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More Hassle about plates and Title

I have been waiting for weeks now to get my plates for my Model S. My temp tags expire tomorrow so I called Tesla and they informed me that they will FEDx my plates very soon. Most people here probably know for the most part I am a Tesla Fan Boy. This is the e-mail I just got this evening from my 'Ownership Experience Advocate'
"I am very sorry, but I just gave you some incorrect information. We have recently changed our procedure for registration in MO and will be asking client to self register. How this will work is, we will send you a check for the tax/fees you paid as well as all of the information needed for you to register your Model S. Once you receive this from us, you will be able to make a trip to the DMV and receive your plates the same day."

What has me extremely pissed is I will have no legal plates after the temp tags expire and I will now have to skip a day of work (working M-S) and go get them or drive around without a temp tag. For some reason they have this illusion that I live in the middle of no where and the DMV has people standing around board just waiting for me to show up. In reality I will have to take a number just like everyone else and sit behind 50 to 100 other people for hours.
I will also have to do this while fronting Tesla the money they owe me back. They have had weeks to inform me of this and now I have to run around at the last minute and do their work.

I have not made this post public but I am thinking about making it extremely public everywhere that people should not allow Tesla to take their sales tax money, at least not in Missouri.

The real downside is at work I am running 5 other people and we have two weeks left to complete 5 weeks of work which means I will be working solid long hours for the next two weeks. The previous two weeks however were slow and things had been on hold waiting on answers. If they had just made this decision two weeks ago this would not have been such a problem.
This couldn't have come at a better time (sarcasm)

Tesla is really good at taking your order and building one of the most awesome cars on the planet.
Tesla still sucks BIG TIME at doing anything that a dealer normal does.
I can honestly say at this stage they have failed with their 'new way of buying a car'. I want a dealership. I will not be buying another car from Tesla if they keep their current model. I am also going to be recommending this to others. I understand the problems with a dealer franchise selling gas cars right next to electric but Tesla has had months to fix these problems in the delivery department and it seems ALL the issues are still there and it is only getting worse.

Very sorry to hear this, really stinks...i hope you get it all worked out, I had a similar experience, but related to state inspection.

The inspection part is probably going to be my next big problem. There is no safety inspection sticker in my car. I don't know if it will be required.

Mine came without a required by law state inspection (thus making my registration null and void), fortunately i was able to find a local place to perform the inspection within a couple hours of receiving the car...fortunately, the car makes up for my delivery experience. I have a great deal of sympathy for you...others on these forums unfortunately may less so...hope you get it worked out.

Sudre I did not need an inspection.

Don't you have any private 3rd party Auto Title Service companies in MO? If you do, maybe they can assist you in doing it more expeditiously.

cool thanks Liz.

Sounds great Alex. Tesla should give them a call and get my plates to me.

Sorry to hear about your problem Sudre. TM is approaching serious legal exposure with all of the titling and registration issues. I can't believe that any new car seller would expect a buyer to take care of dealing with registration and tags. They may not have a choice after deciding not to be a real dealer, or use a dealer license in your state, but if so, it is proof that the non-dealer model is dysfunctional at best, and actionable at worst.

I still have my day in court coming up due to their delivery and licensing process, and am willing to bet that no other new car sales organization operating in the US has put a single customer in the position that Tesla has created for lots of customers over the past few months. They need to triage titling and registration nationwide ASAP. It is a shame that this issue colors an otherwise great vehicle.

For those of you who say these issues are isolated exceptions, and the fault of state rules rather than TM incompetence, get a clue. There isn't any excuse for this to happen. Not "new company" syndrome or "only humans" or "new paradigm sales process." TM has been selling new cars or four years. It claims to provide a better sales and delivery experience than any other model. That claim is clearly incorrect, and not just in exceptional cases.

You might post in the Missouri thread to share with your neighbors.

That really seriously blows chunks. I am sorry this is such a hassle for people in certain states. :/

You would really think that considering they did sell cars before the Model S they would have a checklist for each state that they would run through for each purchaser listing things Tesla needs to do, customer needs to do, in what order and at what points in the purchase process. This should be CLEARLY communicated to each purchase PRIOR to signing the MVPA.

That's how I would do it if I were Tesla and I was worried about customer care.

I am wondering if this has to do with local laws regarding manufacturers and dealers and how in some states (perhaps MO?), Tesla is not allowed to act like a dealer.

I don't know if MO has such laws, but the laws are designed to protect the dealership retail model, and to make it painful for you as a consumer to try to purchase and use a car outside of the dealership retail model.

I don't put this on Tesla... I put it on the states for having a horribly messed-up mix-match of registration processes. I watched as a friend who purchased in Missouri went through hoop after hoop just trying to figure out where her registration was.

Regulation after regulation after regulation just makes it impossible for Tesla to keep up in all states. You might try voting for those who would simplify, rather than complicate.

It is a combo of state registration process differences and Tesla not having knowledgable delivery specialists ready to prep customers for their state's process and Tesla deciding that they can't act like a dealer in each state WAY too late in the game.

In TX and had similar but diff experience. Luckily I have a local mechanic who gave me enough of the breadcrumbs to get it done myself before it was a serious issue.

Sorry to hear about your poor delivery experience sudre. Even though I did not enjoy doing inspection, reg and title myself, I found it way more fun than dealing with car salesmen and their endless BS.


Do you really think anyone elected would fix the mess? It's those who get elected, under the guise of "helping" who create the problem. It doesn't matter the party, it's the career. They may have honorable intentions when they first run, but once they get a taste of the privilege and the power, they are addicted and will do anything to keep hold of what they have. Some get greedy and want even more. Have any of them done anything to improve the country?

American politicians from before the revolution have always served business and only give lip service to the concerns of the people. It's the lip service that wins the elections but it's the businesses that own those who take office.

Dealers are existing businesses and the stranglehold they have on some legislators make it very difficult for any new business that threatens the status quo. There are ways around them, but Tesla hasn't invested enough in that area and that is why there are these problems.

Maybe the company will realize they need to study the state regulations where there are problems and possibly do a bypass that will inflict some sort of pain on those states by registering the cars in friendlier tax-free states and then have the owners register in the home state. It certainly wouldn't be as simple as I stated it and absolutely not without some fights. I realize that if this was not carefully planned it could end up costing more, but that is why it calls for a thorough analysis of the problems and what would work.

No customer should have to be put in this position, but sometimes it takes an effort by those who care to bring out positive change. It is not the regulations themselves that are the problem, it is the politicians and special interests that create these regulations. New politicians to replace the old ones will just produce new regulations to replace the existing ones.

A really viable electric vehicle has more enemies than just other car makers. Tesla exists. We need to make sure it doesn't suffer the fate of the Tucker.

The easiest way for Tesla and its clients might be to have the customer take care of registration. Here in AZ it is actually the only way we can get a out-of-state-car registered.

Here is what happened when I got the car:

5 days before delivery of may car I received the temp. CA registration.

1 day after delivery of the car I received the necessary papers to register the car

I took those papers and went to the DMV and 45 minutes later I had my title, registration and permanent plates.

While it inconveniences the Model S owner it made the whole process very easy and quick.

PS: we do not need safety inspection for new vehicles.

In MO it is actually easier for the buyer to handle the registration titling than the seller/dealer. I kearned this when I registered my S. I actually suggested to Tesla that hey let MO buyers handle their wn reegistration and titling based on my experience and a suggestion from the nice lady at the licensing office who helped me. I'm afraid Sudre nay have gotten got in the middle if their process change. No excuse but possibly the cause of his issue and we all know Tesla is still struggling with communication problems.

What I can tell you is once Sudre has the check the process at the Licensing Office should be pretty smooth (not counting any wait in line). Though I was asked if it was a car I was registering. They are not familiar with the S as you would expect.

He will need
- last 2 years of property tax paid reciepts (though they may be able to look those up) or a waiver.
- proof of insurance on the S
- drivers license
- sales paperwork
- EV fuel sticker $75 fee (I dont think Tesla collects this)

When we got our car our credit union volunteered to do the title work since they were lienholders. Tesla took care of it anyway.

When our temp tags were close to running out we called Tesla and they volunteered to print a new temp registration. It turns out that the plates arrived on the day before expiration. We take late plates in stride here because they are usually slow in our state anyway. The police even know that it happens and let it slide for a while

We don't have any inspection requirements in our state for new cars. I guess our state has pretty easy titling and registration requirements.

You guys really think that the states INTENTIONALLY made a political decision to defend local car dealers in their states? Please. But even if that were true, think about what you are saying. It is the JOB of politicians to assist and defend job creation at the local level. But if you know anything about the history of auto licensing and dealer regulation, you know that local rules are just as much a pain for the dealers as anyone. Regulations in this area are definitely not about defending the existing dealer model, and to say so is to be a conspiracy theorist (unless you can cite specific evidence).

Just because the EFFECT of the rules is to make life harder for the TM business model does mean that was the INTENT of the rules.

The very idea that new car consumers should be hung out to do their own license and registration processing is ludicrous, and will result in fewer TM sales. I have 27 active vehicle registrations in several states, so am comfortable dealing with the DMV, MVA, DOT, etc., but that is not a consumer friendly model. Handing the buyer a bunch of paperwork to do-it-yourself is the antithesis of the new consumer-friendly sales paradigm that Tesla touts, and this must be fixed.

How would you react if next time you buy or sell a property, the lawyer or title agent hands you all the paperwork and says, "take this stack to the county tax office, this stack and these checks to the clerk of the court for recording, and this paperwork to the utilities department?" You would have a blank look for a moment and then ask for your money back. Don't forget that TM also charges a hefty fee or all of this. It is incumbent on them to solve the problem, not offload it to the buyer. It makes TM look and feel like an unprofessional fly-by-night garage operator.

+1 P_Dave - I'm >30 days without tags in MD and owner experience told me that I would have plates by the end of Feb. Follow-up message has not been answered yet.

@PD - when I bought a new LEAF in Georgia, I had to go apply for a title and tag myself. The only difference with the Tesla was I also had to pay sales tax myself, and I didn't get a temporary tag from the "dealer" but instead had to get it when I applied for the tag. Until then, I was driving with the temporary CA paper stuck in the window.

Regarding Tesla's position, the laws prevent a manufacturer from owning dealerships in various states. Other laws say dealerships are the only ones who can issue temporary tags. How is Tesla supposed to fix this other than the way they have? The only alternative would be to build a franchise network, and the money to fund those franchises (real-estate, people, profits) comes from somewhere -- ultimately from the buyer. Tesla is just now getting to where they make money selling cars -- would you have preferred they wait months (while bleeding money) to build a franchise network and then charge more for the car to cover it?

Realistically I will get over this in the next week once I get my plates. The people that are not earlier adopters won't. They are out there hearing the failures from us, even when we try to keep things rosey. It's hard to hide the fact Tesla can't get their act together when I will be driving to work with a car that has expired tags or another car tomorrow.

I got a call from GB's office today since I sent him an email (my first) expressing my disappointment. I am glad they called and let me blow off a little steam. I don't want money or special attention. I just wanted my order to ownership to be smooth. We all do. Supposedly Tesla is concentrating extremely hard on resolving these issues for everyone as we speak. What Pungoteague_Dave is going though sounds outrageous and I hope things work out for him.

Jat, you nailed it.

It is sad that there are a few states that are making it difficult for Tesla. Hard to understand that the people in those states cannot blame there politicians and government rule makers.

jat, just because you also had to get your title and tags on a car in Georgia does not make it the correct way to do business.

To answer your specific question - Yes, some states require you to be a dealer to direct-issue final plates. And yes, most states do not allow a car manufacturer to own a dealer, for good historical reasons (I have no interest in defending auto dealers). Several auto manufacturers intentionally opened up dealerships in direct competition with the franchised dealerships, and used their pricing advantage to undercut the franchisee's sales, intentionally driving them out of business. So these laws were created. I have no opnion about whether they remain valid. However, the system was not set up to thwart a start-up like Tesla.

Now Tesla comes along and for a host of reasons, mostly having to do with THEIR financial margins, decides to go back to the 1920's-era catalog-order model, updated with the internet, and pretends it is a new, revolutionary way to do business. It isn't new or ground-reaking. It is just different from how every other car manufacturer selling in the U.S. gets its vehicles to consumers, within a regulatory environment that is fairly well greased for all three parties to the transaction (supplier, consumer, and government). It is incumbent on Tesla to figure out how to make that process at least as efficient as the dealer model for THEIR customer. Their intent was to make it better than teh competition. But it turns out that it isn', so they have a problem and need to fix it. You imply that it is not solvable and that they have no choice. Not true.

Anyone, dealer or not, can set up a title and registration processing business, in nearly any state, and this is certainly true in the states where I do business, MD, DC & VA. So Tesla could get off its high horse in CA, and either set up local processing (probably not enough volume to justify this), or HIRE one of the local processors/tag expediters in each state where it is delivering cars. It isn't hard.

Most states also do not issue liquor licenses to non-residents. So if you are Whole Food or Wegman's coming into a new market and expect to sell liquor, at least in MD, you have to hire a local agent to hold that license. Again, it' not hard, but requires local knowlege and representation. Tesla is trying to do on a national basis that which is fundamentally a local business due to the constitutional delegation of regulatory oversight. They have to act local for this to work. It can be done, but they need to get on with it and lose the attitude - especially the allegation that states are out to thwart or hold them down. It's just not true.

Mel, the states are not making it difficult for Tesla. Tesla is not acting competently within well-established state rules. Nothing new was created to deal with Tesla. When you drive across state lines, you either know the rules specific to that state (eg right turn on red, maximum speed limit on unmarked rural roads, etc.) If you don't, you bear the consequences. No need to think conspiracy here. The states are all prefectly happy to register the Tesla Models S and issue titles and tags. No exceptions.

Put anther way, it was fully within Tesla's power to deliver my car WITH a VA temp tag and to ensure that I had a permanent VA tag within a week. And it would not have been hard for them ecxcept for their insistence that all paperwork processing has to happen in CA. Instead it took them over a month, during which time I was pulled over seven times, ticketed once (for inspection violation), and have a date in court coming up. THAT is on Tesla and is inexcusable.

P.D., I understand where you are coming from and think /hope that Tesla will get up to speed. It just would be nice if some of these states would try to help an American company due business in their states. I am in Florida which is making it much easier for Tesla than the Commonwealth's

@PD - you mean other states let you get your real tag directly from the dealer when you buy the car? I have never lived anywhere that was the case -- every one of the 4 cars I have bought new and the handful used I had to go transfer the title and register for the tag myself.

Jat, I have never heard of consumers doing their own tag work on new vehicle sales, but am sure you are correct that some states are still in the stone age. Seems pretty backward. I know for a fact that most states in the northeast and midatlantic have procedures for delers to issue final plates, and all states have sne sort of temporary registration program for dearlers to roll cars off the lot with cardboard or paper. In this region, car dealers can issue real tags and are online with the DMV/MVA. What's wrong with that? How does that intentionally disadvantage TM? It seems like a MORE consumer-friendly, progressive way to do it. In these states, there are three ways to get tags and registrations. One, the dealer can do it. Two, a tag service can do it. Third, a consumer can do it, but only for transfers. It is really quite easy and simple. TM has all the tools it needs to get it right, but has to either learn the procedures and execute, or pay someone who knows how.

Here in Washington State, my plates came from Tesla by FedEx three weeks after delivery of car.

Only issue is they left off the screws to attach the rear plates, and the front plate holder has some funny six-star screws... so I will stop by service center and have them install the plates.

Two points. First, in Illinois things are a little more relaxed. In fact, if you are trading in a car, all you need to do is take the plates off the car you are selling and put them on the car you are buying. For new plates, Tesla gives you a temporary plate and new ones come in the mail.

Second, I think the independent dealer model sucks. Not only are you in the dark about how much you are being taken for by the dealer, but why on earth would anyone want to buy a car from a third party rather than the manufacturer? It just adds cost to the deal. Plus, dealing with these guys has to be the worst experience in the world. It's always the same. Have to talk to my manager, this is the best I can do. Also, I have never gotten the car that I want from a dealer. It's always, we have one of these in stock, but you have to get the power floor mats and that's a little more. Or I don't have one here but I can get all the features you want but not the color you want from Peoria. The model S is the first car I've bought that I was able to get all the things I wanted, none of the things I didn't and didn't have to spend an hour trying to get my car keys back. Just because the system has been in place for 80 years doesn't mean it's a good system.

Sorry for the rant, but this seems to be a hot button for a lot of people.

I agree that the dealer model isn't great, just haven't seen anything better yet. TM hasn't figured it out, but may. Do we complain about grocery stores or other retailers who are also middlemen? Dealers can be a PITA, but my experiences with BMW, MB, Lexus, and even Toyota have been good, always. Less so VW, Ford, GM. Dealers, in an ideal world (probably best represented in the Lexus model), make life better and more efficient for the manufacturer, and give a positive consumer experience.

The dealer service model has improved dramatically due to competition since the 1960's, and with the advent of CarMax, more informed consumers, the internet, and fixed pricing, most of the objectionable sale tactics are gone, or used only on the uneducated. No excuses, just think there are legitimate reasons it evolved the way it did. CarMax is the ultimate independent dealer on a mega-scale, treat everyone the same and with full transparency, and consumers seem to like it. I have never bought a car there, but have sold them several, and always came away smiling.


While I agree with you that the Tesla process could be better - it is clearly evolving and the experience in Texas is much better now than the fiasco I went through in January. Your comments suggest that Tesla should have a perfect model although they are just starting out and are in active legal negotiations with dozens of states over this approach. You also suggest that the idea that the state governments "INTENTIONALLY made a political decision to defend local car dealers" is conspiracy. Well - see this email I received from my state senator:

"Senator Carona asked me to get back with you regarding the sale of Tesla vehicles with or without dealerships in Texas. He has looked at several different ways to approach the problem but so far has not been able to come up with one that would enable Internet sales of Tesla vehicles without changing the regulatory model for other auto manufacturers, which would mobilize the new car dealers in opposition and make the bill unpassable this session. He is interested in keeping tabs on the issue, so if you would keep me posted as new information becomes available that would be much appreciated.
Best wishes,

Steven Polunsky, Director
Senate Committee on Business and Commerce
Senator John Carona, Chair"

It is absolutely a political decision not to uset a powerful lobby for the sake of a novel business model and startup company.

I hope you will give Tesla a bit more slack in understanding what they are up against.

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