The Trials and Tribulations of Purchasing a Tesla

The author’s pursuit of this Tesla makes for an interesting column. Photo by Kit Flynn.


By Kit Flynn

Editor’s note: The Local Reporter’s maven of marvelous garden things has gone “Environ-Mental” to own this hot-looking honey of a car, pictured above. She may well be saving the planet, and thereby, her garden. Her sanity, maybe not so much.

Two years ago, after returning from a visit with my son and daughter-in-law—proud owners of a Tesla—I determined that all I wanted for Christmas was a Tesla. Now, in the thirty years I have resided in the Triangle, I have unaccountably purchased nine cars, so I’m not totally ignorant in the nuances of buying a new car.

Tesla almost defeated me.

I took myself down to Raleigh (unannounced) to look over the car, a not unreasonable quest in my mind, only to be met with total indifference. Tesla-ites (as I call them) were floating around doing nothing, but when I approached them, they all had the same response: “I’m not authorized to demonstrate the car to you.” Apparently only one person on the premises had this authorization—and he was busy doing something.

Finally, someone opened the car door (Teslas open differently), had me sit in the car, gave me permission to drive the car around the neighborhood. Now, I didn’t even know how to open the car door, much less drive it. When I asked if the Tesla-ite could accompany me, I heard, “Sorry, I’m not authorized.”

Turned off, I quickly returned home, vowing to never buy a Tesla, while putting this weird episode out of my mind. However, another trip to visit my son quickly disabused me of this vow. Riding in their Tesla was a great experience. The urge to “go electric” came raging back.

Fortunately, my hairdresser had a Tesla, so he walked me through several steps. First, you never go to the Tesla showroom, which really isn’t a showroom. Second, you don’t test drive a Tesla; you order a Tesla online and then download the Tesla app. Any questions you may have receive this response: Go to the app. Third, always remember that a Tesla-ite doesn’t want to communicate with you.

Ordering a Tesla truly is easy. There are five colors (the basic black, basic white, red, blue, and gray). Anything other than the two basic colors will come with a $2,000 price tag. I, being “a woman of a certain age,” opted for red but went with the basic wheel configuration as I felt I’d spent my wad. I bought the power connector, which arrived almost immediately, and then sat around waiting for my car, a process that took four months.

I extended the 220 electric line out to my carport, connecting the power connector to it. The app told me when to (approximately) expect the car—this date kept on jiggling around between September and October.

The day came when I received an e-mail stating that my red beauty was arriving in four days so I should pay for it ahead of time, something that I was more than willing to do except the question “how?” kept on raising its ugly head. Tesla doesn’t accept personal checks (the method I’d used to purchase nine cars in the past) or credit cards. As my bank is located in Washington, DC, a cashier check was out of the question while the Tesla system called PLAID didn’t recognize my bank (one of the largest in the nation), which meant I couldn’t authorize Tesla to take the money from my account.

Now, the only way a prospective buyer can communicate with a Tesla-ite is through e-mail. You cannot even text as there is no phone number available. The only way I could pay Tesla was having my bank wire the money to Tesla—but my bankers said they needed Tesla to confirm that it had arrived.

The reluctance of any Tesla-ite to communicate is rather discombobulating as, in my experience, car salesmen generally want to sell cars. The day before I was to buy the car, we seemed to be at an impasse. I’d received one e-mail stating that I had done everything required, except to pay for the car. I, in desperation, declared that my bankers needed to know where to send the money and required confirmation that it had arrived. The response was “Look on the Tesla app”—advice that was not well-received as my Tesla app contained no such information.

Finally, after frantic e-mails on my part, someone took pity on me, called my bankers, and even confirmed that the money had reached its destination. The only thing left to do was to pick up the car the next day.

A friend drove me to Tesla, promising me that she would follow me home—remember, I had never even test driven this car, so the thought of getting onto I-540 and then merging on to I-40 was a trifle unnerving. The parking lot was filled to overflowing with Teslas; fortunately, my friend had a handicap sticker as that was literally the only empty space available to park her car.

We went inside only to find there were customers floating around with no one to wait on them. Finally, a door opened, a Tesla-ite fleetingly emerged. I tackled him, announcing that I had an 11:00 AM appointment to pick up my car and that it was 11:00 AM. He replied that he had to find the Tesla-ite assigned to me, and find her, he did.

We completed our business within five minutes and walked outside to a red—but dirty-on-the-outside Tesla. She plunked me in it, adjusted the side view mirrors and the steering wheel and announced I was good to go. And, I—who had never driven this car, couldn’t even open the glove compartment, couldn’t readjust the side view mirrors, and couldn’t get the radio station to WUNC—started the voyage home.

Yes, I made it home in one piece. The app is now suddenly filled with pertinent information. However, it will be a long time before I forget the bizarre experience of buying a Tesla.

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

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2 Comments on "The Trials and Tribulations of Purchasing a Tesla"

  1. My daughter had also had a red Model Y. It took less than 5 minutes for me to get comfortable driving it. Ordered it online in less than 5 minutes. I’ve owned about 50 cars and it was the easiest purchase I ever made. I’ll never buy another gas car.

  2. I recently returned my first Tesla 3 leased car. Now I have leased & taken delivery of a Tesla Y.

    The Tesla cars are awesome. The customer service is infuriating and puzzling. They treat you as if you are lucky to drive/lease/own their cars. Your opinion and needs are not important.

    They are beginning to lose market share due to competition. They have begun to cut prices to keep market share.

    Tesla will continue to lose customers as long as they continue treating their customers.

    I will never own another Tesla !!!

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