From Simple to FUBAR and Back
In the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, my Model Y windshield caught a wayward object on I-4 on October 10, creating a crack. So, I scheduled replacement with Tesla Service Center in Eatonville, about five miles from my home. The earliest appointment they could give me was November 10, so I scheduled Merritt Island (about 65 miles from home) on October 28. (We had travel plans in November, so this would be more convenient). I contacted my insurance company to give them the details. They, in turn, gave me a number for Tesla to call where they could receive a guarantee of payment for service related to my claim.
A couple days before October 28, Merritt Island informed me that their glass guy wouldn’t be there on my service date, so they were rescheduling me to November 9. My wife and I had scheduled a drive to Chicago starting November 8, so I told the Service Center November 9 wouldn’t work. They then accommodated me by forcing me into the schedule on October 31. So far, so good.
Repair Day #1
My wife and I showed up on October 31 in separate cars. While the windshield was ostensibly being replaced, we enjoyed a day on the coast. At around 3:30, I got the notification that the repair was complete, and I could pay the $1200 through the app, which I did. I should note that Tesla does not accept insurance assignment, so you must pay and get an insurance reimbursement separately.
Moving right along, we get back there, wifey drops me off, I go to my car, and — SAME DAMN CRACKED WINDSHIELD. I went to the service desk who must have thought I was crazy — a guy ranting about a completed repair saying he wanted a refund because it wasn’t completed. I took them to the car and showed them so they could see it with their own two eyes.
What the Hell Happened?
Turns out that the glass guy broke the replacement windshield and told “someone” but “someone” did not communicate this to service. What? How the hell does THAT happen. So, we wasted a day on the coast. I would have to drive the damn thing to Chicago with a cracked windshield.
The service guy, Andy, asked me to give him ten minutes to make some calls. He first called the glass guy, who is a subcontractor, to find out exactly what the hell happened. Then, he called around to see if Eatonville had a Model Y windshield. They didn’t. He said he would definitely issue me a refund, for starters.
The service guy got the general manager. To calm me down, they told me they would schedule me for the repair upon my return and would definitely give me a loaner or rental so I wouldn’t need to worry about transport while I was carless and my wife would not suffer another day of inconvenience due to Tesla. They even offered me a loaner for the trip to Chicago, if I wanted to leave my car with them to be fixed in my absence. The service guy said to the manager, “But loaners are not supposed to go more than 200 miles.” The general manager said essentially, “You got to do what you got to do.”
I turned down the loaner offer, fearing that I would go up to Chicago, wreck it in the snow or have it riddled with machine gun bullets, and then find myself in a position of not being covered by insurance because I took it more than 200 miles. However, I give them lots of points for trying to unscrew what they screwed up. I settled on making a new appointment for November 16, a couple days after our planned return from Chicago.
November 16 Rolls Around…
On November 15, I used the app to communicate with the Merritt Island Service Center. My purpose was to ensure that everything would go smoothly this time and that the promise of a loaner would be fulfilled. The first response I got was a canned, automated message that loaners are only committed for repairs requiring 48 hours or longer, and then, only if they are available. I responded that they had committed the loaner or rental, and if they didn’t intend to fulfill that commitment, I would not show up. The response to that came from Andy, who said “if they committed that, then they would do it, but if it was a rental, it would be gasoline powered and I must pay for gas and tolls.” I said, “It was YOU who committed the loaner or rental, so I hope you’ll stand by the commitment. A rental is OK.”
So, with that in mind, I showed up an hour early for my appointment on November 16. I checked in with the general manager, who was doing service drive check-ins. He informed me that they might not get to the repair that day because of the backlog created by Hurricane Nicole, but I shouldn’t worry because he will give me $100 in Uber credits.
“No WAY!” I said. You were there when you and Andy promised me a loaner or a rental. You even said I could take it to Chicago. I’m not leaving my car with you unless you keep your promise.” Besides, at sixty-five miles from home, $100 in Uber credits would get me about as far as the St. Johns River.
He scratched his head for a while and asked, “Would you take a demo? I have a Model 3.”
I asked what the difference was between a demo and a loaner. He said, “None.” So, I agreed to take their Model 3 demo, which had only a few miles on it. (It would be well broken in by the time I gave it back, though, albeit with no Chicago bullet holes). To his credit, the manager did all he could have done, repeatedly stating that he wanted me to make me happy. Lots of improvisation points awarded for salvaging a completely screwed-up situation.
The service promise was for completion by 4 PM on November 17. I had their car, and if they wanted it back, they better get ‘er done!
I watched the app at intervals on November 17. Most of the day, the status of the service was shown as “Preparing”. Finally, around 2:30, the status bars went green, signifying completion of the repair. OMG OMG. I figured I would hop in the Model 3 demo and drive over to Merritt Island to finalize this sordid affair.
I arrived there around 3:30 and saw my car in the lot. So, I walked over to verify that the repair had been completed. It had been and looked good. The repair tech even tried to move my HOA decal from the old windshield to the new one. It was a mess, but I give him credit for trying to do a complete job. A length of black masking tape secured the passenger side of the windshield. I decided to let it be until I got home. That way, if the windshield were to fall out, it would happen in the safety of my own garage.
Assuming that the invoice would have been made ready in the hour or so it took to drive over there, I checked the app and found that it still said, “Invoice being prepared.” So I went inside to the service desk and asked for it to be finalized. I told the guy behind the desk that I had his demo, and I would give him the key when I got mine. He said, “They were asking where that demo was.” He prepared my invoice and we exchanged keys. I asked for a copy of the invoice to submit to insurance in case anything got screwed up with the app.
Minor Tweak Needed
Driving home, I noticed that when autopilot was engaged, the car would be positioned along the left side of the lane it was in. Damn! They didn’t recalibrate the cameras. So, I pulled over and initiated the recalibration myself. That was the only minor glitch.
Lots of aggravation for a simple repair, but I give the guys over there, particularly the manager, credit for trying to keep me happy. I’m a miserable old curmudgeon, so making me happy is an admirable, albeit nearly impossible, goal.
I also must say that Hurricane Nicole was obviously beyond their control. To complicate matters for them, when power went out due to downed electrical lines in the area, the out-of-town line crews screwed up reconnected the transformer, causing it to blow up and start an electrical fire at the Service Center. The impetus to get power restored quickly in the storm’s aftermath precluded quality control inspections and re-inspections before energizing the circuit. The out-of-town guys had made the connections the way they did it back home, which was not the way it is done here. So, what I am saying is that the Merritt Island Service Center had some significant issues that must be taken into account. However, no excuses are acceptable for the initial screw-up and lack of communication.
Nevertheless, hoping that the compound FUBAR was a unique event and based on the attempted mitigation, which turned out quite satisfactory, I will likely use this service center again.