Tesla customer has been waiting over 2 years for a Model X refund

Danny Roman runs a sustainable outdoor adventure company that offers bike tours and hikes in Southern California.

Danny Roman

Danny Roman purchased a new Tesla Model X and took delivery of the car on February 28, 2020.

Three days later, he informed the company that he would return the electric SUV under the seven-day, no-questions-asked policy that Tesla CEO Elon Musk was promoting at the time.

Today, more than two years since Tesla took possession of the car, Roman still does not have his refund or access to the vehicle, which had a total price tag of around $116,000, including various options and fees.

Records indicate Tesla picked up his Model X and loaded it onto a tow truck on March 8, 2020, after which he expected his refund to arrive immediately. His bank advised him to ask the EV maker to initiate a “stop sale,” he recalls, and then his Tesla sales rep informed him that his refund would be processed soon.

Instead, several weeks later, while still corresponding with Tesla about the status of his return, Roman received a service alert from Tesla telling him to come pick up the electric SUV. The alert explained that it had been repaired and was at a service center in Burbank, California, even though he had originally purchased the vehicle in Century City, about a 40-minute drive away.

Roman told CNBC that he was stunned by the service alert. He says that he never requested or authorized any repairs and that Tesla previously acknowledged that he would return the car. (Correspondence between Roman and Tesla, which he shared with CNBC, confirms his account.)

Roman stopped making car payments for a month because he thought everything was going well. The bank then told him that he had missed a payment and that his credit score had taken a 30-point hit. When he called to ask about it, he was told that Tesla had not issued a stop sale.

As the owner of a small business that offers bike and hike tours in Southern California, Roman says he needed to maintain a strong credit rating. So, given Tesla’s stubborn stance on the Model X, he decided he had no choice but to continue making the car payments to his bank and pay to keep the car insured.

Roman wanted to avoid any garnishment by his bank and knew that the financial institution could have ruined his credit if he didn’t keep up the payments. He kept the insurance payments in case the vehicle was damaged while in Tesla’s possession.

“If you stop paying your bank, it will destroy you!” Roman said.

As a result, for the past two years, Roman has been paying for a car he doesn’t own.

Tesla did not respond to a request for comment about its customer’s situation.

Why did you return the car?

Roman says he bought the car because he was a fan of Tesla, read that the Model X had an excellent safety rating, and believed that driving a battery electric vehicle would minimize the environmental footprint of his personal transportation.

As a parent of a baby at the time, I was very concerned about safety. And as the owner of a sustainable outdoor adventure company, he felt buying a battery-powered electric car was a good way to underscore that commitment.

The car was marketed with a battery that had a range of more than 400 miles, essential for driving from Southern California to the San Francisco Bay Area and points along the way where you frequently commute and sometimes drive. bike tours.

When he first took the Tesla Model X out, the vehicle’s range indicator said that Roman had depleted 15 miles of battery after driving less than a half mile from home.

When he tried to recharge the vehicle’s high-voltage battery the first day he owned the car, traveling to a Tesla supercharge station in Culver City, Roman said it took much longer than sales reps promised: hours, not hours. 45 minutes. — to charge up to 80% or more of the battery’s full range.

Roman shared photos with CNBC of the vehicle’s display and charging status from that ride. Even before the time he spent plugged into a charging station, Roman said, he had already waited more than an hour to get access to a stall, because there was a long line of cars in front of him.

“This is Los Angeles. Everyone has a Tesla.”

Tesla owners waiting to recharge their electric vehicle batteries in Southern California.

Danny Roman

In addition to battery issues, Roman said one of the vehicle’s falcon-wing doors got stuck when he tried to open it. And he discovered that installing a charger in his apartment complex would cost 10 times more than Tesla sales reps claimed. Sales reps said he could install a charger at home for around $700; they knew he lived in an apartment building, but instead quoted the price of a charger at a detached garage.

In the spring of 2019, Elon Musk told his millions of Twitter followers, “To be clear, orders are fully refundable, even after you’ve had your Tesla for a week” and “If anyone really wants to return the car in good faith on the 8th, it’s fine.

So Roman returned his car.

Danny Roman’s Tesla Model X had battery and door issues that prompted him to return it to the electric vehicle manufacturer in 2020.

Danny Roman

At one point, messages from Tesla to Roman show that the company tried to convince him that it didn’t have a seven-day return policy when he purchased his vehicle.

But Tesla had the return policy on its website until October 2020, months after he purchased and returned the Model X. (The return policy was also mentioned in his sales contract.) After three months of going back and forth with the company, including being told that his refund would be coming soon and then that he could pick it up for repair, Roman filed a lawsuit against the company.

To his surprise, instead of being able to proceed in court, he was informed that his case would be sent to an alternative dispute resolution process.

By the time he signed the paperwork to receive his Model X, Roman had agreed to an arbitration clause.

no day in court

Roman’s situation regarding the Tesla Model X highlights the vulnerability of American consumers who are routinely forced to enter into arbitration agreements to purchase services or items.

Mandatory arbitration is common in new and used car sales, says Paul Bland, executive director of Public Justice, a consumer advocacy group.

For all practical purposes, consumers get nothing by agreeing to arbitration, he says. For businesses, however, “their motivation is to limit liability and make it harder for a consumer to win an individual case if he did something illegal,” Bland said. “It’s such a secretive system that it’s much harder for consumers to find out what happened to people in previous related cases, and it makes it much harder for there to be a class action lawsuit.”

Roman says that if he had realized that the company was not being honest with him about the car and the advance return process, he would not have bought the Model X and would not have agreed to arbitration. Arbitration for him is still pending.

Meanwhile, Roman had to lease another car to use in place of the Model X. He told CNBC that he is leasing a hybrid-electric Toyota Prius.

“Every time they take money out of my account, every month, I cringe,” Roman said. “On top of that, I’ve spent over a hundred hours of my life trying to fix this and just worrying.”

In February of this year, Tesla, still refusing to acknowledge that it had accepted his vehicle as a return, sent a message to Roman telling him that his car, which he hadn’t seen in about two years, was ready to be picked up at a pick-up center. of service.

Perplexed, Roman emailed them and told them he would come pick it up. But then Tesla didn’t make an appointment for him to do it. They told her to call his bank instead. That got him nowhere.

Danny Roman used the Tesla app to track down a Model X that he returned to the company in 2020.

Furious and curious about what had happened to the Model X over time, Roman logged into the Tesla app to see if he could learn anything about its whereabouts. It turned out that the car he had paid for was in a junkyard just 11 miles from his house.

“After everything that has happened to me, I still believe very much in Tesla, Elon Musk and electric cars,” Roman told CNBC. “I hope my story reaches the powers that be at Tesla and they make the necessary changes so this doesn’t happen to their future customers.”

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