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Tesla’s Service May Not Be Perfect, But It Is Still Far Better Than The “Competition”

Tesla has long been criticized for service that lags behind the company’s exponential growth in sales, but the reality of the situation is significantly more optimistic. In reality, Tesla continues to innovate, even in a challenging area like service, delivering an experience that bests the competition.

Tesla has long been criticized for service that lags behind the company’s exponential growth in sales, but the reality of the situation is significantly more optimistic. In reality, Tesla continues to innovate, even in a challenging area like service, delivering an experience that bests the competition.

Thanks to a recent update, service requests for both service centers and mobile service can now be requested through the Tesla app, saving owners a few minutes per service request. These requests come in the language millennials and the tech-literate are familiar with. It’s even easier to create than a text message, and with pre-defined requests for the most common service requests from an app that all owners already have installed and set up, it is as easy as it gets.

Once the service request has been created, a ticket is routed to either the nearest service center or the service center supporting the mobile service team covering the area where the vehicle is located.

My Tesla Model 3 had an issue with the driver’s side door not latching every time it was closed, which is clearly an issue Tesla is aware of already. When I first put the ticket in, the ability to request mobile service was not an option from the app, so I created the ticket at my local service center in the hopes that it could and would be re-routed to a mobile service team. A few minutes later, I received a text from the service center that the parts had been ordered.

Image credit: Kyle Field | CleanTechnica

A few days after creating the request in the app, I received another, less encouraging text informing me that the parts needed for my repair were not at the service center yet and that my appointment would need to be rescheduled. They automatically rescheduled it for me and the new date and time showed up in the app.

Image credit: Kyle Field | CleanTechnica

Several days after this, I received notification that the parts were again delayed, but my appointment was not rescheduled. The specific issue I was struggling with resulted in the door not actually latching closed perhaps once out of every 8 or 10 times I closed it. Annoying, but not critical.

Because the appointment was not rescheduled and it was not a critical issue, I simply let the appointment lapse. Ideally, Tesla would have automatically rescheduled the appointment, as they had done the previous time, but instead, it simply expired. The next time my door didn’t latch correctly on the first try, I remembered and put in a new ticket. This time, there was an option in the app to select mobile service, which I gladly did. As an aside, this is just one example of the many smartphone app updates and in-car software updates Tesla makes just about every two weeks. Not all of them are as impactful, but there always seem to be new bits of functionality added to the overall Tesla experience all the time.

A few short days after I put my mobile service ticket in, it was time for my mobile service appointment. I had been given a window of time from 8:30–10:30am for my mobile service appointment to begin. At 9:00am, the mobile service tech texted me to share that he would be arriving around 10:00am. That’s a nice courtesy compared to many mobile service providers that give both a longer window for service and no notification.

Around 10:00am, the technician arrived and started working on the car. The service itself was performed very quickly, as the technician changed out an electromechanical actuator in the door. The task required the interior door panel to be removed and some parts to be changed out. On my end, it required little more than opening the garage door and a few questions about what the technician would be doing. On the other end of the appointment, the technician was extremely professional and informed me that the work had been done under warranty and nothing was due.

Image credit: Kyle Field | CleanTechnica

The day after the repair was made, the Tesla service center where I had originally made a service appointment called me to inform me that the parts for my repair had arrived. In turn, I shared that the repair had been made by the mobile service team the day prior and that the original service request had timed out.

It was not a major miss, but highlights the minor chaos that rules many of Tesla’s processes across service, sales, delivery, and beyond. The pace of change at Tesla is unprecedented in any other modern industry. In an automotive company, it is not only unprecedented, it is outright astounding that Tesla is able to keep its head above water as it chases the next service backend innovation, like an app change that adds a completely new service channel, a new parts ordering system that routes parts directly to service centers instead of to a giant warehouse in Fremont, or an entirely new vehicle arriving in just a handful of months.

Image credit: Kyle Field | CleanTechnica

How does Tesla’s service compare to legacy automakers? It’s far better to the point of making them a joke. It is extremely easy for me to request service from the app I already use regularly, it takes far less time than a phone call, and it requires significantly less effort. The text updates represent another incremental improvement over every other automotive dealership I’ve worked with on previous repairs.

From the first service request to the door being fixed took just under one month. In the meantime, it was handled through two different service channels (service center and mobile service) and one major improvement was made to the overall service process (being able to request mobile service from the app).

The total process required maybe 30 minutes of my time. That alone is a huge differentiator. Coincidentally, my wife had her Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric drive in the shop on exactly the same day for a single service item that was prescheduled, and she still has the loaner C-Class gasmobile that was given to her, with another 10 days to wait until the parts they realized were needed will be in.

I’ll take the Tesla experience over the Mercedes-Benz experience, thank you very much. That is not just me as a journalist or Tesla enthusiast speaking — that’s me as a customer and a very normal guy who likes to have his car at home or on the road rather than in the shop. May your mileage vary and may it be all electric.

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I'm a tech geek passionately in search of actionable ways to reduce the negative impact my life has on the planet, save money and reduce stress. Live intentionally, make conscious decisions, love more, act responsibly, play. The more you know, the less you need. As an activist investor, Kyle owns long term holdings in Tesla, Lightning eMotors, Arcimoto, and SolarEdge.


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