I am now eight months into my Tesla order and can say that my experience so far has left plenty of room for improvement. Here’s a rundown of my Tesla order experience so far and why it has fallen short of expectations.
Not Your Typical Dealership
Let’s state the obvious. Tesla is by no means your typical car dealership experience. Gone are the high-pressure sales tactics and the smarmy salespeople that push them. Instead, orders are all done online. Even if you go into a Tesla showroom, associates walk you through the same process as you would do on your personal computer or phone. There are few options and features to choose from meaning you can place your order in just a handful of clicks.
Prices are also fixed meaning there is no haggling or worrying that you are getting fleeced. Many, including yours truly, appreciate this.
The first vehicle I bought at a traditional car dealership came within a month of my first home purchase. Despite the huge price difference, I found the car dealership purchase much more stressful. So much so that my second vehicle purchase was through eBay for something I had not test-driven nor seen in person.
So that all said, Tesla’s order experience is not for everyone, but it is for me. Still, as I have come to find, their customer service, or lack thereof, concerns me.
Not Your Typical Tesla Order
Let’s back up to my initial deposit for my Tesla Model Y. It was December 2019. The world was treating the coronavirus like it was only China’s problem and I was looking ahead to a busy year of travel in 2020. Those were better times.
The Model Y was set to deliver Q4 of 2020. Given my early order, this meant I was going to be an early adopter. This aligned well with my plans of launching this site dedicated to the Model Y and EV road trips. My intention was to pick up the Model Y in eastern Canada and drive it some 5,000+ kilometres home to Vancouver BC, compiling a ton of content along the way.
This is not your typical Tesla order however, I didn’t think much of it. I have purchased other vehicles out of province and brought them home no problem. Also, Tesla charges you a delivery fee regardless of where your vehicle goes.
So, this all in mind, I clicked through my vehicle preferences, put in my credit card info, and Bam, vehicle ordered.
Through the process, I didn’t see any options for delivery details or trade-in. I went back to my account and took a look through my order to find no options there either. I had read several reports from early adopters of the Model 3 saying that these options only came available as your car is being built. Since I had months to go, I didn’t stress this and moved on to planning my 2020 travels for thislifeintrips.com.
Again, it was a better time.
Fast forward to February 2021. Reports of the Model Y being ahead of schedule were coming out. This is out of the norm for Tesla however the Model Y is its fourth kick at the can in large scale production. It’s also built off of the Model 3 and share many of the same parts, so not a huge surprise that they can produce it faster.
Still, this bumped up my delivery significantly and I had nothing sorted out for picking up my vehicle on the other side of the country. I logged back into my account and noted that I now had the option to enter in my address. I punched in a random address in Halifax just to test this out. Once I clicked ahead there were no other options. I panicked and clicked the back button and found no option to change this address.
I contacted my local Tesla showroom and was told that I now had to wait till delivery was close to update the address and that I should get a notification. The other option was to cancel my order and place a new one however that would push me back in the queue. This seemed incredibly odd and inconvenient, especially given the sticker price. That said, as we have established, Tesla is not a typical car company. I took the associates word and waited.
Prepare For Delivery?
In early June, Tesla delivered its first Model Y to Canada, my hometown of Vancouver no less. A few days after that I got a call from a Tesla Advisor in Toronto. He had good news, my Model Y was built in on its way…to Quebec!
Turns out, there is no Tesla showroom in the Atlantic provinces. Vehicles go to the closest location for processing and final delivery. So much for the option to update my address before delivery.
I explained my situation to the advisor and my disappointment in not being contacted earlier. He presented me with two options, collect the car in the east or cancel the order and place a new one and have it shipped to my home in Vancouver.
For some reason, the advisor could not wrap his head around the fact that I have no address in Halifax. I again explained that I wanted to take delivery in the East Coast and drive home. Once that finally got through, he said he would get back to me on how to proceed.
Back and Fourth
A couple of days pass and I am told I have to take possession in the province I live in because taxes have to be paid there. I replied letting him know that “normal“ dealerships do this all the time. Subsequently, I had done some digging in a Tesla form and found someone else that had done the same – pick up out of province and drove home. This owner did not provide details, just a comment that it took a lot of work with Tesla.
I let the advisor know this is and he said he would look into it. A few days pass again and I got a reply saying it’s not possible. Once again I replied saying that this has been done with other Tesla owners and with normal dealerships it is not an issue. He then backpedalled, saying that it’s not that it’s not possible, just that it is outside of Tesla’s standard practices. He then asked for my driver’s license information and said we would start from there.
On My Own
A couple of days pass and I log back into my Tesla account to see what is happening. This is when I notice that now my correct address has replaced the one in Nova Scotia. Now I am thinking my car is going to be new and heading to Vancouver, not Halifax.
Still not hearing anything back, I did some digging on my own through ICBC here in British Columbia and the various provinces that I would have to pass through along the way and finalized exactly what was required for me to pull this off. I replied to the Tesla associate and passed along this information. Still no reply.
After not hearing back for a week I followed up again. I finally received a reply saying that they could provide the documents required for me to pick up out of province. Perfect.
It was frustrating that I had to do the leg work but, again, I will give the benefit of the doubt as this is out of the norm for Tesla. Still, I shouldn’t have to chase a sales associate.
The second issue, however, was that the Atlantic provinces are not open for non-residential travel. I replied saying that I was targeting September originally. Sticking with this plan would hopefully allow enough time for the province to open up. It would also allow me to forgo the Model Y waiting for me in Quebec for one that was not prone to so many factory defects.
It’s now been over two weeks, two follow-ups emails, and a voice mail.
Dear Tesla, Do Better
So, as of today, I think I have a Model Y on order and I think my plan to pick it up in the east in September is a go? It’s very unsettling that I don’t have confirmation on this and I have had to chase down an employee. I’m trying not to be the male equivalent of a Karen (Ken?) here and am trying to give some slack given the pandemic but what the actual hell? Again, this car is not cheap and I expect a better Tesla order experience. Much better.
I will follow up with another phone call and try and get some more details. I will provide updates soon as I can’t be the only one struggling with this lack of detail. I’ll also be sure to share a dedicated post on how to pick up a Tesla out of province as this is something that took some effort on my part. It would be beneficial for those looking to do the same.
How Has Your Tesla Order Experience Been?
Do you have a similar story of poor customer service with Tesla? Or do you have nothing but positives to share? I can’t be the only one going through this confusing process with little communication from Tesla! Let me know in the comments below what your Tesla order experience has been like.