Many of Tesla’s die-hard customers are giving up on the electric car maker as the company struggles to deliver undamaged vehicles to people who’ve been waiting years for an inexpensive Model 3.
Customers are getting disillusioned as the Securities and Exchange Commission continues sniffing around Tesla. Federal regulators are examining the company’s past claims about production goals, The New York Times reported Thursday.
News of the probe comes after the company settled an agreement in September with the SEC over allegations CEO Elon Musk defrauded investors in August. Tesla and Musk were made to pay $40 million for the infraction. Meanwhile, Tesla’s fan base is getting weary of the stops and starts.
Florida resident Jim Fyfe, for one, paid a $2,500 deposit in June to order a black $70,000 Model 3. He was given a delivery date in early September, but he was told the car was still in California at the delivery date. After several delays, Tesla informed Fyfe that his Model 3 had been involved in an accident in transit.
Fyfe eventually asked for his money back before Tesla assured him the company had another car ready for him. Delivery was set for Oct. 27, but that date hit a snafu as well. A Tesla sales representative said his second car was no longer available, because it was also damaged. He cancelled his order shortly thereafter.
“If they had been straight up with me, I probably wouldn’t have canceled,” he told TheNYT. “I lost all faith in Tesla. I don’t think I’ll ever buy a Tesla.” Fyfe received a refund of his deposit – a Tesla spokeswoman said Fyfe’s sale representative was mistaken and that only one of his vehicles was damaged.
Many of the Model 3s coming off the production line are damaged. Customers are complaining on Twitter of receiving badly dinged up vehicles. Some owners have reported waiting a month or more for repairs because of a shortage of parts.
Other prospective Tesla owners shared similar experiences. Jonathan Berent, for instance, paid a $1,000 deposit in 2016 to reserve a Model 3 – he paid another $2,500 this year for a Performance version. He was told in September that his car was at Tesla’s Fremont, California, plant. A sales representative showed Berent the car, but there was a mix-up.
The car he was shown belonged to someone else. The salesman found another car in an inventory lot, according to Berent, who said his new vehicle had paint defects that had to be repaired. (RELATED: Here’s How Elon Musk Landed Himself And Tesla In The Fed’s Doghouse)
He canceled his order after considering the paint issue and the other frustrations he experienced. “I didn’t want a car that might not work,” he said, adding: “There was no way I was taking that car … If you’re buying an $85,000 car, it should be a great experience.”
The Department of Justice is also targeting Tesla and Musk. FBI agents are trying to determine if the company misled investors about the company’s business model going back to 2017, The Wall Street Journal reported in October.
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