only after seeing this video, Gillmore says, did the Tesla service center invite her in.
At the time of service, Gillmore says Tesla had no loaner to offer her (one has since been given, albeit with expired tags), and instead supplied her with Uber credits to use. As her car was at the shop over a holiday weekend, she didn’t have the chance to check in until Dec. 27, when she was told the parts were on order and that her car was expected to be ready on the 31st. That day, her car’s ETA was pushed back to Jan. 7, on which date she was told parts still weren’t available, and that her car was being delayed to Jan. 14 as a result.
It was at this point Gillmore asked about having her car bought back, to which the Tesla service manager responded by offering to cover a payment. She accepted the offer but also requested Tesla reimburse her for the $100 inspection at an independent shop. Tesla has since delayed her car’s completion yet again, though this time by only five days, to Jan. 19.
“I have never purchased a new or used vehicle that was under warranty and had this type of experience with a service department,” Gillmore told me. “I absolutely do not trust the Tesla brand in any way. Not only did they deliver a car to me that was unsafe to drive, but they also blew me off about the noise the car was making, and now they’re dragging their feet on making things right. If they can build and ship new Model 3Ps then why can’t they repair the ones that they’ve already sold to people? I had no clue that Tesla treated their customers this way prior to this experience.”
Gillmore’s experience with Tesla’s customer service has left her “conflicted” about keeping her Model 3 long-term.
“I’m going to see how things play out and whether or not Tesla tries to make this right. After all of this, I cannot fathom that they would give me the car back with any issues, but I’m definitely unsure how I feel about keeping it or if I even want it back. At this point, I’ve lost days of my life to dealing with their mistake and their issues so making a move to another brand of car is looking like a good idea.”
Since Tesla no longer has a media relations department, The Drive was unable to reach out to the automaker for comment.
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