Once again, I tiptoed into the world of Tesla

The Daisy. Photo by Kit Flynn.


By Kit Flynn

I never thought I would miss car salesmen, but recently, Tesla had me pining for one. I realize that this is meant to be a gardening column however for the last ten days my brain has been filled with Tesla minutiae rather than with garden details. Fortunately, after a lot of frustration, there is a happy ending.

As most people have heard, dealing with Tesla means dealing with the Tesla App. Tesla, unlike any other car company in the world, is allergic to human contact. This also involves buying a Tesla and trading one in – and in my case, this proved to be an unnerving process.

In the middle of 2022, in the midst of the pandemic, I managed to buy a Tesla 3, waiting three months for it to materialize. I thought that, quite possibly, this would be my almost-final car. Buying it was a headache, which I have already described earlier in a previous column.

Now, let me say this: I love driving an electric car, and I savored my Tesla, nicknamed “The Josy” after my first dog. There were some roadblocks to be sure. When my power cable began refusing to power The Josy, I lost my cool. My problem lay in the fact that I had omitted to introduce the power cable to the Internet: Who knew that an electric power cable needed to communicate via the Internet?

After two weeks of talking to help on the telephone, necessitating many calls as the Internet insisted on dropping my call throughout the many steps of attaching the cable to the Internet, I finally succeeded. From then on, I happily powered The Josy to my heart’s content.

However, one insurmountable problem remained: The Josy was simply too low to the ground. Getting in and (especially) out of it took some effort, a fact that doesn’t dismay much of the car-buying public that is (in my eyes) dangerously young.

Proudly, I’m a member of the Silent Generation – with this one constant: It would never get easier getting out of The Josy. Consequently, with the surging stock market, the strong economy, and the reduction in the price of Teslas, I determined that the solution to my problem was to purchase a Tesla Y, which is the height of a normal car.

This time, I knew to head straight for the Tesla App. I determined that I wanted a Y that had an extended range, as this gave me four-wheel drive. Because I’m acutely aware that I am invisible to a vast percentage of the population, I determined that the car had to be red to enable others to see (and perhaps admire) it.

Then I came across the instant tax rebate section of the application with the government warning that if I claimed it and my income managed to grow miraculously, I would end up owing the government money. Yes, I did the senior citizen dodge: With visions of the IRS hounding me, I got scared; who wants the government to threaten them with fines?

After I glossed over the tax rebate section, the app asked whether I was interested in a trade-in. Already having an estimate from Carvana, I indicated to Tesla that I was open to a trade-in only to be ordered to take a myriad of photos of The Josy. With my photos in its clutches, the Tesla App robot replied that my photos were not of high enough definition, leaving me to throw up my hands in disgust – after all, I had the Carvana estimate in my pocket. I clicked on the “buy now” button – and Tesla gave me only three days to finalize the details before picking it up.

Now understand that buying a Tesla outright does not involve the normal ways to purchase a car: credit cards and personal checks are strictly prohibited. I drove down to Tesla and threw myself at the mercy of a Tesla expeditor – remember, Tesla is allergic to car salesmen.

And this is where the story takes a happy turn. The company expected me to purchase it that day, but I explained I couldn’t. I offered to write a personal check and wait until it had cleared, an action I thought was logical, only to be told that Tesla does not accept personal checks, even ones that have cleared.

Then we talked about the problems with my photos, and Shon (the Tesla expeditor) generously offered to take the required photos herself and expedite the trade-in offer. Tesla would only give me a two-day extension if I wanted to buy the Y; I reminded her that I had to wait three months for the arrival of The Josy and the parking lot was now filled with a massive number of Teslas for sale, but here Tesla was obdurate, and I, a proud member of the Silent Generation, simply caved in.

The trade-in offer appeared on my Tesla App later that day, one that I quickly accepted it as it was higher than the Carvana one, and Tesla then gave me the revised amount I now owed. The bank wired the money to Wells Fargo in San Francisco, and Shon, who had warned me that it could take up to three days to have it nestled into Tesla’s account, managed to speed up that process.

Two days later, Shon (who was on the lookout for me) guided me through the purchase and transfer while switching the license plate from The Josy to The Daisy (named after a beloved Airedale). I then grandly entered The Daisy and drove her back to Chapel Hill.

Shon warned me that for some unaccountable reason, I had to keep The Josy on my insurance plan until I received the official registration for The Daisy from the State (which takes about a month). Now, in my elderly brain, this is what doesn’t add up: Why do I have to keep insurance on The Josy when I no longer own her?

The moral of this story if you are interested in buying a Tesla, is this: Be sure to ask for Shon, who is a real person. As for the tax rebate, I’m doing what any member of my generation would do: handing it over to my accountant.

After being an active member of the Durham County Extension Master Gardeners for 13 years, Kit Flynn now holds emeritus status. For five years she was the gardening correspondent for “Senior Correspondent” and shared “The Absentee Gardener” column with fellow Master Gardener Lise Jenkins. She has given numerous presentations on various gardening topics to Triangle organizations and can be reached at howyourgardengrows@icloud.com.
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