Let me start you off with a riddle: How do you open the door on a $100,000 car? The answer: well, it depends on where you live. This statement may seem ridiculous for owners that live/work close by a service center. However, if you live more than 25 Miles/KM from a service center, the answer has become much more expensive. Tesla has decided (suddenly and without notice) that they no longer offer valet service in many areas. And if they do, it will cost you. This is troubling for me, and many other Tesla owners, who were sold the car with this service guaranteed to us by Tesla literature and Tesla staff. More troubling has been the Tesla service approach of denying the existence of such service. Add to that, service staff insinuating that I must be confusing valet service with road-side assistance and, quite frankly, it borders on insulting. For my part, I'm quite sure that I wouldn't buy a $100,000 car with the knowledge it would cost me $546 every time it required warranty service! And that's because, my house is 200km (125 Miles) from the nearest service center. I'm far from alone in believing that the warranty valet service was part of the sales pitch. The owner blogs have numerous entries about it, such as: If You Live Far From A Service Station Your Cost Of Ownership Just Went Way Up Change of Policy on Tesla Ranger Service 3 mile ranger fee be informed (before) you buy You may be thinking; “C’mon, didn’t you check the literature on their website?!” Well…yes, I did. The entry titled "Creating the World’s Best Service and Warranty Program" from CEO, Elon Musk, dated April 23, 2013, still appears on the Tesla website. In this description of warranty and service offered by Tesla Motors, Musk includes a section titled "Valet Service" in which it states: "Your time is valuable and should not be spent driving to or waiting at our service centers. Tesla is putting in place a valet service, so that your car is seamlessly picked up and replaced with a loaner and then returned as soon as we are done. There is no additional charge for this." So now you're thinking; "Is that it? Did you base your $100,000 decision on this one statement?!" Well...no, but it would appear Tesla has removed other references to their warranty valet service. Luckily, I have access to a time machine. Come with me and step inside the Wayback Machine and let’s have a look at the Tesla Service site back in June of 2014 when I ordered my car...Oh! Look what I found: “21st Century Service.. . Many issues can be resolved remotely, but if your Model S does require in-person attention, you can bring it to a Tesla Service Center, or have your car picked up in exchange for a loaner at no charge with our valet service.” And... “Tesla Valet Service. Tesla is putting in place a valet service so that your car is seamlessly picked up and replaced with a loaner and then returned as soon as we are done. There is no additional charge for this.” Tesla appears to be whiffing their way down the value ladder to become every other car company. OK maybe a half-step above VW, but mostly on par with the likes of GM or Ford. In fact, the Tesla policy change has the same feel to it as the GM warranty plan in late 1980s. GM charged $100 deductible every time warranty work was required on the car. Then again, the GM policy was documented whereas Tesla promised valet service and then simply removed their valet service guarantees from their website and left owners wondering what they’ve paid for. Can you say Bait and Switch? "But wait", you say, “Certainly Tesla wouldn’t be looking to make money from service? They have repeatedly said that service is not meant to make money.” After all, Tesla has taken great pride in distinguishing themselves from every other car company. It is no secret that they have fought against the dealership networks that survive on making money from service. Well, consider this: In the US, they are now charging $3/Mile for valet service. Outside the US, where the metric system is prevalent, they are charging $3/KM for valet service. That’s a 60% surplus and disproportionate to the cost of transportation. It’s also an infinitely higher cost than the promise of free I was quoted at the time of purchase. So why do I feel compelled to tell you this? Well, I propagated the knowledge of this warranty valet service to potential owners, some of which went on to buy the vehicle. I've conducted numerous walk-throughs on the benefits of the car, which included Tesla service guarantees that I quoted from Tesla literature, Tesla sales staff and Tesla delivery experts. Heck, I even paid my own way into the local car show to stand by the Tesla booth for two and a half hours and talk up the Model S as an owner. So, yeah, I drank the kool-aid and was an all-in fanboy. What changed? Quite simply, I was lied to and feel duped. This may sound like nothing more than sour grapes, but the truth is Tesla has painted me into a financial corner. I believe Tesla has taken the long-view that owners will fall in line and accept this undocumented change in policy. This is, after all, the price of driving the future. The Tesla Model S is seen by many as a toy for the super-rich. For those owners, I would agree that it may be simple to shake their head at this undocumented change in policy and just hand over their credit card. There is, however, another class of Model S driver, the underclass if you will, that paid well more than they would normally pay for a vehicle. These owners took the long-view that, while having paid a huge sum of money for the Model S, their total expenses over a 5 or 8 year period would be mostly fixed given the low-cost to operate an electric vehicle and the supposed knowledge that Tesla would make warranty work seamless, even if a service center wasn’t in the immediate area. It is much harder to predict your costs given unexpected expenses for items that appeared would be covered under warranty. In my case, though, how many unexpected $546 charges would it take before my Tesla Model S became 'unmanageable'? Well, the short answer is 2. So there you have it, Tesla's long-view and the underclass of Model S owners' long-view stand in contrast. Tesla should consider that this underclass of Model S owners are the ones more often rubbing shoulders with and promoting Tesla to would-be Model III owners. You know, the upcoming model that has Tesla 'all-in' with its Nevada Gigafactory battery plant. I would have to suggest a serious rethink for anybody holding out for a Model III. In fact, to any prospective Tesla client, I couldn't recommend a purchase unless you live in close proximity to an existing service center. Even then, given Tesla's cavalier approach to changing policies that affect their clients' well-being, I would caution a high degree of skepticism when accepting information from Tesla. My strong recommendation would be: Get everything in explicit writing - just because it exists on the website, it could disappear at any point. Remember that sales people are still sales people MOST IMPORTANTLY: Do not buy a Tesla unless there is an existing service center in your immediate area For my part, I was told at the time of delivery that a Tesla service center was 12-18 months away for my city. That was 14 months ago and we are now further away from getting a Tesla presence than we were 14 months ago. As a member of the underclass who believes in the vision of Tesla, it's disheartening to have Tesla put this financial hardship on early-adopters. In my case, to the point I may need to sell the car at a substantial loss. Given this corner Tesla has painted me into, I'll close off by stepping through my options: Move my family to a city with a service center so I can get warranty service for FREE Sell the vehicle at a huge loss and replace with something that can be serviced in my city Tie a rope to function as my door handle and drive on By virtue of being the least bad, option 3 would be my choice. Incidentally, it is also the answer to the riddle. That's right, you open the door of a $100,000 car using a rope!