On September 24th, physician Dr. Ali Vaziri was unpleasantly surprised by a mobile alert from his bank, which said he had just purchased a $4,280 upgrade for his Tesla Model 3. The large transaction, he quickly surmised, was a “butt dial” or accidental purchase made through the Tesla app on his iPhone.
“My phone was in my jeans,” Vaziri told CNBC. “I took it out, put it on this charger that comes with your Tesla and that’s it. A minute later? I got the text. I’ve never purchased anything through the Tesla app before.”
Vaziri had owned the electric sedan happily for less than a few months at the point of his accidental purchase. He linked a credit card to his Tesla account, he said, to pay a monthly fee for “premium connectivity” in the car. (That service enables features like live traffic visualization, satellite maps, video and music streaming over cellular and wifi networks.) The same card was billed for “Enhanced Autopilot,” a $4,000 software upgrade that would enhance the driver assistance features of the car.
Available for a very limited time this year, the September 2020 version of Enhanced Autopilot included an automatic navigation feature, automatic lane changing and parking, and a “Summon” feature that lets drivers step out of their vehicles, then park them using a key fob or Tesla app as a remote control of sorts.
Moments after he received the mobile alert from his bank, Vaziri called his local Tesla store and service center. They couldn’t help directly, but gave him the number for a customer service hotline. He called the number, and requested a refund. Instead of processing the doctor’s refund request on the spot, the customer service rep told Vaziri to click on the refund button in his Tesla app to process his request.
To this date, Vaziri says, Tesla customer service has not provided him with a refund, nor has the call center provided him with so much as a confirmation number or e-mail to acknowledge his calls about the refund.
Instead, he processed a stop payment request through his credit card company. CNBC reviewed records of the unintended purchase and stop payment request.
“The car has been great since I’ve had it. But this has been a nightmare. The customer service is horrendous,” Vaziri said.