No Tesla for you!

By | February 9th, 2016

Stewart Alsop thought he was buying a Tesla Model X. He plunked down a $5,000 deposit before seeing it. He agreed to wait the three to four months required before delivery. He was willing to pay the $130,000 price tag.

In September, Alsop went to a premier event for the vehicle sponsored by Tesla. He was excited to see, touch and hear about the car. But that’s when things went bad: The event began almost two hours late. He and a group of 3,000 were moved from outside to inside and back again. The slide show about the car was “amateur.” He felt misled and mistreated. And no apologies were issued.

Advocating for himself, Alsop wrote a blog post to Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk. Last week, Musk reacted like The Soup Nazi and told Alsop, “No Tesla for you!”

Apparently we now know how far is too far. But the question is, should Tesla have banned Alsop? Should a company ban customers? Is this right?

And for the customer, did Alsop go too far? When should we stop in our quest to advocate and accept that companies, both good and bad at customer service, will sometimes make mistakes that they either can’t or won’t fix?

We all must advocate for ourselves. Elliott.org exists to help consumers fight their own battles. There are plenty of articles, help available in the forums, and company contacts to assist you in your consumer problems.


In the midst of advocating, none of us wants to be fired by the company from which we purchased. To avoid this, slow down, take a deep breath and don’t go over the edge. Alsop has given us an example of how not to complain. There are things we can do to honor customer service representatives (and ourselves!) while fighting for what we think a company should do to make things right.

Related story:   Crazy July for consumer complaints rivals record -- can you guess who won? (I mean, lost)

Research.
Peruse the Internet to see if others share your problem. Look for existing solutions. You might be able to solve the issue before contacting the company.

Be courteous.
If you need to initiate a phone call or email, don’t yell, curse or make accusations about the company or the person you’re dealing with. Treat them with kindness and patience.

Know what you want.
What will make the situation right for you? Do you need a full refund? Do you need someone to fix something? Do you need guidance in how you can fix it yourself?

Keep going up the ladder.
If you’re not getting what you want, ask for a supervisor. Even as you continue to advocate, be calm and courteous. There are notes in the case files, and if yours indicates that you are unfriendly or angry, it may cause the person dealing with you to develop a negative bias against you.

Go public.
Facebook and Twitter can be good ways to get the attention of the company you’re dealing with. Companies will often respond better when things get public. But be careful. As Alsop found out, too much harshness could cost you their willingness to assist.

Alsop is a great example to us of how not to escalate too quickly. He didn’t want a discount or a refund. He wanted an apology. But he wasn’t very courteous in asking for (demanding!) it. Maybe if he had been a bit less caustic in his request, he might have received one. And the Tesla Model X from which he is banned.

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