Tesla defied the traditional dealership method of selling cars. While buyers may appreciate that, they mightn’t appreciate the other way Tesla appears to be eschewing convention.
The buyer, identified as Alec B., purchased a used 2017 Model S from a third-party dealer, United Traders.
The original owner ticked the option boxes for Enhanced Autopilot and Full Self Driving Capability, which added US$8000 ($11,934) to the price.
According to Jalopnik, Tesla bought the car back from its original owner under California’s Lemon Law due to an issue with the touchscreen.
United Traders then bought it from Tesla at auction on 15 November 2019.
When the features didn’t work on Alec’s test drive the following month, the salesperson assumed it was a glitch that’d be rectified upon the next update so Alec went ahead and purchased the car.
In the interim, Tesla conducted a remote audit of the car in tandem with a software update and removed the two optional extras.
Their invoice for the work read, “AP was removed on 11/18/19 after it was found that the customer did not purchase the software.”
The job was even categorised under the heading “Correction: Remote – Education”.
The removal was bad news for Alec, whose purchase of the Model S was likely influenced by the presence of those two desirable options.
It was also puzzling as neither feature is a subscription feature, the buyer of a new Tesla instead paying a one-off charge for each item.
United Traders also received no advice from Tesla upon purchasing the car at auction that indicated the features would be removed.
Understandably, Alec was unimpressed and contacted Tesla. They advised, “Tesla has recent identified instances of customers being incorrectly configured for Autopilot versions that they did not pay for. Since, there was an audit done to correct these instances. Your vehicle is one of the vehicles that was incorrectly configured for Autopilot.”
“We looked back at your purchase history and unfortunately Full-Self Driving was not a feature that you had paid for. We apologise for the confusion. If you are still interested in having those additional features we can begin the process to purchase the upgrade.”
Alec then contacted Tesla’s used car department to enquire if he could purchase a Model S with the features equipped but have them deactivated for a credit, only to be told this wasn’t possible.
Jalopnik reports Alec’s complaint about disappearing features isn’t the only one from a used Tesla buyer, with various message boards featuring similar stories and even the United Traders salesperson's father-in-law experiencing the same issue.
We've contacted Tesla for comment.