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Ok Tesla, You Are Playing a Dangerous Game (With MY Company)

Updated Feb 12, 2014
As mentioned elsewhere in detail in this thread, Tesla address my one friend's passenger window and leak issue. The window was "clicking" on a internal securing clip that was not fully seated. It took the tech 15 minutes to pull the panel and reseat the clip. The leak was a slightly askew gasket for the wind shield washer fluid level sensor. The tank would leak down to the sensor level (slowly) and then stop. The service tech pulled back the inner fender liner and reseated the sender with the gasket in the correct location. Problem solved.

My wife's car was addressed during the same ranger visit. We pulled the funk liner (yep, he let me help and did not charge extra) and we isolated the one hard line leaving the AC compressor where it wraps over the steering column. Tesla is aware of this issue and I've not heard a peep about it a very long time.

Lastly, my other friend with the red car got an absolutely perfect car delivered. I went by the now open West Palm Beach service center and looked it over before my buddy took delivery. The panel gap was better than either my first, second or my wife's car which just means Tesla is getting better.

Everyone is now very happy. I'm taking delivery of another MS in a few weeks and expect I will get a perfect car.

Reposted from a long term investor thread over on TMC-

"My last two converts picked their cars up on Friday and Saturday. The Friday delivery had a long list of quality related problems (Door panels not aligned, trim panels not in place, GPS not working, charge cover indicated as open when it is not....). The Saturday delivery only had one small quality issue. Both said the delivery process was awful. The Friday delivery knew more about the car than the Delivery "Specialist". The Saturday delivery showed up with his whole family at fifteen till two for a two delivery and did not make it out of the SC until five. Both have come away with a very bad taste in their months while still saying the car is absolutely wonderful.

I expect startups to have issues. Lord knows I've had my share and customers are forgiving in the beginning. However, the beginning has passed (and having taken delivery of three cars during that time, Tesla was doing a reasonably good job) and now we are into the controlled growth stage. Tesla could very well see the current growth for the next few years then be hit again with a huge bump when they do G3. If this is how Tesla is going to handle sustained growth, I'm no longer worried about funding but more about middle management competence and upper management's inability to asses middle management and know not to push end of quarter volume up so high.

Rant over..... I just feel like an idiot because I set these guys up to go buy the car. It's a shame as the first six I sent down went so well."

Tesla,
You are beyond the we little guys are just getting stated so give us a break phase. You have, and thus should continue, to do better than this. Please do not foul up MY company with short sighted thinking and poor execution.

Where is the SC of concern located?

Understandable for you to be frustrated by that @lolachampcar. Tesla has no formal marketing and customer experience is driving sales, this per Elon himself. That delivery day is the proverbial "first chance to make a good impression" All attempts should be made to have this happen, from factory QC to competent DS. I think you can at least tell your friends that like others before them with issues, Tesla has a good record of making right what ever may have been wrong. I think this is all you can ask from a company growing this rapidly.

As a side note, is it just me or does 5.0 seem to be really buggy?? GPS issues, sensor issues, etc. that do not seem to be on the 4.5 software.

It isn't going to get much better any time very soon. The problem is that there are no competitors to ease the pressure. Usually what happens in an explosive growth market is that competitors come out of the woodwork and help with the demand. But in this case I literally see no one out there that is going to come out with anything like a Model S. So Tesla can either pull back on production, which will create longer wait times for cars (and also reduce overall sales as people walk away), or they can do their best to keep up. Yeah, of course, they need better management, but there is a limit to how good any company can be run during a hypergrowth stage. Read any business book about the early days of Apple, Amazon, Netscape, etc. They all had management problems up the wazoo until growth slowed enough for people to catch their breath.

I just got my car back from service - they did a great job, but as it was a multiday job (drive inverter replacement), they should have been keeping me informed on a daily basis what was going on. They missed a few days when they should have called. I have my car back now, but no invoice/receipt of what work they did - it was just verbally communicated. I think I still owe them some money for some tires, but they haven't collected that either. I just deal with it with an air of amusement. In the end, the car is fixed and that's what matters, all else, they'll get to it when they can.

So, I'd recommended warning others your send Tesla's way. Be prepared for funky experiences, but rest assured Tesla will make it right in the end. It just may take longer than expected.

From reports, 5.0 does appear to be buggy. 4.5 is quite stable. That's probably why it hasn't been rolled out yet, except to new cars that have parking sensors. More "management" issues, really...

I'll be honest - my first thought was this is some kind of a short or somebody hearing something third-hand, etc. But after reading it and not looking at the author's name I saw a couple posts down that it was lolachampcar. I respect the heck out of this fellow and his posts and advice were absolutely not taken with a grain of salt from me when I read them.

All I can say is that I took delivery last week and my car was flawless, had 5.0 on it, no GPS issue, doors open everytime I walk up to them, all systems perfect. We had a 10am appointment, got there at 9:50am and were gone by 10:40am.

I am sorry all experiences can't be that way and hope your friends enjoy the car in the future.

Really disappointing, hope it's an isolated problem with that SC :(

Heck, we need an "SC" thread now. What is SC related to Tesla?
SC = SuperCharger
SC = Service Center
SC = Solar City

Usually easy to tell by context, but...
:-)

+1 Thomas N.

Took delivery 2wks ago. Minor issues fixed by Ranger Service within one week. No GPS issues, paint flawless, ride fantastic. I have 5.0 (and don't have sensors) and have had no tech issues. Already 1,000 mi on the car and still have the grin.

+1 NYKTA: I too was thinking the EXACT thing!

Have the two talked to each other? Is this something where they both had the same employee handle their delivery at the SC, and that one person is not very good? Or something more systemic?

Where was the Service Center of concern? :)

Tesla absolutely does have issues with initial quality. If you purchase an Aston Martin or a Bentley (not sure which), isn't there a plaque attached to each vehicle containing the name of the person who was responsible for the final vehicle QC inspection? I remember seeing that posted somewhere.

Clearly Tesla has no consistent final QC on the car. A vehicle with misaligned panels and trim should never have left Fremont. Who is the person in Fremont signing off on these cars? That is a middle management issue. In my opinion, Elon needs to be more hands-on at Tesla. The larger question here is how many of these problems are being communicated to Elon himself? He relies on his VPs to tell him what's going on. Those VPs rely on their middle managers to tell them what's going on. Somewhere, someone is not communicating issues up the management chain, perhaps for fear of their own jobs?

I'm just speculating, but given the OP's reputation and admiration for this vehicle, I think it took a lot for him to post this thread. I encourage anyone emailing Tesla management to also copy Elon on those emails. It certainly can't hurt.

I've taken delivery of three MS' through the Dania Service Center and my experience has gotten progressively worse but none that compare to that which my two friends just experienced. The two most recent for me were simply inexperienced people wandering through the process (of closing on a $100K transaction). I tended to know more about the car and the process then the people I was dealing with so I just led the delivery process.

The two friends in question do not know each other and have not spoken with each other. I'm not sure I really want to introduce them at this point :)

My real fear here is that Tesla were working their butts off to get things right and all while they were going from zero to some forward momentum. Those are the hardest times and they did an awesome job. Things should be getting easier. The growth has slowed tremendously and there has been time for everyone involved to get their footing and yet quality and delivery experience has deteriorated (thus my alarm). The trend is not good.

I just do not want to watch Tesla loose sight of the ball and do long term damage to MY company.

As a fairly long time reader to these forums, I've been getting the feeling that the push for higher output - as roughly indicated by the VIN tracking thread - is leading to more quality problems. Looking forward to how many cars have to delivered in the EU this year, I'm getting worried. Of course this is an empirical observation based on anecdotal evidence, but still, there seems to be a trend.

That Amped should have suffered the problems that he's reported is kinda statistically scary. I know it's dubious thinking, but one would think that if the (vast) majority of deliveries were flawless then someone like Amped, who's been an easy to track sample in the last months, would have had a flawless experience. I got VERY worried when it was suggested to him that his car could be sent back to the factory. How would that work for me, here in the NL?

Of course, one can argue the other way - maybe the forum is just getting more popular and the increased rate of deliveries means that although the bug report flow is increasing absolutely, but could even be decreasing relatively. I wish I knew, as I find that I'm becoming increasingly pensive about what kind of experience I'm going to have.

Someone remarked that 15 deliveries in a day was a US record. I understand that Tilburg did 38 on Friday and 22 today. They worked through the weekend as well. They have no loaners. What will the experience be like here if there are problems to be resolved?

Worrying.

@Lola,

Why do you think that the growth has slowed? From VIN assignments, I'd guess that growth has accelerated.

That seems to be the source of the growing pains.

I tell everyone I refer that it is brand new technology, from a brand new company, selling a brand new car with a brand new network of service. Get it, everything won't be perfect for several years at best.

Then I tell them I absolutely love the car and don't mind dealing with the issues everyone should expect from start up technology and a start up company.

I would hope they can grow into a service system worthy of what the car technology has accomplished.

I guess I don't lose much sleep over the start up issues. When I ordered my car there was no service of any kind in my area. I assumed I would have to load it on a car hauler trailer and take it to Southern California if it needed anything. Since my expectations were so low I have had nothing but happiness with the service.

My comment was based on early production going from zero to 400 per week versus the most recent six months going from 400 to 600 per week.

I would not worry in Europe. Tesla knows they will get fried if early deliveries have problems so they will likely get it right for you. They already have a good rep and press in the US which is why they can get away with this short term here.

I think Lolachamp has a good point. By and large the quality of the cars is excellent, but my delivery experience was terrible. Given that I don't live close to a service center, my Model S was delivered to my home, but my "delivery specialist" couldn't seem to get his act together when it came to simple things like letting me know when the car would arrive. I'm a fairly busy surgeon and it's not easy to find blocks of spare time to deal with something like this.

In my survey from Tesla, I pointed out that if the company aspires to produce the best cars on the planet, they need to raise their game in the customer service department. It's one thing to have teething pains when starting a new company, but for customers paying $100K they deserve better.

@lola
With your experience, I imagine you've keyed in on the go-to people at your SC. Could you make a call and give some constructive criticism and maybe get some backstory on why things went awry with your friends?

It seems that Elon has taken his eye off the ball and is very wrapped up in space x , all his recent tweets indicate this, not good on many fronts, company should be able to function without him,

Bighorn,
I've gotten some feedback to the SE Regional sales guy and will send another acquaintance (who I found to be very switched on) a note as well.

My post was primarily intended to see if this was an systemic issue as it sure feels like Tesla is slipping a bit.

I was at the San Rafael a few days ago for a minor issue. This has a 1-man sales office with only 1 demo vehicle. It does have a rep from Fremont doing deliveries. I witnessed 2 deliveries--smooth and professional as far as I could tell. I was chatting with both new owners. But it is clear that many of us committed and engaged owners/advocates are hearing and seeing too many problems. Lola--you know that TM does read the forums, and hopefully will get on top of it.

@lola
Out in the boonies, we don't even get a DS, just a transport driver. I felt well-versed in the car from my obsessive online research, so it was not a big deal. The next phase of adopters are going to need more hand holding. It will be a challenge to find enough talent to fill these entry level jobs.

I heard that this is quarter end and they are really pushing to get delivery numbers. Same expected to happen in late December.

In my case, one charger not working properly at delivery (replaced) and TPMS has some internal error and needs to go back to the Service Center. My guess is both should have been found and fixed in Fremont.

Just my opinion, but it does not sound like my experience is all that unusual recently. Wonderful car, no matter what.

@lola

Were it anyone else, I'd take this as a emotional rant (the kind that is generally followed by the "I love my Tesla.." post, after everyone calms down). Part of the challenge with Tesla is that they've set the bar so high (necessarily). For all of their foibles, the experience is still better than any car I've owned in the category (that is, the grey area between mid-high premium cars and true high-end premium cars). I've had colleagues go through hell trying to get fixes on other high-end premium cars, including one who filed a lemon law claim against Porsche and one who's spanking new Ferrari bricked (and was loaded on flatbed in front of a crowd of oglers in South Santa Monica). The difference with Tesla is that we're all so vested in it and we end up standing as guarantors of our friends and colleagues decisions. When you answer the "how do you like your...? question for Tesla you end up putting much more on the line. I was racked with guilt for a full week while one of my colleagues sorted out her Tesla issues (which ultimately turned out to be operator errors). I hear you. It's tough.

These two most recent converts always end the conversation with "but the car is fantastic" which is in line with what the rest of us experience.

I think they hit the perfect storm of declining competence on the front line from being poached for jobs further up the wrung and a dip in quality to make Q3 numbers. My July and August deliveries had but one very small issue (AC compressor to frame rattle) so the quality issues seem limited to end of quarter.

The above being said, any trend consisting of declining store competence and any willingness to sacrifice quality for any reason are causes for concern for me.

Lastly, the idea that Elon can not attend to his other company without a significant reduction in performance at Tesla is equally concerning. "While the cats away" mentality should end at low to middle management. Top management should be self sufficient and self motivated. I realize these are ideals but then Elon is smart enough to know it has to function on its own if only for small periods of time if he is ever to catch his breath.

@Bighorn; +1 No DS; just a transport driver. But....

It was my choice. I could have taken delivery at the nearest (100 miles distant) showroom. I opted for local delivery. One suggestion to others in such a situation: don't have the car delivered directly to your home. Choose a suitable spot five miles or so away (or whatever your preference). Drive the new car home. At least then if anything critical appears immediately, you can refuse delivery.

@lola

Did you send your rant to GeorgeB?

That will have much more influence than posting here in the forums. I've found that these forums are not followed very closely by Tesla. It helps if you point them toward specific threads about specific issues that may be cropping up.

I do think lola has a valid point. We early adopters accepted cars without half the options we had ordered and allowed them to be added later as we were so happy just to own the car. Now people who walk in to buy a car won't accept stuff like this. I'm sure we all know people who have walked out of a dealership because a certain color or option was not available, how can you expect people to accept unfinished cars?

As many have said the fact that lolachampcar started this thread adds much more weight than your average poster. Not only because he's so knowledgeable about cars in general but also because he's on his third MS.

I've had my car for three months and like many have had many requests for rides, tours and just chat. If I'm talking to someone whom I know to be interested in making a purchase in the near future I tell them to sign onto the forum and read about many of the issues new owners have had.

Yes, they are responsive to problems. Yes, they really care. Yes, the car is amazing to drive, but the company isn't perfect and won't be soon. I tell them that I have another appointment in three weeks to bring my car in for the 3rd time for wind noise and second time for a misaligned driver's door.

If they still want the grin then at least they're going in with their eyes open to the possibility that they might have some aggravation in the beginning. But they'll be driving the best sedan ever built. How do I know that? Lolachampcar owns three and that's good enough for me.


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