Tesla road trip 2019

Written on 1 September 2019, 12:00am

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Writing this post some months after the trip which happened in August 2019

2800km through France, Italy, Switzerland, Austria and Germany
The trip segments – 2773 km in total

The road trip was mostly ruined by a faulty piece – the chiller – which led to the AC not working for a few hundred kilometers in Southern France.

By ‘reduced’ it meant ‘not working’

Here are some notes that I sent to Tesla back then:

There are a number of shortcomings in the way Tesla provides support, I am detailing them below:

1) the alert message was simply wrong (the AC was not ‘reduced’ but simply not working anymore)

2) the alert message does not provide any indication on the next steps I could take (like the ones communicated on the phone 16 hours later). Why not put these troubleshooting steps on the console when the alert appears on the screen? Or, even better, send a ranger my way?

3) the waiting times for the call center are simply ridiculous. On 12th August I tried to reach the Tesla roadside assistance from 16:00 to 19:30, without any luck. This is simply unacceptable to me, since I had an emergency

4) the instructions received by phone are contradicting the ones from the Service Center. Not only they were wrong, but they put into danger my safety (by encouraging me to drive along in a potentially unsafe car) as well as the battery life (the Aix en Provence SC said that the battery could be irremediably damaged by continuing to drive)

5) Tesla mobility solutions are ineffective and inflexible. I understand that finding a loaner at 17:30 on the day before a national holiday in France is not easy, but Tesla should be more flexible and better prepared for such cases

6) the Tesla parts distribution network has a lot of room for improvement. Overnight delivery in Europe should be a lot easier than in the US, and in the worst case, you should have a clear indication when an ordered piece will arrive at the SC

7) your European branch seems to be significantly understaffed. I am talking about 1) call center staff 2) SC technical staff (it took almost 4 hours to diagnose the problem) and 3) SC customer support staff (the SC manager told me that he has very few people who could help me with the issue).

In the end, after more than two days of waiting and uncertainty, the Aix Service Center found a solution to my problem:

  • either the faulty piece ordered on 14th of August PM arrived on 16th of August AM from the Netherlands (15th of August is a bank holiday)
  • or (more likely if you ask me), the SC simply replaced the faulty piece in my car with a working one from a loaner, while waiting for the original piece to be delivered from the Netherlands.
One of these is the chiller

Tesla and customer service

Written on 11 March 2019, 09:58pm

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A propos my past rants about the Tesla customer service here in Belgium, I just read this (highlights mine):

Tesla TSLA owners still love their vehicles, and the electric automaker still beats out competitors, according to a new survey by research firm Bernstein. But the company’s Achilles’ heel is its customer service.

Only 42% of customers described their service center experience as “excellent,” vs. 57% last time. Wait times for appointments have grown longer. Similar to our last survey, the service experience was especially weak outside the U.S. Perhaps most concerningly, recent service center users (those that had visited a center in the last 3 months) were less satisfied with their experience, experienced longer wait times for appointments, and had poorer rates of problem resolution — pointing to ongoing strain (and potential underinvestment?) in Tesla’s service network.

Tesla’s biggest problem is its customer service, according to a new Bernstein survey

This is spot on and it certainly applies in my case. Just a reminder, this is the breakdown of my current problems with Tesla:

  • long waiting times to get in touch with the customer service
  • asking me to pay for the replacement of the insecure key fobs or alternatively to disable the Passive Entry
  • only recording the real-time location of the car while driving (but not when someone moves it away)
  • setting up an arbitrary, unchangeable and absurd dashcam recording limit of 1 hour

Still don’t buy a Tesla!

Written on 17 February 2019, 07:51pm

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Remember how a few months ago I was not recommending buying a Tesla because of the bad customer support? Well… I still don’t. Despite some positive signs (which I will detail below), the overall customer experience remains sub-optimal. And on top of that, I just stumbled upon two additional frustrating issues.

The good

There were some improvements since my post in December 2018. First, the mirror problem was finally addressed. A Tesla Ranger came to my house and replaced the faulty piece in less than half an hour. Definitely a positive experience, but the fact that I had to wait more than two months to have it fixed is still a big issue.
The second positive issue: the Tesla Service managed to reply one of my emails in 14 hours during a weekend period.

The bad

Let’s say you drive with your Model S to location X. Then, a few hours later, you come back to the place you parked your car, and can’t find it anymore. You open the Tesla iOS app, it updates, and it still shows that your Model S is in the location X (which is not). Your Model S was towed away to location Y, but you will never see the location Y from the app.
Here is what Tesla says about this:

I can confirm that this is indeed normal behavior.
The GPS location of the vehicle only updates when the car is actually being driven.
You will experience the same if the car is being transported on a ferry.
When the vehicle starts driving again, the GPS location will refresh. In some cases it will takes a couple of drives for it to refresh afterwards, but in most cases it will pick up at the first drive.

Tesla EMEA Customer Support responding to the scenario described above
The Tesla iOS app does not show the real-time location of your car

I am absolutely stunned by this behavior. Not only it violates the principle of least surprise, but it also means that you can never trust the location shown in your app (unless you have your car in sight). Not being able to see the real-time location of your car despite having the technical means to do it is simply astonishing. I am authenticated as the owner of this car, I am asking you to show me the location, you have the means to do it – so just show me where it is!
I asked Tesla if they plan to update this behavior and I will update this post if I receive an answer.

The ugly

I just found out that the Tesla dashcam only stores one hour of video recordings on the USB drive. At the moment you cannot change this setting, it is not documented anywhere (I found the information on reddit) and it doesn’t make any difference if your USB drive would be able to store more than that. It’s such an arbitrary and artificial limit and the fact that it’s not documented anywhere makes it even more frustrating (principle of least surprise again).
There are workarounds: the expensive way (have several USB drives and rotate them periodically), or the nerd way (use a Raspberry Pi to sync the contents of the USB drive with your file server when you get home). None of them are ideal, the right thing to do is to allow me (the owner of the car) to decide about the matter (1, 2, 100 or 0 hours of video storage).
Again, I asked Tesla if they plan any change related to this behavior.

Update 18 February: Tesla confirmed the 1-hour recording limit and logged my request to make this limit user-configurable. “As for expanding this time, we are hoping so we get a lot of requests for it.

Update 20 February: On 16 February I asked Tesla if they plan to change the current set up, where the real-time location of the car is not shown unless you drive car. On 20 February they replied: “I have submitted this as a feature request for the development team to review.