Tesla Owners Complain of In-App Enhanced Autopilot Purchase Feature and Customer Service

UTC by Bhushan Akolkar · 3 min read
Tesla Owners Complain of In-App Enhanced Autopilot Purchase Feature and Customer Service
Photo: Depositphotos

Tesla has a great year with sales skyrocketing every quarter and demand hitting the roof. However, customers have been complaining of strange in-app purchases happening without their consent.

Tesla Inc (NASDAQ: TSLA) has been hitting the roof when it comes to its growth over the last year. The American electric car-maker has been smashing new revenue records every quarter making it the largest automobile company with a $400 billion market cap. Tesla stock has jumped over 350% year-to-date. However, Tesla owners are facing a new problem these days with the in-app enhanced autopilot software upgrade and customer service.

Ten days back, Dr. Ali Vaziri received a mobile alert with a surprise $4280 upgrade for his Tesla Model 3. However, the purchase wasn’t intentional and happened accidentally through “butt dial” as mentioned by Vaziri. Speaking to CNBC, he said:

“My phone was in my jeans. 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 said that he had linked his credit card to his Tesla account to pay a monthly subscription for “premium connectivity”. It was the same card that was billed for a $4000 upgrade on September 24. Tesla has recently introduced the enhanced autopilot feature.

The software upgrade brings features like automatic parking or lane changing and also an automatic navigation feature. Besides, it also has a “summon” features letting drivers step out of their vehicles and park their Tesla using a fob or the Tesla app.

Disappointed with Tesla Customer Service

However, Vaziri who’s a proud owner of his Tesla was disappointed by its customer services. Soon after the accidental purchase, Vaziri dialed Tesla’s customer service hotline. When Vaziri requested a refund, the customer service executive asked him to press the refund button on the app. To his surprise, there was no such button on the Tesla app.

All that the app showed was just some text and a button redirecting to the refund policy. Also, the confirmation email that Vaziri received after the purchase also had vague information. The email directed him to the Tesla support website and ultimately asked him to call the local service center.

Surprisingly, Vaziri is still waiting for his refund. Also, there’s no confirmation call or email from Tesla for his refund request. Ultimately, the only choice he had was to process a stop payment request with his credit card company. “The car has been great since I’ve had it. But this has been a nightmare. The customer service is horrendous,” Vaziri said.

Tesla’s History of Accidental Purchases

This hasn’t been the first time that a Tesla owner has complained about accidental in-app purchases. A similar case happened in early September 2020. Tesla Model 3 owner Stefen Peterson also complained about a $2000 butt-dial purchase for an acceleration boost.

However, Stefen’s query was solved soon later and the refund was initiated. Earlier this year, famous professor and author Nassim Nicholas Taleb had a bitter experience getting refund from Tesla.

However, CEO Elon Musk personally responded him saying the refunds usually happen easily electronically. Taleb confirmed receiving the refund later. However, he noted that “They initially refused. They refunded me after I raised hell on Twitter. Then I saw they did not refund others, I raised even more hell: my point was that public venues are there to correct public, not individual, grievances.”

Usually, in-app purchases require additional verification from the account holder. It seems that the Tesla app doesn’t have a robust security infrastructure in place.

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Bhushan Akolkar

Bhushan is a FinTech enthusiast and holds a good flair in understanding financial markets. His interest in economics and finance draw his attention towards the new emerging Blockchain Technology and Cryptocurrency markets. He is continuously in a learning process and keeps himself motivated by sharing his acquired knowledge. In free time he reads thriller fictions novels and sometimes explore his culinary skills.

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