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Tesla will apply 'brute force' to fight service delays, add 300 approved body shops

Pedestrians look at Tesla Motors Inc. vehicles displayed at the company's new showroom in San Francisco, California.
David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Pedestrians look at Tesla Motors Inc. vehicles displayed at the company's new showroom in San Francisco, California.

"Tesla owners will get the service they expect from us — period."

So wrote Tesla executive Jon McNeill in a post on the Tesla Motor Club forum on Friday, in response to concerns and complaints over service delays in certified third-party repair shops.

Tesla will add 300 approved body shops in the next few weeks, and will "eliminate" underperforming body shops, he wrote.

In addition, the company "will have individuals on our team personally manage each car on behalf of our customers that are in 3rd party body shops."

McNeill, who is Tesla's President of Global Sales and Service, included his post in a thread devoted to a discussion about a blog post written by former Tesla employee and Model S owner Evan Niu for The Motley Fool earlier this week.

Niu said in his post that his Tesla sat in a certified third-party body shop for seven months (and counting), due in part to delays in obtaining the parts needed for the job. Niu placed most of the blame for the problem in Tesla's lap, saying the incident had "profoundly shaken our faith in Tesla as a company and an investment."

Other outlets picked up the story, and detailed the problems and delays other Tesla owners say they have had.

McNeill said Tesla's service record in its own service centers is excellent — almost 20 percent of service jobs in the company's flagship Palo Alto shop are finished "before the customer can finish a cup of coffee."

And he said Tesla had found issues with delays in sending parts to some certified shops, but that the company addressed the issue — he wrote that Tesla has already reduced backlog in parts orders by 80 percent.

But he also said that problems persisted in some approved Tesla body shops (i.e., independently owned body shops authorized to repair Tesla cars) even after Tesla began addressing parts delays.

"Even though we reduced part wait times," he wrote, "we continued to dig into the body shop complaints. What we found was astounding — cars sat at body shops for weeks and sometimes months before the body shops took action and, more often than not, the body shops blaming Tesla for parts delays were the very shops that hadn't even ordered parts or started the repair.

"We are applying brute force to this immediately," he added.

He finished by urging customers to message him directly if they have problems with long waits for service, "and our team will advocate and manage your repair."

Here is the full text of McNeill's post:

Hi everyone –

This week, the service team hit a global customer service satisfaction record. The team has done a fantastic job on what we control currently: our own service centers. We're now turning our efforts on the centers we don't control: accident repairs in body shops.

The body shop in the OP article did not begin repairs on the car for three months and then ordered more than 90 parts and took over seven months to repair the car. Neither of those are indicators of competence. To top it off, they blamed their performance on Tesla. We know from complaints that the body shop experience needs to get a lot better – and fast.

What the service team has done so far is a roadmap of how we're going to fix the autobody experience. Wait times for appointments measured in hours and a handful of days currently. We're providing same-day service from the Bay Area to Oslo and everywhere in between. In fact, almost 20% of jobs in our flagship center in Palo Alto are handled before the customer can finish their cup of coffee (yes, you read that correctly).

Thankfully, only a handful of our owners experience accidents each year. Since customers schedule and interface with the body shops on their own, we're largely blind to the service pace.

Most of the customer complaints about body shops mentioned parts, so we focused on this issue. To date, we've reduced backlog by over 80%.

Even though we reduced part wait times, we continued to dig into the body shop complaints. What we found was astounding – cars sat at body shops for weeks and sometimes months before the body shops took action and, more often than not, the body shops blaming Tesla for parts delays were the very shops that hadn't even ordered parts or started the repair.

We are applying brute force to this immediately. We will have individuals on our team personally manage each car on behalf of our customers that are in 3rd party body shops.

We're also going to increase our approved shop count by 300 over the next few weeks as well as eliminating poor performing shops.

If you have an issue with a shop, please PM me directly and our team will advocate and manage your repair.

Tesla owners will get the service they expect from us – period.

Thanks to the entire service team for their commitment to setting the highest standard for service in the industry,

Jon

Watch: Bullish on Tesla, long term