Tesla’s issues with poor customer service are not anything new, and are one of the greatest blights on the reputation of an otherwise decent company. Calls for improvement have gone largely unanswered up until this point, as the electric car manufacturer struggles with rapid growth and growing demand for their products. But a recent development may prove to be a large financial blow: Tesla just lost a major $5.55 million order of Model 3 vehicles to car rental company Nextmove due to service and quality issues. With Nextmove ditching Tesla like this, does that mean that change may be on the horizon?
Nextmove: Tesla Canceled Order
The car rental company Nextmove is helmed by Stefan Moeller in Germany. In an ambitious move that could have made a big impact on Tesla’s presence in Europe, Moeller ordered 100 Tesla Model 3 cars in 2018 for use in his fleet, a contract which came to about $5.5 million.
His excitement at such a large investment soon died down, however, after the experience dissolved into what may be described as customer service hell. Following the delivery of the first 15 vehicles, weeks of back and forth with Tesla customer service began due to quality issues and unfulfilled repair work.
In an email received by Electrek, Moeller described the situation: “Tesla Model 3 vehicles, which nextmove was supposed to take over after payment and only a short examination, sometimes had serious defects: defective tires, paint and body damages, defective charge controllers, wrong wiring harnesses or missing emergency call buttons. Such quality defects would have endangered the safety of the customers and the profitability of nextmove.”
Another issue cropped up when Tesla tried to deliver cars that had already been registered to other buyers in the country, which would have prevented Nextmove from benefiting from potential tax refunds and other electric car incentives. Tesla claimed that the issue came from problems with their VIN matching system.
After insisting that Tesla promise to deliver the new vehicles in good condition and to provide timely service, Moeller says that Tesla triggered a refund clause for the remainder of the order. Nextmove went on to express their frustration over the situation on Youtube.
Tesla’s Side of the Story
Tesla, however, tells a slightly different story. They say that Nextmove chose not to take delivery of the remaining cars in their order and that the problem was not entirely due to quality issues. According to them, Tesla was in the process of making repairs and had even gone as far as providing loaner vehicles to Nextmove when the order was canceled.
“We believe the customer’s decision not to take delivery of its remaining Model 3 orders wasn’t entirely due to quality issues but was largely influenced by their frustration with an unrelated dispute from earlier in the year,” Tesla declared in a statement. They did not elaborate on what this “unrelated dispute” entailed.
While it may eventually make no difference who canceled the order, there can be little doubt that Tesla’s poor customer service holds most of the blame. With similar quality and service issues also being reported in Norway (Europe’s largest electric-car market per capita) and elsewhere in Europe, unhappy customers are putting the spotlight on what seems to be an unresponsive and unconcerned company. This will ultimately have an effect on Tesla’s impact in the European market.
Will Tesla take a lesson from this incident and actively work to make things better, or will they simply brush it aside and move on? Only time will tell.