Is Tesla being poached by an attorney capitalizing on its reputation and pumping up claims in order to make his case?
That was the implication made yesterday by Tesla Motors about the “King of Lemon Laws” Vince Megna who’s suing the EV maker over an allegedly defective Model S.
In a post titled, “When Life Gives You Lemons,” the California automaker fired back with reasons for doubt, saying it was caught by surprise, and has treated the Model S owner in question exceptionally well.
Tesla says it does believe in lemon laws, but essentially does not think this should be a lemon law suit.
“In this case, however, there are good reasons to be skeptical of the lawyer’s motivations,” wrote Tesla. “The service record shows that the Tesla service team did everything reasonably possible to help his client and they were continuing their efforts to service his vehicle right up until the point the suit was filed with no warning.”
On Monday, inflammatory accusations posted in a YouTube video by Megna began to make the rounds.
His self-promoting video laden with sarcasm and attempts at humor at Tesla’s expense documented a car in Wisconsin that he said was out of service for 66 days and fraught with issues.
This same attorney and same client also have a lemon law suit against Volvo, according to Tesla.
Tesla refuted several of Megna’s published statements.
“More tellingly, however, there are factual inaccuracies in the lawyer’s story,” wrote Tesla. “The customer did not make three demands for a buy-back. The only time any such claim was made was in a legal form letter sent to Tesla in November 2013 as a prerequisite for pursuing the claim in Wisconsin.”
Tesla said its service team had been in close contact with the car’s owner, Robert Montgomery, up to that moment. Up till then, Tesla service techs had replaced four door handles on the Model S under warranty even though they could not replicate a problem.
“Despite the fix, the customer said the problem persisted. We were never able to reproduce the alleged malfunction but offered to inspect the car again and are still trying to do so,” said Tesla.
The video posted by Megna clearly shows the problem. Touching the doors did not make them come out from their flush retracted positions until after a few tries – so they lag or are intermittently reliable, it appears. Or does it? Actually, after several failed attempts the car’s tail lights blink indicating someone with a the remote unlocked the car, and the doors worked instantly.
Beyond this, Tesla implied the Model S may have been tampered with in order to simulate defects and add to a claim. We’ll copy in the whole text to let Tesla tell its account in its own words:
Another issue was that the car’s fuse blew on three occasions. Each time, our engineers explored all possible explanations and were never able to find anything wrong with the car. Still, just to be sure, we replaced several parts that could have been related to the alleged problem – all at no expense to the customer. When the fuse kept blowing despite the new parts, and faced with no diagnosis showing anything wrong with the car, the engineers were moved to consider the possibility that the fuse had been tampered with. After investigating, they determined that the car’s front trunk had been opened immediately before the fuse failure on each of the three occasions. (The fuse is accessed through the front trunk.) Ultimately, Tesla service applied non-tamper tape to the fuse switch. From that point on, the fuse performed flawlessly.
Tesla said also the idea that a Model S is so fundamentally defective as to warrant a lemon law suit flies in the face of most other customers’ experiences, and a top-level customer satisfaction ratting, and accolades given by reputable publications.
“We are continuing our efforts to work with the customer and are happy to address any legitimate concerns he has about his Model S. Customer service remains of utmost importance to Tesla, and no Model S owner should be unhappy with their car,” said Tesla. “However, we would also like the public to be aware of the potential for lemon laws to be exploited by opportunistic lawyers.”