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Tesla Store Review -- St. Louis

I was recently in St. Louis for business. Living in Kansas City, I was excited to be in a city with a Tesla store I could visit. I called ahead to verify their hours and location the day before. The representative I talked to wanted to schedule a test drive, but they close at 6pm, I couldn't be there before 4:30pm, and they already had something scheduled for 5pm. I said I could try to make it sooner, but couldn't guarantee being there before 4:30pm and that I would be happy just to look around at what they have without a test drive if I couldn't make it there sooner.

The next day when I visited the Tesla store, I suddenly understood why they were trying to schedule a test drive. I understood why they were negative towards walk ins. Simply put, it's not a store. They may call them stores. They may have pictures online of places that look like stores. But what it really is, at least in St. Louis -- it's a service center with an extra Model S they can use for test drives. The experience was highly underwhelming. There was no store entrance, only a service entrance. Inside was a small room with a wooden desk. Behind that room was the service area. That's it. Oh, and they had some calendars.

The main sales person was already busy with some other guest. They briefly let me and my business associate look at the outside of someone's car that was in for service. After that, the only thing left to do was take a calendar and leave.

Walking out, I had to wonder: is this the way all Tesla stores are? It certainly didn't feel like a store. It felt more like a wooden desk in a small room. Did the sales associates know when they hired on that they would have no show room, no gear, no flash, and just a single Model S that sits back in the service area for scheduled test drives? As a customer, I certainly didn't. The cars were beautiful, but it definitely felt like a shoestring operation. And maybe it is. Tesla is not as big a company as it sometimes feels with all the press it gets. What they have is fine, but why call it a store? Why didn't the representative explain it to me when I called? It seems misleading and sets one up for disappointment. A store is something you can visit, look around, see stuff, and maybe buy stuff. All I got was a look at a wooden desk, a calendar, and a distant look at someone else's car. I could have done that without visiting a Tesla store.

In the end, I don't see anything wrong with what they are actually doing. It's the expectation that's the problem. People need to know what if you want to visit Tesla St. Louis -- and this might apply to all Tesla stores -- you absolutely need to have a scheduled test drive. Otherwise, you might just be making a special out of the way long distance trip for the sake of a complimentary calendar.

It varies. What you saw was the reception of a service center. Until they get a full store location, it has to serve. Vancouver BC has a slightly more elaborate reception area, but not much. A high-profile location (Robson Street) has been selected for the future store opening. E.g. When you walk into an actual store, you will be delighted.

Patience, grasshopper.

The store in Portland was really nice. There was a platform of a model s, two cars with completely different set ups and palettes of available materials and colours. The store and staff were professional. As noted above, there isn't much to see at service centres. What you described is what I saw in the service centre we have in Vancouver too. Stores are much more esthetically pleasing!

another member wrote a post that it was not a store. they said not to go out of your way.

Check out the web site MAEAA.org and come to one of our meetings. We have two members with Teslas who would be glad to give you a ride and show off their cars.

@rswerts
A big thanks for the heads up on MAEAA.org. The meeting location is only about a 20 minute drive from my house. I am really busy with work and family, but I will definitely find a way to carve out some time for this.

I'm still pissed about my store visit though. I'd let it go if I had just walked in unannounced, but I did call ahead. They should have explained their dubious situation to me.

My wife and I did a Saturday morning "walk in" to the downtown Seattle Tesla Store. It wasn't a very flashy setting from the outside. However, once inside I was pleasantly surprised to find a very detailed array of displays, and, more importantly, two very informed young representatives that were eager to answer our questions. The White Model S on the floor was fully loaded and in pristine condition. We were welcome to examine in detail and get in and out of it to our hearts content. This was our first up close and personal look at a Tesla. I have seen them on the road and studied them online, but there is nothing quite like the hands on experience. All in all, I'd give Tesla an A- (the slight downgrade for the actual location). The staff gets an A for their manner and expertise. They appear to enjoy their job very much and were clearly enthusiastic about the product they are selling.

The San Diego store definitely lives up to the name. The associates were all eager to answer any questions I had about Model S and Tesla as a company. There was a full Model S on display for store visitors to get inside, explore the infotainment screen, and ask associates about the features, options, and benefits of owning a Model S.

Towards the back of the store there is an interactive kiosk similar to what you can find on teslamotors.com that answers questions about range, charging, options, and setting up your home/garage for owning a Model S. If the store wasn't so far out of the way for me, I would be there much more often. The associates were very friendly and informative, creating a no-pressure environment and lots of enthusiasm about Tesla. The only thing they did mention regarding sales was the ability to set up a reservation and deposit if I wanted to.

Skotty, I feel your pain in the problem and the types of responses you're getting. I live in a place that is over 400 miles from a Tesla store, so I would be freaking pissed if I had made plans to visit one when I was in one of those cities, and it was a service station with a false label like that. Not to be too mean about this, but basic problem is that it's not really a store, even though it's marked by Tesla as one, and the responses are not being helpful.

"Patience, grasshopper." Condescending and not addressing that Tesla just needs to mark that place as a service center, rather than a store. It's not a matter of patience.

"The Portland/Seattle/San Diego stores were great!" Uh yeah, good for you, but that does nothing for the problem with the St. Louis location.

Good advice with the MAEAA thing, though. Thanks, rswerts.

Hey you all. I think I may have found a picture of the St. Louis Tesla store. Check it out! Okay, not really, but this looks almost just like it!

Two thumbs up! Awesome store!

Can you tell I'm still pissed? How long has the St. Louis location been listed as a store? Seems like a long time. Here is what the Tesla website says about the Tesla St. Louis store:

"Visit Tesla St. Louis to learn more about Tesla ownership in Missouri. Call and schedule a test drive appointment of the award winning Model S!"

Note the first sentence. Sounds like you can just walk in and have something to do, yes? Instead, you walk in and find out about how the are not fond of "dealing" with walk-ins. No, really? Maybe it's because there is nothing to show them accept maybe some calendars; and they are running out of calendars.

How easy would it be for Tesla to fix this? How about just change the text on the Tesla St. Louis page to say something about how it's not a full store yet and to please schedule a test drive if you will be coming in? That would have been enough. But no. I read the page. I call ahead. I drive all the way across the state to visit. And what? Thanks for the calendar, I guess.

I'd also like to make it clear that I'm much more pissed at Tesla corporate than the sales staff in St. Louis. Yes, the person I called should have explained it to me the day before. Yes, the person that showed me around shouldn't have shared the bit about how they don't like having to deal with walk-ins. But I almost can't blame them. Tesla put them into a crappy situation and then expects everyone to pretend it's a real store. For months and months and months. In fact, I'm going to hit the way back web archives and see if I can figure out how long the St. Louis location has been listed as a store.

For the record, looks like St. Louis store was added to the site sometime between August 2013 and September 2013. Not as far back as I thought, but still a good 6 months.

It's all you deserve, since you're so sour and demanding! >:(
}8-p

How exactly am I demanding? I made one suggestion -- and a simple one at that. I am quite sour. But I think I'm entitled to be. If I can't be sour after a 600 mile round trip for nothing after checking the website and even calling ahead, what can I be sour for?

If Tesla is truly a good company, they will own up to it and do something about it. If they want to be lazy, they can just change the wording on their website or remove St. Louis from the list of stores. But I guess even that is too demanding, huh Brian?

Next time you make a 600 mile trip somewhere after calling ahead first and they screw you over when you get there, just make sure you realize you are just being sour and demanding and you deserved it.

You don't take teasing well, do you Scotty-poo? Is ums upset? Awww...

The STL "store" isn't in a great location - it is a little creepy. Don't really get what they are trying to do there.

Service Centers don't need upscale locales.

I'm going to keep pressing this issue until Tesla does something about it. Today I mailed Tesla a letter. Below is the body of that letter.
---------------
Dear Tesla:

A few weeks ago I visited the Tesla store in St. Louis. I would like to share this experience with you.

I have always been eager to take a close look at a Tesla Model S. I am not yet ready to buy, but it was my hope to get an up close look, touch one, sit in one, and maybe see and purchase some Tesla gear. I had not visited a Tesla store before because I live in Kansas City with no nearby Tesla stores. When I had an optional opportunity to travel to St. Louis for business, I decided to make the trip primarily so I could visit the Tesla store there. I was excited by the opportunity.

In advance, I visited the Tesla web page for the Tesla St. Louis store. There was not much information there, but enough to get me started. I then called the St. Louis store. No one answered but I did get a call back later. The person on the phone immediately wanted to sign me up for a test drive and asked what time I expected to be there. I said I would probably get there right at 4:30pm in the afternoon. The person on the phone said he already had a scheduled test drive at 5pm and asked if I could come in at 4pm. I said I could try, but my business obligations might prevent me from getting there before 4:30pm. I said I would be happy enough to just look around the store and look at whatever car or other materials they had on display. The conversation pretty much ended there.

They day of my trip, I was unfortunately unable to get there until 4:30pm. This was pretty much as I explained on the phone, however. The location was unremarkable. When I got there, someone greeted me and the business associate I was traveling with. They took us to an unlabeled door, but they couldn't get through it because it was locked. They then took us back to a service entrance we originally walked up to. They showed us around inside, but it was basically just a service center. One of the associates was already doing a test drive with someone else. There was one car in for service that they let us walk around. While very friendly, at one point the associate expressed to us how they don't like dealing with walk in customers. There was nothing much else to do. On the way out, we were given Tesla calendars, which were pretty much the only thing of any interest in the entrance area. And that was it.

This trip was a complete disappointment. It was a waste of my time to visit. Clearly, there is absolutely no reason to visit this location unless you have a scheduled test drive.

There are many different ways Tesla could have prevented me from wasting my time and money on a 500 mile round trip for a calendar.

1) Tesla could remove the St. Louis location from the list of stores. Because it's not a store. Tesla might think it's a store. It's not. Go there. Look at it. Not a store.

2) Tesla could list the St. Louis location as something other than a store. Why not have a separate list of test drive locations?

3) Tesla could explain on the Tesla St. Louis web page that it is primarily a service location and visitors should schedule a test drive before visiting. But this web page doesn’t make this clear.

4) The Tesla representative on the phone in St. Louis could have explained their situation to me. If they had, I would have either canceled my plans or adjusted them in order to ensure I could schedule a test drive.

5) Tesla could give the St. Louis location an extra Model S for display. Or maybe some posters or something. Anything. Something to look at. Stuff like you might see at a "store".

6) Tesla could have built an actual store in St. Louis. It's been listed as a store for over 6 months. If Tesla wants to have a store in St. Louis, how about actually building one?

If Tesla had succeeded on any one of those things, there would have been no problem. I did my due diligence before visiting by checking the web sites, calling ahead, and visiting an official store.

The Tesla St. Louis store needs help. After my visit, someone on the Tesla forums described the St. Louis store as "creepy". It's a small building in an out of the way area with almost nothing to identify it. The sales staff need to make it clear to callers what their situation is. I was shocked that Tesla has sales staff…at a store…that don't like dealing with walk in customers. Granted, I completely understand. What are they to do with walk in customers? But they should probably be instructed not to share that sentiment with customers. Tesla has put the sales staff there in a bad situation that is uncomfortable for both the sales staff and the customers. It is likely driving away some sales. A creepy visit to a back alley store with a locked front door and nothing to show anyone does not inspire confidence in the company. It also fuels the fire for dealers associations that wish to portray Tesla as unfit to properly serve it’s customers.

This was an odd and extremely disappointing experience given a company that rarely disappoints. Please review the 6 points I listed above and consider taking action.

+0.99

All valid points. But one error.

"serve its customers".
;p

You got a calendar?
I want a Tesla Calendar!

Today I got a call from a Tesla representative and we discussed my issues raised about the St. Louis store. To my surprise and satisfaction, I was informed that the Tesla team (be it Tesla corporate, the St. Louis staff, or a collaboration between the two) has already addressed the issue by outfitting the St. Louis location with another Model S for display. Whether or not my correspondence had anything to do with this, I don't know. But I was very happy to hear it. Now people who impulsively visit the St. Louis store will actually have something to experience! That is what was really needed. Great job. I think this is completely satisfactory until Tesla builds a more significant store in St. Louis.

They are also going a bit out of their way to ensure I get a test drive in Kansas City. There is an upcoming Kansas City test drive event next week and they are making sure that I am able to get a test drive. Very nice of them to do.

A very big Thank You to Tesla for addressing these concerns in a manner that represents the company well. And I will hereby also apologize for my snarkyness in some of what I previously wrote/posted.

Good job. Case closed. Go Tesla!

A Scot apologies? Somebody phone Guinness.

typo: apologizes apologies

Whoa, how meta: Brian corrects his own typo.

That's a very good resolution. Yeah, just having service customer cars there that you can't really get in try things out wasn't really serving a store function at all. At least having an actual store model lets people see how it all works and fits inside and out, with trying out the seating, ergonomics, controls, etc. Well done with the squeaky wheeling, Skotty!

For what it's worth, I visited the STL service center about the same time as the OP, March 1. I set up an appointment about a week in advance. We were able to look at the test-drive vehicle plus another 2 or 3 Model Ss which were in for servicing etc. Took a test drive and did all the fiddling we felt we needed to do. One vehicle had the rear seats so we go to see those. Had no issues whatsoever and felt we got great attention. I especially appreciated the non-salesy, no-hard-pitch approach.

Really, the car sells itself, all they need to do is let you experience it. Hunter, the lone rep, was very knowledgable, patient and took great care of us. I don't think the STL location claims to be a "store" yet, it's a service center exploring whether the market can support a full store. Hopefully the answer will be a yes. But even as-is, it had everything a potential buyer could need (with an appointment…a walk-in would indeed be disappointed in the likely event that the sales rep was already engaged). We appreciated the unpretentious, modern, Apple-esque atmosphere.

Glad to read that Tesla proactively reached out to the OP and his concerns were addressed.

'Nuf said. Our order was placed 2 days ago.


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