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A sad tale of how not to sell cars (???)...

Discussion in 'Model S: Ordering, Production, Delivery' started by cardriver, Jan 14, 2013.

  1. cardriver

    cardriver Member

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    So the wife gets a new job, decides with the bonus, she'll buy a new car. Her brother just bought a Panamera, and she has decided that is the car.

    On the way to the Porsche dealer, I talk her into stopping by Tesla - being very aware of the car, I think in the $90K range, it would fit perfectly - she doesn't want to stop, she's sure about the Panamera. I get her to stop by Tesla. We meet a nice guy who gives us a tour around the car - the more she hears, the more she's clearly liking it. I explain we are getting a Panamera - but really like this Tesla. He gets coworker to give us a quick drive as passengers around Fashion Island. Very nice knowledgeable guy who explains everything you would want to know about the thing. After the 5 minute ride, she now REALLY likes the car. We thank him, and head out to Porsche.

    At Porsche, we get a great tour of it's features etc - then she drives it. Afterwards, she says she didn't like the feel/drive-but liked the Tesla.

    Next day, we go to CARMAX - just because they had 3 Panameras on the lot - and it would give her another shot at the Panamera (which I was pulling for). Drove it a few miles, and again said she didn't like the ride.

    Now for the "how not to sell cars" part.

    We have 1.5 hours to kill - so I call Tesla to figure out the logistics. The girl who answers starts talking about the car, I quickly explain our experience the day before, and with the Porsche - she says come on down. I tell her we need to schedule a test drive (which we were told before could be done) - she cuts me off and says 'woe' - you can't drive the car. My wife says "what????" listening in on our conversation... She goes on to say we can put down $5K, then maybe in 2 months we will get a call to schedule a drive when we formally order the car. She goes on to say that there are too many people who want to drive the car that have already put down deposits (???)... Wife goes "that's crazy" - I was ready to put down any amount, and order the car - lets go to Lexus.

    So off to Lexus we go - she sees a ES300 hybrid, looks at it, gets a quick test drive - coming from the Porsche, this thing rides amazing, it's quiet, it's comfortable - it's green (40MPG) - she really likes it.

    So we go from $88K Porsche, to $88K Tesla, to $48K Lexus. We were going to buy something this weekend - she would have waited the 6 months for a 80kW Tesla - but now that's out, and now I'm trying to talk her into an XJ Jag...

    Bottom line, I know there's a line of people wanting to drive who have put down deposits. She would have only needed 5 minutes in the car to verify what we saw as passengers - it was a slam dunk - Tesla shareholders need these slam dunks - not deposit holder drives. 5 minutes for $90K seems like a no brainer in the big scheme of things... The other intangible - my wife works in a VERY high net worth world - there's no telling how many more Tesla's could have been sold...
     
  2. PRJIM

    PRJIM Member

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    Here is what George Blankenship (VP Of Sales and Ownership) had to say on this issue:

    Tesla Store Experience - Page 3


    Sadly, it is Tesla policy not to give test drives to individuals who do not have deposits on the car.
     
  3. ToddRLockwood

    ToddRLockwood Active Member

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    #3 ToddRLockwood, Jan 14, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2013
    This is an unfortunate tale. I hope GeorgeB gets to read it. It's a tricky business dealing in cars at this level. Ferrari dealerships have been dealing with this for years. A young rock star or dot-com genius walks in without an appointment, and to a salesman he/she looks like a dreamer, not a buyer. It's a little trickier with Ferraris because dealers generally don't have demonstrator cars. They have to use actual inventory for test drives.

    Tesla has been using the $5K deposit as a measure of how likely you are to be a buyer. Given that the deposit is 100% refundable, Tesla must feel that it's not asking too much.

    Perhaps Tesla could simply require that a test drive is set up in advance. Showing up for the test drive at the appointed time might show enough due diligence to weed out the dreamers.
     
  4. Babylonfive

    Babylonfive Power12

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    I don't see how they can't do both. Catch up on test drives for res holders (I would think this was already done), then entertain test drives from new folks. Perhaps this situation is a specific state where Tesla can't act as a dealer.

    In any case, it's a sad story.
     
  5. AnOutsider

    AnOutsider S532 # XS27

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    If they had time to give a ride, why not time to get a drive? With more cars out there now, I figured this would be changing. It's unfortunate since it comes across a bit snobbish and like a hard sales pitch.
     
  6. Trnsl8r

    Trnsl8r Blue 85kwh since 12/8/12

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    Indeed.

    I thought I had heard they started giving test drives to prospective reservation holders last month or earlier? Of course I'm Tesla's home territory, but Orange County shouldn't be that far behind. Anyway, could definitely had been handled better, even a gentle "would you mind putting down a deposit before the drive?" could have given this story a different ending. (Well, it doesn't sound like it has an end... yet..?)
     
  7. mnx

    mnx 2013 P85

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    I don't think the 5k was the hurdle here... The problem is that they were told they could have a test drive in a couple months!

     
  8. dsm363

    dsm363 Roadster + Sig Model S

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    They should set aside most of the times just for reservation holders but leave a few slots open for people with genuine interest in Tesla.
     
  9. Zythryn

    Zythryn MS 70D, MX 90D

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    I agree it would, and will be nice when Tesla can offer test drives to anyone.
    However, I also don't want people deciding to buy a Tesla, or any other BEV in an afternoon. I want everyone considering a Tesla to be well educated about the differences with an EV and to have considered it carefully.
    I would hate for anyone to spontaneously decide to buy a Model S and then get buyers remorse because it didn't meet their expectations.
     
  10. jhs_7645

    jhs_7645 VIN: #3305

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    I say put down the $5k and schedule an appointment immediately to test drive the car. I know she said two months or whatever, but that's not reality. They should allow you to test drive the car the instant you become a reservationist. I understand it's odd and inconvenient and not the way other dealerships work, but that's what the entire ownership experience will be anyway, so you should get used to that. If buying new technology from a start up car company trying to change the world doesn't make you want to go through a couple extra hoops, then perhaps this isn't the right car for you.

    I do think/hope that in a number of years (Gen III?) the purchasing/owning experience will be more typical, but right now it is anything but.
     
  11. Todd Burch

    Todd Burch Electron Pilot

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    George (or whomever is responsible for this decision) is wrong on this one. That's just foolish, unless the demo cars are being driven all day long. I doubt they are. If they are, and sales are being lost because of this policy, then produce a few more demo cars and put them in stores. Really. What Tesla's doing is just completely foolish.

    EVERYONE with a reservation has had the opportunity to test drive. If they haven't been able to yet, that's not Tesla's problem, and they shouldn't be sacrificing sales because of it. (REALLY?!??!? That's ridiculous.)

    I'm sure everyone with a reservation wants Tesla to survive as a company, so they can be around in a few years to service the car. I just don't see the "damned if you do" part.

    At the very least, Tesla should've taken your information down and scheduled you at the first available slot where the car would be sitting idle.
     
  12. Stephen4

    Stephen4 Member

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    +1 Just what Todd said!
     
  13. mark

    mark Member

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    There has to be a way to limit those who want to test drive for the fun of it and have no real interest in buying. Can you imagine how many folks would line up for a test drive even if the could never afford one? I agree that once a reservation is made, a test drive should be available quickly (within a week).
     
  14. SuperCoug

    SuperCoug Model S Res #7734

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    +1 Absolutely.

    I see this as a major issue as they ramp up production and need to find lots of new buyers not only this year but 20,000 more each and every year thereafter. After the initial surge of knowledgeable Tesla fans are served this first year or so most people in the general population will probably not to be willing to put down $5,000 to simply get a test drive. I thinking about somebody like my father who just bought a Porsche 911. To a traditional car buyer like him it would feel like being asked to buy a TV before you've even seen the picture (while being reassured that it's a risk free venture because the price is fully refundable). While it might indeed be risk free it is also a hassle and it will feel like a big commitment for someone simply trying to assess the vehicle.

    I think the current system will no longer work when the backlog is taken care of and the time from order to delivery is 2-3 months because the "refundable period" for the reservation could be very short. Basically, you will be given the chance to lock in a configuration very quickly after placing the reservation if there are not thousands of cars ahead of you in the queue.
     
  15. stevezzzz

    stevezzzz R;SigS;P85D;SigX

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    Well, to keep things in perspective, that quote from GeorgeB is a few months old. Still, I find it perplexing that test drive scheduling remains so restrictive. That's got to change, and the sooner, the better.

    Hey, here's an idea (all considerations of insurance and liability aside): current S owners could volunteer their time and their cars to give occasional test drives to 'qualified' prospective buyers referred by the local store. It wouldn't be for everyone and you'd have to be able to say yea or nay for any reason when the store called to see if you could do one, but some number of folks surely have the time and the inclination to help preserve their investment by providing this service. Yeah, it's probably unworkable for a whole host of reasons, but we're used to thinking outside the box: we're Tesla owners. :wink:
     
  16. Todd Burch

    Todd Burch Electron Pilot

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    (Todd's hand goes up). Pick me! I'll do it for a nominal commission!
     
  17. PRJIM

    PRJIM Member

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    According to GeorgeB's post, test drives are given to people who are ready to put down a deposit but "the only thing standing in their way is a test drive." It seems as if the employee who denied cardriver and his wife a test drive misspoke? I have experienced a similar type of snobbery as well at some stores. It seems as if at times Tesla retail store employees feel as if they are doing you a favor by allowing you to purchase a vehicle. I bet this is regional, Southern California stores get a lot of foot traffic and it is hard for employees to determine who is for real and who are just lookers. Regardless, this is very un-Apple store like.
     
  18. andrewket

    andrewket 2014 S P85DL, 2016 X P90DL (soon 100)

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    A few data points on this topic-

    I have an S reservation (X too, but I doubt they look at that.) I emailed the DC store on Friday and asked if I could come at noon on Saturday for a test drive. I received a reply within an hour confirming the time. Both my wife and I were able to drive the car. The Tesla rep/store manager (Julie) was great. She ended up spending 90 minutes with us. There were several other sets of people in and out during the 90 minutes I was there, and I saw at least 3 other test drives. Julie mentioned that during the week they are far less busy.

    It might be a bad comparison - Cali to DC. But from what I saw over the weekend, it shouldn't take "2 months" to get a test drive.

    A
     
  19. Zextraterrestrial

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    i'd let someone drive mine if they were serious about buying one. she's amazing
     
  20. GlennAlanBerry

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    At least at the Park Meadows Mall Tesla Store (south of Denver), they are pretty flexible about letting people who seem to have a genuine interest in a Tesla have a test drive before they put down a deposit. That was what I was able to do with no problem whatsoever about six weeks ago. After the test drive, I immediately forked over $5K and made a reservation. Reservation holders get priority (as they should), but it is usually possible to get a test drive without one, although you might have to wait a little bit.

    I would say that most people who are seriously looking at a Tesla (and can actually afford one) can probably come up with the $5K to make a reservation. You can always just cancel the reservation and get the deposit back if you really don't like it after the reservation.

    Long-term, with Gen III, Tesla will probably need to modify this policy and/or have more demo vehicles available to avoid this issue as they try to go more mainstream. They also will need to improve the delivery and communication process compared to where it is now.
     

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