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Tesla Service Centers Are Preventing Delivery Refusals In Weird Ways

This 2021 Model 3 would have been rejected if the owner could have inspected it properly.

After we mentioned a customer was forced to accept delivery of a Tesla Model 3 that was “dirty, dented,” had “dirty Autopilot lens, misalignment everywhere, dented metal, dented seats,” and a ground clearance that was below standard, Andrew Chan authorized us to tell his story. The long time Hong Kong Tesla owner is not the only buyer reporting weird delivery rules that prevent refusals. The video above reveals a similar situation.

Apart from presenting all the issues his 2021 Model 3 had, the video maker also clarified what happened to him. In his video’s comments section, he said he was told he could only check the car interior if he accepted delivery. As you will see, he also found defects there, such as creased seats, bad headliner alignment, and green and yellow tapes that seem to indicate defects that were not fixed. Other commenters said the same happened to them.

This was one of our concerns with Elon Musk’s appeal to reach the 500,000-mark that the company should have achieved in 2018. In that “leaked email,” he urged workers to help so that no improvements would be necessary at PDI (pre-delivery inspection) because "there simply isn’t enough time to do so.” The video confirms this last part, even though it could be worse.

Another commenter at Chris Tesla’s video said the front passenger door did not close because the subframe could be misassembled, which would make the door gaps a sign of frame issues that would not be fixable. Considering the amount of Model 3 with misaligned doors, this is something that deserves further investigation.

Although Chan’s Model 3 was shipped to Hong Kong weeks ago, it also presents the defects Chris Tesla complained about and some more. In other words, even if it was not affected by this recent delivery rush, it also lacked time at PDI.

According to Chan, his car was in the inventory, and he preferred it to be that way. He heard a rumor that Hong Kong would get Chinese cars with an LG battery pack instead of the one with Panasonic cells, and he would rather have the same Fremont supplier.

Surprised by the condition of the Model 3 at delivery, he tried to refuse it, but his Hong Kong Service Center told him he could not do that. The first excuse was that he had already signed the papers. Later, the SC added that Tesla had already paid the car's taxes, implying it could not be assigned to any other buyer. 

We are not familiar with Hong Kong’s consumer protection laws, but they are probably the same ones China adopts. If Chinese customers can refuse delivery, Chan probably would be able to do the same regardless of the taxes. Unfortunately, it is challenging to talk to Chinese authorities about this and impossible to get Tesla to answer anything. In October, the company ended its 7-day no-questions-asked return policy.

Chan’s main issue with the Model 3 now is its ground clearance. When he ordered it, he was told the Model 3 had a 15 cm (5.9 inches) distance from the ground. His car has a 12 cm (4.7 in) ground clearance, which will not allow him to enter his parking spot – hence his concern about it. Tesla said it is “within tolerance margins” even after ensuring him it was higher, according to Chan.

Curiously, Jason Fenske, from Engineering Explained, just shared a tweet saying his Model 3 has a much higher ground clearance.

The Hong Kong customer has two other EVs from the make apart from the Model 3: a 2015 Model S and a 2017 Model X. In his opinion, Tesla’s delivery experience is going downhill.

“When I first took delivery of a Tesla, the consultant made sure he explained all the car functions. It had paper on the mats so that they would not get dirty too fast. With my Model X, they just handed me the keys, but the car was clean. The Model 3 was this mess you can see in the pictures.”

It was not the first time Chan tried to buy a Model 3. In 2016, he placed a reservation for the EV and was charged seven times by Tesla. He canceled the reservation and only received all his money back three and a half years later – without any compensation or interest.

When he bought his Model X in 2017, he had a referral credit of HKD 20,000 (a little more than $2,500 under the current exchange rate). After speaking to a Tesla consultant and getting clearance to use this credit to buy his SUV, Chan was told at delivery that he could not use it anymore. He also learned that the consultant who said he could use it no longer worked for the company.

“I argued that it was not a personal arrangement: that guy was Tesla’s representative. I have that in email messages. Why wouldn’t the company honor the deal it had with me? It did not matter that he did not work for Tesla anymore, but the company refused to allow me to use the credit and that was it.”

More recently, Chan's electric crossover started experiencing the suspension issues that affect the Model S and Model X. The surprising part is what he heard from his Service Center when he complained about it.

“They said the car was too heavy for its suspension components. Both the lower and upper wishbone in my Model X cracked due to the heavy weight. I’ve run less than 30,000 km with it in three years. Even if I got an extended warranty, they said suspension elements would not be covered, which is equivalent to saying the car’s suspension has an expiry date.”

The falcon-wing doors are also allowing rain to pour into the cabin. Chan first heard that it is “within specs” and later that the issue emerged because the car “aged.”

“The rear doors are misaligned and they said it is normal. The plastics that prevent water from invading the cabin are dry and I had to replace them. On top of that, the falcon-wing doors opened completely in my garage and dented my Model S. When I complained, they said it was impossible. I made the test with them and they said they would only pay for new sensors, not for the damage the doors caused.”

With so many bitter stories to share about his Tesla experience, Chan said he likes the cars despite how the company treated him over these years. Local government incentives are also a strong reason for him to buy these EVs.

“In Hong Kong, any new car demands a 100 percent tax. Electric cars had no tax, so I bought the Model S and the Model X. Now we have to pay a 25-percent tax on EVs, which is still lower than with regular combustion-engined vehicles, but what will happen to the company when these incentives are over? Will people still want to buy cars that seem to come from a junkyard?”

As for the Model 3 he was not able to refuse, Chan said he paid for the EV but cannot use it. The Hong Kong Service Center said he would have to wait until mid-February to pick up his car. Only by then they would be able to fix some of the issues he spotted. His Model X is also at the Service Center, which left him pretty much on foot.

Have you had issues rejecting a Tesla delivery recently? Did you feel you were pushed to accept a defective car in any way? Please let us know more about that by any means.

Sources: Chris Tesla and Andrew Chan

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