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Letter to George Blankenship

Posted this letter to George Blankenship today. Thoughts?

George,
I am a long-time fan of Tesla with an order in for a P85 (VIN: P17616) due to be delivered on August 22. Let me start by acknowledging what an extraordinary thing you all at Tesla are doing for your customers and the world at large. Thank you.

I am writing today because I noticed that Tesla is now offering the Parking Sensors for $500. I would love to add those to my configuration, but I am seeing in the forums that Tesla is only allowing me to add the sensors if I am willing to reconfigure my order, which would cost me several thousand dollars more than my current $114,453.00. I have already arranged financing for this amount. I have already signed the Tesla purchase agreement. All I want to do is install the parking sensors that you are currently offering.

This seems grossly unreasonable. And, in the past, Tesla seems to have always chosen the reasonable course.

Given Tesla's interest in providing world-class customer service to people willing to spend more than $100,000 on a car, I would hope that Tesla would be more accommodating for those few of us who fall between the cracks and have made a commitment, arranged financing, signed the paperwork, but whose car has not been built or delivered yet. I have to believe that the parking sensors will be available as an aftermarket upgrade sometime in the near future (likely at a higher cost than the $500 Design Center option). I also have to believe that it will be more costly to add the $500 parking sensors as a retrofit, since you will likely need to remove the nose cone and rear numbers, drill some holes and install the sensors. If that is the best you can do, I will wait for the retrofit option. However, this seems like a classless solution being offered by a very classy car company. Is there not a compromise between paying thousands of dollars for reconfiguring the car just to get a $500 feature (A feature that probably should have been part of the Tech Package already) and being forced to wait until the car is completed, then have to bring it all the way back to Tesla, wait for days, and pay extra for the retrofit? This doesn't sound like world-class customer service to me.

The minor cost of accomodating those few of us who are in this situation would seem trivial when compared to the loss of image to the elite Tesla Brand. Or, at the very least, would it not be more indicative of world-class service to offer to install these new options in those cars currently going through their builds for some incremental amount above the current Design Center List Price but below the expected retrofit price. Everyone would be a winner and you would once again be viewed as stepping up to another level of customer service.

I hope you can resolve this. In any event, I remain a big fan and a hope to be happy customer driving my P85 very soon. Thank you again for all that you and your employees do for us.

Warm regards,

I just got my 85P/Pano/Tech Package/Loaded. I want the parking sensors, smart cruise control, etc. All these are safety features and are not that expensive to implement. Toyota offers this stuff for next to nothing price.

There is not point getting worked up about these issues. Unless somebody has money that is rotting, these features are not worth the price. Just got to be careful with parking or starting to move the car. Makes sure no kids, animals are around.

I have so much fun driving the car, I do not care that much. In 3-5 years, Tesla is going to add all kinds of features. Look at the Mercedes Benz S550/2014. Then Tesla will had 500 mile battery, AWD, etc. All good, but what I have is also very good.

Just my opinion.

+1 Bubba2000

I spent a good part of the morning on Saturday exchanging emails with Jerome on this exact item. I also spent time on with a product specialist -- and ALMOST removed some extras from the car to get the price to match my current finance and cash plan for buying the car... luckily my wife convinced me to stay the course with my current model. I also got bad news that my delivery date was pushed a week. I feel like I've aired my concern with Jerome, but feel free to add me to the signature line.

Perhaps Monday different thinking will emerge.

ThorensP,

pls. add myself to the list, I suggested a petition to Tesla earlier today. VIN#17844, P85, finalized 7/3, delivery expected 9/16, planned to go into production 8/26.

From phone discussions with Palo Alto CS folks this morning, they have a list of people who called for the exact same issue/situation, they added me to the list and in an hour an OEA (Ownership Experience Advocate) emailed me that there will be a clarification of the retrofit details in the next weeks, replied that I want to add the "retrofit" as part of the assembly steps and not having to bring the car back to a service center to install them as my time is valuable too.

My opinion is that they expected this reaction, the fact that the new options didn't showed up on the web yesterday as expected makes me feel they knew its coming and that there will be a positive reaction from TMM to this.

By the way I think this should be applied to the fog lights too, folks complained about the disappearing of them back in the spring. I personally asked about them when I was in the local TM show room back in May and was reassured by the sales folks that it is standard with the Performance.

Please add me to the signature list.
VIN****16961

Bob

I also sent an email, although I sent it to Jerome Guillen (or at least I hope, based on what I'm guessing his email address is).

----------------------------------------------

Hi Jerome-

I’ve been looking at buying a Model S for a long time and on July 31, I placed my order (RN899388) and entered my 14-day confirmation window where I can “make as many changes to [my] Model S design as [I] like.”

So, when I woke up this morning, I saw that there are now new options, including one that I want to add: parking sensors. But when I logged into My Tesla, I am not allowed to add any new options. So, I called Inside Sales and was told that I can either a) keep my existing configuration without parking sensors; or, b) get parking sensors, but re-price all the other options under the new pricing structure.

I didn’t get angry with the individual on the phone, because he was just communicating the policy that I’m sure he was told to. This doesn’t mean, however, that I’m not extremely disappointed with how Tesla is handling this. Everything I’d heard was about how Tesla was supposed to be different from all the automakers, but as I finally make the transition from observer/shareholder to actual customer and Model S owner it sure doesn’t feel like it.

Let’s pretend you go to a clothing store to shop for a new suit. You spend the time finding the perfect one for you with a price tag of $1,000, and you go to the cash register to check out. The sales person then says, “Oh, we actually have a brand new tie that’s $100 and it just became available today.” But when you say that you’d like to buy it, they tell you that if you want it, they’ll need to charge you $1,200 for the suit because you want the tie. If that store is customer service-oriented, then it makes no sense. It’s the same suit that you agreed to buy at $1,000. They priced the tie at $100. Why should you have to pay more on the suit just to get the tie at the price they’re offering it for?

Am I threatening to cancel my order? No. But for what I was hoping was going to be a long-term relationship, it’s certainly getting off on the wrong foot, and the buying process will leave a bitter taste in my mouth.

My car isn’t in production yet. I agreed to a price when I put my deposit down. Tesla made a new option available for $500. I haven’t confirmed my order and am supposed to be able to make as many design changes as I want until August 13--yet I can’t add the option for $500 (as it’s priced to anyone placing an order today) without Tesla going back against our agreed pricing on the other options. This means that the $500 parking sensors would actually cost me an extra $5,400 to get the exact same configuration + parking sensors.

I’m not asking for a retrofit. I’m not asking for a car to go back on the production line. All I’m asking is that I can add a $500 option to a car that hasn’t entered production while still honoring the price of all the other options that we agreed to when I made my deposit.

I gained a lot of respect for you and Tesla after hearing you speak at TESLIVE. Unfortunately, seeing how these new options and price changes are being handled is making me lose some of it—although I still hold out hope that Tesla does the right thing in the end, which seems to be the track record.

Regardless, I still look forward to owning what I expect to be the best car I’ve ever owned, and I appreciate your listening to customer feedback.

@pdx4s,

Yeah, the girl that I spoke to that called me sounded like she was getting beat up all day about this. I was firm but polite with her but I stressed to her that this did NOT make any sense. She did mention that several other people she spoke to complained about it.

But then she went into a diatribe about it being wise for me to remove options that I originally ordered so I could afford the $7,000 PDC. LOL.

She didn't know much about retrofit options but I asked her if there was some list to get on and she said she would take my information but didn't seem to know much about it.

I know this is a VERY basic way of looking at this but I look at it this way to really dumb it down. You are going to cater an event and you order a bunch of expensive pizzas. And when you originally order it, they don't stock fennel sausage. Then several weeks before the catered event, you see online that this restaurant now offers fennel sausage for an extra fee. So you call up the restaurant and tell them that you see it's now available and you'd like to add on the sausage and more than willing to pay the same price advertised on their website for the sausage.

But then they tell you that although they haven't even started making the pizzas, they are selling pizzas with sausage for a fee, they will only allow you to order it if you cancel the entire order and reorder adding in the sausage costing much more than just adding on the advertised sausage. Sure, they might have raised the price of pizzas the day before but adding in just the "sausage" won't cost them anymore and I'm still willing to pay for it. That's all I'm saying.

I realize this is a REALLY dumbed down version of it but in many ways it's very similar. It would be different if they already started making the pizzas but that is far from the case.

It'll always be more expensive when adding a sausage where it wasn't supposed to be. ;-)

What makes you think you are so special? 15000(?) people have bought the Tesla already and will pay extra if they want the sensors. If you really want them, start your order again. Tesla are giving you that option.

You knew what you were ordering when you ordered it. Follow through on the order or start again at the new price.

Earlyretirement

"I think rather than some of you asking to be added, let your voice be heard and email Mr. George Blankenship at gblankenship@teslamotors.com."

+1 Let our voices be heard. Send your emails.

@redders,

What makes me so special? Because I'm a valued Tesla customer. ANY Tesla customer should be treated valuably. Those 15,000 people that already ordered a Tesla Model S are also very valuable and if they were in the middle of an order for a car that has NOT gone into production then all 15,000 customers should also expect to be able to add it. But that is far from the case.

You are clouding the situation, IMHO, when you bring in people that already ordered the car. What makes some of our situations special is that our cars have NOT yet gone into production yet (confirmed by Tesla).

I always believe in life to be completely objective and I don't find what some of us are asking is unreasonable. Again, the biggest separator here is for people whose car hasn't yet entered production.

And I'd honestly agree to some "retrofit" fee even if it's above the $500 fee. I just don't believe it's ethical, or fair or even makes good business sense to ask people to do their order again just to add on the PDC.

I think it's also ok for us to agree to disagree on this point. I simply believe in business there is the right way to do things and there is a wrong way of doing things and I can't objectively say Tesla in this instance is doing the right thing.

+1ThorensP

Honestly, this is why Tesla or Elon or George should have announced it in advanced of any changes and stating their policies rather than just changing the website without any notice. That is how they prevented any misunderstanding in Dec 2012 because they announced the price change well in advanced.

The current orders should be honored and given the option to add. It's not great service for the customers that are in between with the production and options. All it takes is communication! I haven't met a single Tesla owner who wasn't understanding of these kinds of situations but communication is everything in these types of cases.

As Bubba2000 mentioned, Toyota has most things standard albeit a higher starting price but that's why it is simpler and easier to understand a Toyota than a Ford or GM car.

If they're going to add an option they should just add that one option and keep the same package. And if a price increase is needed they should announce it in advance like last year so that people who are already committed can get their car the way they were promised. I hope they respond to your letter. It would be uncharacteristic of them if they didn't.

@ TeslaEV,

I SO agree with you that good communications is key. You know internal communications isn't good when the Delivery Experience Specialists don't really know how things will be. That's a tell tale sign to me.

With the flexible option now, in a way you can get a the exact version of MODEL S you want for cheaper price than before though there is overall price increase per option. You are not forced to buy options you don't really want as before that probably ended up costing you more than the current set up. U have more flexibility with choosing options now. That can translate into cheaper car for many.

Thinking of getting a model S, but something about this recent incident seems off. I would imagine that the purchase agreement with Tesla locks in the cost and features (which would be important, as I am thinking of getting a low-interest-rate loan at the local credit union). Is that not the case? The entire situation seems strange ...

@nonchalance

Yes, it is true that "the purchase agreement with Tesla locks in the cost and features". I don't think anyone is claiming otherwise.

The point of this thread is that people have already locked in an order, but some new options (parking sensors, etc.) have become available *after* they locked in their order. They are rightfully upset that adding a new $500 feature to their locked-in order forces them to re-order the entire car at a much higher price.

Elon has done the right thing in the past, when mistakes have been made. I'm hoping he will do the right thing this time, too.

@Xerogas ah yeah that seems lame, especially if the cars haven't hit the production line yet (upon re-reading, I see that's what happened to quite a few people). Strictly speaking, is the parking sensor needed? I didn't try parking in my test drive, but it didn't seem any harder than any other sedan ...

@earlyretirement Agreed. It's really bad when the upper management goes off on its own. It's a head without the body. Especially with major changes, it should be a company wide notice before it hits the public since it is their jobs to specialize in the delivery process, hence their job title. They need a hard look at their direct sales model and why they are doing it. We have to talk about prices??? This is what I hated about dealerships.

@justineet I agree that you have a more flexible choice but people who got what they wanted configured exactly the same options as before and came out with several thousand dollars more even if those people had delivery dates in the next week or five months ago. I agree with you that you can get exactly what you want. But the issue that many Tesla customers are having are the people who are stuck in between. Some already did ALL their paperwork just days before the changes. If the price changes by several thousand, their finance deals are going to be affected dramatically. And if they have to pay more for the exact same thing that doesn't make sense since they never communicated this. Some people just want one of the new options(PDC) and they have to pay 5k more. Also, DS are giving conflicting information above all. If they had laid out everything a few weeks back and how they will deal with the people in between then this would have been avoided. This isn't just about the price but a matter of principle and customer service. Giving people the option to add the PDC or some other minor new option should be a long term courtesy for the "early adopters" Why? Because Model S owners go out and advertise the very car they bought. They also promised a much superior customer service experience than a dealer and this situation doesn't showcase it.

My order went in last week. If I redesign with same options and add the $500 parking sensor, I would have to pay an additional $9,350. My existing reservation #914983 would go from $110,220 to $119,570. Even worse, I actually thought parking sensors were included in my original reservation. Wow, I was shocked! First glitch in an otherwise pristine buying experience. I really want parking sensors, but for $9k, I could just hire a full-time parking assistant who yells when I'm too close to the car in front of me.

@TeslaEV....for anyone who has placed an order prior to the new pricing their prices or features are not affected. Only if they want to add a new feature their prices would be affected. Now I do understand some of the arguments for those have placed orders but have not received their cars yet perhaps they should be able to get new features w/o increasing the prices for options they have already ordered. Perhaps that can be accommodated. But I don't think that is as simple process as many people think. For one thing, the cars are at different stages of productions. That could mean major costly reworks depending on the new options requested. Second, we don't know how many orders Tesla has in their books currently. It could be multiple 10s of thousands....that would mean a big hit financially for Tesla.

@TeslaEV.....forget my argument of major retrofitting work on lots of cars. Since Tesla makes only about 500/week, at worst they will have to make retrofit works on about 500 cars. That's not huge in my opinion. But my other argument stands...if Tesla has 10s of thousands of orders currently, it will be significant financial hit on them.

CheckeredFlag +1. Where do I send my resume? I have good vocal chords!

I posted this elsewhere (http://www.teslamotors.com/en_HK/forum/forums/adding-parking-sensor-hold-) but worth repeating here.

I think this could turn into a pretty stupid PR move. Elon counts on early adopters to spread the buzz on a pretty darn amazing car. But are we going to be just as effusive about this car and this company after this? Probably not.

I too have a Model S in early production - still 'sourcing parts' according to my build page - and have emailed my salesman and delivery specialist about adding the parking sensors to my order. Haven't heard anything yet. So my equivalent build under the new pricing would be about $7,500 more. For a $500 option that should have been on this large luxury car from the start? That's ridiculous. I can see the headline now - '$7,500 Parking Sensor Snafu Dampens Tesla Enthusiasm, Stock Price'.

Seriously, how many people could this be affecting? 400? That's about 2% of all Model S owners. Elon - make it right and offer those of us who committed before the price increase the option to add the sensors for $500.

If nothing changes, I will stick with my current build, but I won't be happy. And I'll stop proselytizing about a company that I really thought was different - that just did the right thing for their customers. Sad in a way.

@SarahsDad- I want the parking sensors on both of my Tesla Model S's.

Do you think I can "waltz" into Fremont and add them for $500???

@skymaster,

What stage is "both of your Tesla Model S's" in? I assume you already took delivery of them. Yes? Again, what we are talking about here are people stuck in an awkward time frame who have already ordered but our cars haven't yet entered production.

I'm not sure why this difficult situation can't be understood by some of you out there? I'm quite confident if you were in the same situation you would be puzzled and frustrated as well.

@earlyretirement

We took delivery in March and May.

I would not be "puzzled and frustrated".

I would just pay the piper and order the car that I wanted.

I will buy more cars from Tesla. Sorry, I will not whine.

Should I be pissed off that Tesla did not have these options when I bought my Model's just a few months ago???

@ skymaster,

Yes, exactly. You took delivery in March and May. Enough said. Everything else is a moot point.

I have sent my email to George Blankenship expressing my dissatisfaction. Anyone who is currently entering production or has a reservation with the old pricing should be allowed to add new options and simply pay the difference for the new option without re-pricing all other options. Why? Because we are not making changes to any other option, so why would the other options have to be re-priced? We are adding what was not there before, not changing existing options that have already been priced.

@ skymaster, with all due respect your individual situation is not what we are discussing here. This is not about people who already have their vehicles, this is about people who still have reservations and have not entered the production cycle and where it would be very easy for Tesla to add the parking sensors and/or other options. My car is "in production" but early enough in the process where my options can still be changed. Tesla offered to add two options to my car, but adding those options would require all of my options - including ones that were already priced and agreed to over a month ago - to be re-priced to current levels. This does not make any sense.

@redders +1 No one was treated unfairly in any way. Everything availalbe and pricing of such were presented very clearly at the time when they finalized their orders. Some greedy people just want to have the cake and eat it too but they don't hesitate to accuse Tesla of not being fair to THEM.


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