AUTO PUNDITZ

After Outcry, Customers refunded by Tesla for duplicate charges

All the Customers, who had been charged two times for their new vehicle purchase, at end of the first quarter, have been refunded by Tesla, CNBC has reported.


This was done after CNBC had reported on the duplicate charges as also the video review by Christopher T Lee, on YouTube, wherein he had urged the Tesla buyers to use a cashier's check as an alternative to direct debit by Tesla.


Six customers from California and North Carolina shared with CNBC that their refunds had been processed a week after their complaint was raised at Tesla Inc.

Tesla refunded their charges along with overdraft fees on or before 01 April.

Tesla had issued a formal apology email to the aggrieved customers and also gave them a $200 credit for spending in a single visit to its online store. The credit is to be used in a single transaction on shop.tesla.com and is valid till Jan 30, 2022, the email deadlined.

Tesla-branded or a new key fob for Model 3 or Model Y can be purchased with this credit. It is not applicable for premium items and accessories like roof racks or adapters (that can be plugged into any Tesla Outlet or at home, for recharge.)

A spokesperson for National Automated Clearing House Association, or NACHA, told CNBC that, anecdotally, unauthorized duplicate charges for high-priced items purchased using ACH debit are uncommon. NACHA manages the development and governance of the ACH network.


Lee and two other California-based Tesla owners, Clark Peterson and Tom Slattery, while speaking with CNBC on the duplicate charges in March, said that Tesla will have to improve both its sales and customer service.

Peterson said, “While happy to have the whole situation sorted, I still feel that the response time was inadequate. It took days before Tesla had any kind of response, and they were holding our significant funds the whole time. And it took them five minutes to take those funds from our account.”


Slattery said the gesture was too little, too late. He already possesses all the accessories he needs and was not interested to wear Tesla’s apparel at this point. In fact, he was distracted and stressed by this refund episode.


Tesla had paid him back on March 31, a week after Slattery's initial call, and visited the company’s Burbank service center and showroom seeking answers, he said. After receiving the apology email from Tesla on Tuesday night, Slattery told CNBC, “Anything reasonable done quickly would have been completely fine. But I’ve learned that Tesla’s culture is that they care about the stock price and not customers.” When he had read the news about Tesla’s record first-quarter vehicle delivery numbers, he said, he had wanted to be genuinely happy for Tesla but instead had a sinking feeling.


“I thought, ‘You had to sideline us, even though you had these ridiculously positive sales numbers? How could you not pause to deal with people in dire straits?’” The problems extend beyond California.


A former banking executive in North Carolina, on conditions of anonymity, said that it was unreasonable for a refund to take a full business week. This person had been charged double for a 2021 Model Y, costing about $54,000. He had purchased the car online and been charged twice - funds withdrawn from his account on March 25.


And this information was conveyed to him by his bank rather than Tesla. It had taken about six hours to place a series of phone calls to banks and Tesla in North Carolina and California before he could figure out what had happened. He also didn’t get an email about a forthcoming refund until March 31. In the meantime he had to withdraw funds from a brokerage account to cover expenses, he said.


The customer is however happy with the car overall, having driven it a few hundred miles already. He rated Tesla’s customer service only a 1 out of 5. He maintained that it was clearly Tesla’s mistake, not the bank. There was no comment from Tesla for this fiasco.