Man Clicks Strange Paddle in Father-in-Law’s Tesla; It Was a $14,100 Mistake: Report


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A Tesla is displayed at a New York City dealership on Jan. 30, 2020.

A Tesla is displayed at a New York City dealership on Jan. 30, 2020. (Spencer Platt / Getty Images)

 By C. Douglas Golden August 14, 2021 at 12:28pm

You know technology has reached a scary new level when car companies can upsell you on things you don’t want without a) a salesman or dealer being present, or b) your consent.

But Tesla buyers, beware: If you lend someone your car and they press the wrong paddle, you could end up being charged $14,186.25 for some very expensive options.

According to CarScoops, Dominic Preuss — a Twitter blue-check whose primary fame comes from his work as a “product geek” from Google — let his father-in-law borrow his Tesla Model 3. The trouble likely began, Preuss said, when his father-in-law pressed a shift paddle twice while driving.

If you’re familiar with Tesla, you know that the electric automaker is famous for its autopilot function, which steers the car for you and keeps it on cruise control. It’s an extra, however — although one you can activate remotely.

The cars also have what’s known as “Full Self-Driving Capability.” As CarScoops notes, it’s really nothing of the sort, but it gets somewhat closer to what it says it does than the autopilot mode does. It allows the car to navigate on autopilot, automatically change lanes, auto-park, summon the car and exercise control at traffic lights and stop signs.

These are pricey options, something Preuss reportedly found out the hard way.

“FYI. If you double click the shift panel twice and accidentally engage the auto-pilot in Model 3, @Tesla will automatically charge you $14100 if you didn’t previously purchase auto-pilot,” Preuss tweeted on July 27.

“No password prompt. No CC challenge. Just $14K on the CC on file.”

FYI. If you double click the shift panel twice and accidentally engage the auto-pilot in Model 3, @Tesla will automatically charge you $14100 if you didn’t previously purchase auto-pilot.

No password prompt. No CC challenge. Just $14K on the CC on file.

— Dominic Preuss 💉💉 (@deesix) July 27, 2021

In a follow-up tweet, Preuss said he still loves the car and that he got an email confirmation of the purchase. He was able to cancel it by going into the “manage upgrades” section of the car’s app management system, and he got a full refund.

“It’s possible my father-in-law triggered it another way,” he added.

Just to close the loop on this:

+ I love my Model 3

+ I got an email confirmation from Tesla that upgrades were purchased

+ It’s possible my father-in-law triggered it another way

+ I went into “manage upgrades” in the app and got a full refund ($14K) for both upgrades

— Dominic Preuss 💉💉 (@deesix) July 28, 2021

“This was an innocent mistake with a very surprising outcome that was quickly fixed (assuming my refunds land on my Amex bill) by Tesla,” he said in a further tweet.

Since a number of folks have asked, here is the upgrade costs from the app for my 2018 Model 3:

$3000 (Autopilot) + $10000 (FSD) + Tax = $14,186.25

(Confirmation – Tesla already credited my Amex w/ full amount) pic.twitter.com/mFvg5oLtTx

— Dominic Preuss 💉💉 (@deesix) July 29, 2021

The problem is that this isn’t unfamiliar territory for Tesla.

In June, TikToker “stayfitstaylit” said her 10-month-old accidentally purchased the $10,000 Full Self-Driving Capability package.

@stayfitstaylitWell our son decided we needed the self driving package we debated on before 🥲😬💀 #tesla #teslaworld #ohno #foryou #fyp♬ Oh No – Kreepa

As ScreenRant noted, stayfitstaylit’s situation was much dicier because she didn’t notice the purchase immediately.

“While people can get a refund after purchasing FSD for their Tesla, a refund request must be made within 48 hours,” the company reported in June.

“After 48 hours have passed, the upgrade remains permanent. Most people would likely notice $10,000 missing from their bank account pretty quickly, but if not, it appears an accidental purchase like this can happen relatively easily. The moral of the story? The Tesla app + kids is an expensive pairing waiting to happen.”

Or, it seems, the Tesla app plus your derriere.

According to CNBC, physician Dr. Ali Vaziri made news in September of 2020 when said he “butt dialed” a $4,280 autopilot upgrade through his iPhone Tesla app.

Would you consider buying a Tesla?

“My phone was in my jeans,” Vaziri told CNBC. “I took it out, put it on this charger that comes with your Tesla, and that’s it. A minute later? I got the text. I’ve never purchased anything through the Tesla app before.”

Vaziri said Tesla customer service tried to walk him through the refund process — except he said he couldn’t find the button. More of a runaround ensued. When the story was reported on Oct. 7, Vaziri had yet to get a refund.

And again … he wasn’t alone.

Elon @elonmusk, your Customer Support at Tesla is even worse than I claimed last time.

It is an insult to your customers. pic.twitter.com/3HZ2YSjigS

— Nassim Nicholas Taleb (@nntaleb) January 15, 2020

To be fair, Tesla co-founder and CEO Elon Musk promised intervention in the case of Nassim Nicholas Taleb, a professor and author who vented on Twitter about the trouble he had getting a refund from Tesla for an accidental purchase, according to CNBC.

Just saw this today. Tesla refunds in general should be easy to get electronically & certainly through customer service. Will he addressed.

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 15, 2020

Taleb told the outlet that he did finally get a full refund.

That said, the TikToker (“stayfitstaylit”) and the physician (Vaziri) are two Twitter blue-checkmarks. If this has happened to others — and one guesses it has — they likely wouldn’t find redress quite so easily.

Thus, here’s something to keep in mind if you buy a Tesla: That upselling dealer can follow you home, and you don’t even need to be present to buy some very expensive options. In some cases, reportedly, your 10-month-old can do it for you.

C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he’s written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.

C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he’s written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).

Birthplace

Morristown, New Jersey

Education

Catholic University of America

Languages Spoken

English, Spanish

Topics of Expertise

American Politics, World Politics, Culture

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