I love the Model S, and someday anticipate jumping in (next year maybe), but really feel the pain I read about on here. I've been following the forum here and on TM and have put together a story. My focus is to get the attention of George and Elon and get them on your side. Comments welcome.
There is a story to be told regarding the Tesla Motor Company and its reservation holders. There's a lot of anxiety and angst regarding deliveries of these very fine cars. Many reservation holders are not getting communication from the company regarding delivery of their vehicles, how and why the deliveries are occurring, and feel they are being ignored while more stores open and more reservations are being taken. Some have even cancelled or are actively offering their reservation slots.
Model S Signature Edition cars were sold to (approx) 1200 lucky enthusiasts as early as 3 ½ years ago. The Sig (that's what they commonly refer their status) reservation holders paid $40,000 instead of the $5,000 required now. Many of them are Tesla Roadster owners who believe in the brand. For the $40,000 deposit, they were promised to be placed ahead of the line to receive their EV. Each has a reservation number (from 1 up to 1200). All Model S Sigs were promised to be delivered before the Production Model S are delivered.
Telsa Motors has a Forum where reservation holders share information regarding the car, updated information gleaned from speaking with different customer service representatives, and lending their opinion to common questions. Going one step further, future owners created their own Forum at teslamotorsclub.com where unrestricted or monitored discussions can happen freely. Going through the forums, it's very evident the future owners are getting increasingly upset, frustrated, and in some cases have given up.
They all thought the deliveries were going to be in order, but that's where much frustration is being caused. While Tesla has ramped up production, deliveries are slow and very sporadic. Early reservation holders are watching delivery dates come in for reservation number 1000+ yet have no date for many <#300. Just today, a reservation holder #1207 got his delivery notice, but <200 are still waiting by the phone.
Several issues could be the reasoning:
1. Batching by the factory: When an automaker has a limited production line they batch at different parts of the production line. Paint can put more bodies out if they painted all red one day, white the next day, and black the next, allowing for their area to produce more. Different interior options could batch by black Interior seating, then tan, etc. Naturally, the production will be out of sequence and VIN numbers have reflected this. SOLUTION: Communicate with the future owners your process, they will understand!!
2. Batching by deliveries: There are numerous locations to ship vehicles to. So many in the New York area, so many to Florida, so many to Oregon, etc. To be cost effective, shipping on a trailer truck will need 5-9 vehicles per load. While Sig reservation holders sporadically jumped in, it would make sense that reservation #63, 180, 540 and 825 could all be on the same truck. It also would make sense to build these vehicles together to get the full shipment out. SOLUTION: Communicate with owners the delivery will be including other cars with the same destination, they will understand!!
3. Date the order was finalized: Sig reservation holders were contacted with a finalization order (specify color, interior, trim package, wheels, etc). They had 30 days to complete the order or they would be delayed day for day in the production line. That seems to be inconsistent with the actual deliveries as well. SOLUTION: Communicate where they will be in the production line, they will understand!!!
4. Defects found by the plant or management that were sent back through the line. SOLUTION: Communicate the delay and assure them the product will be delivered flawless, they will understand!!!!
The above is only a summation, collectively pulled together by the forum users, because Tesla has not communicated any of this to its earliest customers. Frustration continues to mount as reports come in from those lucky to get their car and post pictures, blog on their experiences, and answer questions of those still waiting. Many blame George Blankenship, Tesla's VP for Sales and Ownership Experience for not answering the multitudes of questions. For many, the only contact point is a Delivery Expert assigned to them (who don't have the access to answer a lot of questions) or a local store Tesla employee, or, the company blog (not much there). Communication within the company is sporadic as well since several perspective owners reported getting differing answers from those employees. Overall, the customer service at the stores is great before you buy, but flat for those already into it and waiting.
Add to this a service plan that came out recently telling all the owners it will be an additional $600/year (or $1900 for a 4 year plan) that is REQUIRED to be performed by TESLA or the warranty is void (no more backyard mechanics). Add to that Sig #1217 will be delivered around the same time as #105 (kinda depressing for that low number person seeing all those other deliveries). Add that reservation #884 has a VIN ending in 213 (those looking for the resale and prestige of a low-VIN vehicle)! This all equals too much for a lot of the faithful that have anxiously waited. Early Model X (due out in 2014) reservation holders are considering canceling due to their experience waiting for the Model S.
Tesla reservations have passed 16,000 world-wide for the Model S (according to online users). How many of those were deferred or cancelled due to the customer service and communications issues? How many more will cancel when they find out what the Forum Users already know?
Tesla, stop peddling your cars in Europe and announcing more stores, and talk to those who will matter the most. Elon, SpaceX only has a couple customers you have to keep happy, but if you want to sell cars, that customer service needs to ramp up more than your production numbers.