When Tesla pulls up his factory in Fremont, California, to escape what Elon Musk calls "production hell" in his new Model 3 sedan, some clients experience their own state of suffering as they try to maintain Tesla.
Parts bottlenecks, long repair delays and customer service issues have led to disputes in Tesla's service centers.
Recently, at the company's entrance in Dublin, California, a restive owner of Model X was trying to drop him off for repairing SUVs. A Tesla agent said he could not leave the car because the facility was too busy. He could make an appointment to bring it in another time, maybe in a few weeks.
"But I do not want to drive it!" said Kaushal Bhaskar, a software engineer from nearby San Ramon, who complained that sometimes he could not open the passenger door, while at other times the door opened on its own ̵
Another service employee assisted Mike, the owner of a red model 3 with door lock problems, who refused to give his last name. He would lock the car, leave, and unlock it electronically. That caused him to change his vacation plans. "I could not bring it to Yosemite," he said.
The agent said Mike had to leave the car there for a while: "The number of cases I have now is unbelievable."
Service complaints are common with conventional car dealers, of course, for new cars. Weeks in waiting for a basic car repair, however, are rare, and months of waiting for body parts are virtually unheard of for anyone but the most exotic vehicles, as spare parts from car manufacturers and aftermarket manufacturers are stocked in the warehouse.
Spare parts for the repair are almost always produced by the original manufacturer, said Bill Hampton, editor of the journal Auto Beat Daily.
But, he said, it's not surprising that such parts are currently not a top priority at Tesla
"If you make dramatic efforts in a week to make 5,000 (model 3), you can not say for sure: 'Hey, a guy in Topeka needs a new hood. "Pity & # 39;", Hampton
The parts shortage goes way beyond California. In Norway, the third largest market for Tesla cars after the US and China, some customers told Norwegian media they had been waiting months for body parts for their damaged Tesla's. Musk turned to the Norwegian problem on Twitter on July 5, saying, "Norwegians are right about annoying Tesla, and we're struggling to expand our service facilities in Oslo, which can be solved quickly with Tesla Mobile service transporters but awaits approval. " , "
He has not raised any issues in the US or anywhere else, The Times asked Tesla to provide a service expert to discuss what the company is doing to improve customer service, but it declined  Only Tesla knows the full extent of its quality issues: JD Power, which classifies the initial vehicle quality, measures all mass-market automakers except Tesla, which rejects quality data requested by the research firm.
A Tesla spokesman said in a prepared statement that the own global satisfaction for service is over 90 percent A new parts delivery service was opened this spring in California, the statement said, and while "call volumes have increased dramatically due to the overwhelming excitement of the Model 3, this has not affected our ability to respond to emergency situations to respond. "19659002] Tesla has" plans ", more employees in customer care "if they can not find their answers" on Tesla's support site "or in their Tesla account," the company said. And it is planned to open a large new service center in Oslo later this year.
Jeff Klein, a publishing director in Northridge, said the hood and front quarter of his wife's Model S were damaged in an accident in March. Four months later, the car is still in a Tesla-certified workshop, waiting for parts, while Klein makes monthly leasing payments. Klein did not need a rental car.
"The general manager said it might take several months for Tesla not to realize that her cars could fall into accidents and that they did not have spare parts stores," Klein said. "Their parts are made to order, just like their cars."
On Tesla Online Forums, customers complain about long waits on Tesla's customer service line and sometimes wait for hours to check the status of a car delivery or repair or to request a refund for a car bail. Some report that Tesla does not come back to them at all.
Mathijs Kok from Buren, Germany, said the company promised by phone that someone would call back his call to correct a windshield problem with his new Model S. No one called him back
The next time he had a problem – this one with an unattractive roadside assistance – Kok mailed the company. He never heard back again, despite some follow-up memories.
Kok, who said he runs a customer service department at Aerosoft GmbH, a software developer of flight simulators, called the email snub "evil."
"The lack of recalls was sloppy, almost certainly caused by too much work," he said. "In short, it's damn hard to get in touch, and there's a lack of procedures that allow problems to be overlooked and not tracked in time."
Service issues are not new at Tesla. In August, Tesla Motors Club Forum sales, marketing, delivery and service president Jon McNeill said the company had "streamlined" customer service to make it easier to contact the right person at Tesla. Six months later, McNeill left Tesla to become Lyft's chief operating officer.
In June, Karim Bousta, Tesla, left vice president of global service and customer experience, as did David Erhart, senior director of reliability and testing  Tesla's sales and service approach is very different from most automakers who use their cars sell to franchise dealers. Tesla owns and leads the retail business itself.
The company's 74 service centers in the US are complemented by Tesla Rangers, a mobile service program that employs service personnel to have some cars repaired on site
Pioneering "over-the-air" updates that allow software updates to be transferred to the car without having to bring it to the dealer.
Tesla executives said that this approach lowers Tesla's cost of capital. But the accelerated production – 53,339 cars from three different models in the second quarter, up 55 percent from a year earlier and nearly a fivefold increase from the same period in 2015 – may be overwhelming Tesla's service sources.
Add to that the wide variety of quality issues in Model 3 reported on Tesla customer forums, including broken glass, bad paint jobs, gaps between body panels, dead batteries, wind noise, dents, scratches, and software issues, including door locks and strangely-responsive touch screens  Of course, Tesla has one of the greatest loyal customer bases of an automaker. The same forums are peppered with praise for the cars and with Tesla service. And car reviewers are almost unanimous in their praise for the way the Model 3 drives.
Consumer Reports relies on customer surveys for its own quality ratings. Mike Quincy, an automotive specialist at the research firm, called Tesla's quality record "mixed."
"The good news is that the Model S has a new car reliability better than the average," Quincy said with reference to the mainstay Tesla sedan. "The bad news is that the Model X has proven to be far worse than the average, so far, too few surveys have been collected to rate the Model 3."
If the quality of Model 3 proves to be below average and service issues are not resolved, it could mean that there are even bigger problems for Tesla as it tries to become mainstream, according to Karl Brauer in the Kelley Blue Book.
Early Tesla buyers are "so in love with the car that they ignore things that most buyers would not stand." such as delays in repairs or batteries that fail several times, "said Brauer.
He suggested that musk spent more time troubleshooting Tesla and less time spent on caving operations or offering water pollution problems in Flint, Michigan, Musk & # 39; s Newest Social Deal.
As the Model 3 expands the Tesla customer base, it could test the company's over-the-air service model.
At the Dublin service base, Bhaskarks service representative said a review of the company's " Operating data of his vehicle, recorded on Tesla's cloud storage system, never opened the door by itself. "But I saw it with my own eyes," Bhaskar insisted. (The Times called the Dublin center three times, reversing the service ladder No phone calls were returned.)
Bhaskar told the agent to take the car home and make an appointment but would want a written confirmation of the door security problem. "We do not do that on paper," he was told. "Here, that's not the way business is done."
The problem escalated and after 45 minutes Bhaskar was allowed to leave his car. He was driving in a Mercedes-Benz SUV loaner.