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Tesla doubled some customers for new cars

Christopher Lee and his 2021 Tesla Model Y

Christopher T. Lee

Last week, after paying for brand new Tesla electric cars, Southern California residents Tom Slattery, Christopher T. Lee and Clark Peterson told CNBC that they were mocked for finding that the company had charged them twice, and took tens of thousands of dollars from the bank account. without authorization or warning, and then give them a frustrating review when applying for a refund.

CNBC reviewed records including purchase agreements for motor vehicles, correspondence with Tesla and bank statements to confirm their stories.

Two other customers, whose identities are known by CNBC but asked to remain anonymous for privacy reasons, said they also experienced duplicate Tesla debit charges, leaving them in distress. One of them faces a withdrawal fee and threatening financing costs on credit card bills that fall due at the end of the month.

The cost of a new Tesla is not trivial. For the affected buyers interviewed by CNBC, amounts from their accounts ranged from $ 37,000, the price of a base version 2021

Tesla Model 3 sedan to around $ 71,000, the price of a 2021 Tesla Model Y crossover SUV loaded with premium options.

Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment for further information. CNBC asked the company how many customers experienced duplicate fees, how such issues could affect delivery figures at the end of the quarter (which is expected to report in early April), how quickly the company can refund owners and what customers to do in this situation.

Dave Excell, founder of a technical crime prevention firm called Featurespace, said that duplicate fees are generally a common problem in e-commerce and banking.

Without talking specifically about Tesla’s problems, he said that platforms that process ACH transactions can use so-called de-duplication functions to prevent double loading from happening incorrectly. At the same time, the systems they use must be flexible enough to allow duplicate transactions to be completed – such as a regular paycheck, or a grandparent sending $ 50 to each of their grandchildren on the same day.

For consumers who see funds taken from accounts twice, when they only ordered once, Excell said: “It is best to go back to the seller and tell them that an error occurred. Ask them to reverse or refund the money. It should be the easiest way. “Contacting a bank to ask them to try to reverse the transaction may also work, but it may take longer and will require the bank to coordinate with sellers.

Here’s what happened to the buyers of Tesla cars.

Cheeky awakening

Tesla Model 3

Source: Tesla

On March 24, Slatterys was thrilled after a text from Tesla said the car they had ordered in January could be delivered to their home in one to three days via the company’s “contactless” delivery service.

Tesla wanted to drop off the car in its home, and Slattery could use the Tesla app as a digital key to get into it for the first time. This was a slightly different process than what he had experienced buying a Model 3 from Tesla in 2019 – a car he says he still loves to drive after the first faults were discovered and repaired.

The contactless delivery process is one Tesla has touted as safe and convenient during the Covid pandemic. All Slattery had to do was complete the order by uploading proof of insurance, driver’s license for Model Y title holders, and finally choosing the method of payment.

If customers pay in advance and online, Tesla now accepts bitcoin or ACH direct payments. For convenience, and without other options, Slattery added the bank account and routing numbers and authorized funds transfers.

When he checked his account the next morning, March 25, Tom Slattery woke up to find that his bank account had been used up by almost $ 53,000 more than he expected – the sum he agreed to pay for a long-range, all-wheel drive, 2021 Tesla Model Y. It would be a new Tesla for his family.

Slattery says he immediately discovered the duplicate and jumped to call and send an SMS to Tesla. He spent the day getting stoned, people did not answer the phone or had no definitive answer about reimbursement.

Slattery eventually drove to Tesla Burbank, California, store and service center to speak with sales and delivery personnel in person.

He says, “They asked me to call my bank and get my bank to reverse the cost. That was not acceptable. When you charge more than $ 50,000 dollars and ask a customer to fix it on their own? I kept pushing. “

Five days later, Slattery is still awaiting a refund or written commitment that he will be reimbursed and by what date.

He says he will refuse to accept delivery of the new 2021 Model Y, which did not appear in the previously estimated delivery window until the refund is complete.

The stress comes at a terrible time for his family – they are looking for a new home in another state, and any problems with funds can affect their ability to bid on a house or secure a mortgage on time and at the desired price or rate.

Not the only ones

Slattery is hardly alone. He said that a Tesla employee at the Burbank store and service center said in his presence that hundreds of customers experienced the same problem with duplicate costs.

While still on board with electric cars and having no plans to leave Tesla, Slattery said: “It’s hard to imagine sales and service getting worse. I had stolen almost $ 53,000 unauthorized from my bank account. And no, no one has called me, sent me an email, there is no sense of urgency in resolving this. ”

Meanwhile, the bank told him that it could potentially take at least 10 days and up to 45 days to get a refund processed at the end. And it would be faster to handle things through Tesla.

Another Los Angeles resident, Clark Peterson, told CNBC a similar story.

He was excited to finally accept the delivery of a Tesla Model Y, a car that his family had wanted since the three-row version of it was teased last year, but that they could not order from Tesla until January 2021.

After missing the original estimated delivery windows in February, Tesla said last week that it could finally drop the 2021 Model Y at Peterson’s home within one to three days via a contactless service program. Tesla asked him to complete the payment, and he uploaded proof of insurance, driver’s license and bank information for the March 24 debit payment.

On March 25, Tesla called and left an answering machine saying it wanted to go over the delivery schedule with Peterson. When they finally connected by phone, the delivery employee said that the vehicle could arrive anywhere between 9 a.m. and midnight on March 26, and mentioned as one aside that Peterson’s account was double charged.

“He asked me to call the bank and stop paying for it,” Peterson said. “I said the money has left my account. I’m pretty familiar with how bank transfers work. When the money’s gone, the money’s gone! He insisted I call my bank. So I did. They confirmed like no, the money is “We can not do anything about it until we hear from them.”

Peterson says he loves owning a high-tech car that does not use gasoline, is fast and quiet. His kids are excited about the idea of ​​having a Tesla. But he wonders why it was possible to pay $ 71,000 for a luxury vehicle in minutes, but not to be reimbursed for a massive, erroneous fee the same day.

A customer service representative at his bank told him he was not the only one who had called to try to resolve this issue.

On social media, where Peterson turned to seek further information and vent his frustration, someone asked if he only pressed the buy button twice.

“This was not an operator error,” Peterson said. “And for a company that has so many technological skills, it can really be questionable to get this to more people.”

Peterson was told by a customer service representative, who called over the weekend, that Tesla would give him a refund within one to three business days. He asked her to send the details by email or text. A written record never came.

He was still waiting for the refund or written communication about it from Monday afternoon.

Live blogger his Tesla problems

The new Tesla Model Y is introduced. Tesla has expanded its model range to include an SUV based on today’s Model 3.

Hannes Breustedt | picture alliance | Getty Images

Another new Tesla customer, Christopher T. Lee, says the Model Y was his dream car, but he and his girlfriend have chewed on eating “broken college kid” food while waiting for the refund.

Lee also produced a video about him becoming a Tesla owner. While working in another field, Lee is known as “Everyday Chris” on YouTube. He has been making consumer technology reviews and instructional videos on his channel for about a year. Now he plans to run a series on Tesla adventures and ownership.

In an agreement on March 27, called “Was I just DRAWED by TESLA ???!” Lee starts things off by saying, “Hey, it’s Chris! And I love Tesla, but in today’s video I’ll talk about how I was tricked by Tesla.”

He says that he saved for his “dream car”, Tesla Model Y 2021, and paid for the car with ACH by using the routing and checking the information. Then he talks about the “bad dream” feeling when he saw his bank account drained the next day.

“I was only going to pay $ 56,578.63 for my Model 3. … They ended up charging me twice for the car.”

Unlike Slattery and Peterson, Tesla told Lee that there was no record he had been charged twice. Tesla continued to ask him to call his bank, even though he paid through ACH where funds were withdrawn immediately.

The service center near him could eventually give him an e-mail address to someone in the finance department at Tesla’s offices in Fremont, California. He is still waiting for a refund for the double charge.

Lee told CNBC that he hopes his video can help other Tesla buyers avoid similar problems, or at least solve them faster together. If he had done it again, Lee says, maybe he would have used a cashier’s check and paid in person instead of online.

Here is the whole video:

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