Tesla took to its blog Wednesday to respond and defend itself to the self-proclaimed “Lemon Law King’s” Wisconsin lawsuit that said a car purchased by Robert Montgomery in Franklin, Wis. was faulty from the start.
The lawsuit was filed in Milwaukee County Circuit Court by attorney Vince Megna over Montgomery’s 2013 SP Sedan, which cost the Franklin doctor $94,777, plus $4,738 in Wisconsin sales tax.
In the lawsuit, Menga and Montgomery state that the car had been in the auto shop for more than 30 days due to various issues including inoperable door handles, paint defects and malfunctioning defrost. Montgomery also says the car failed to start, power up and charge at his home.
All of these defects, they said, put the car on in the trenches of Wisconsin’s lemon law, which states warranty-covered vehicles must be refunded or replaced after four defects. Montgomery claims in the lawsuit that he asked Tesla for his money back in November, but received nothing.
Tesla said they were “taken surprise” by the lawsuit, stating that they full-heartedly agree with lemon laws because they protect customers, but that in this case, the public should be “skeptical about the lawyer’s motivations.”
“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. Indeed, our service team, which has been in contact with the customer numerous times since November, is still trying to resolve his stated concerns, many of which have elusive origins,” Tesla writes on its blog.
The green carmaker goes on to talk about how the claim is “unusual on several counts.”
“For a start, it contradicts the general customer experience as measured by outside surveys,” the blog goes on to say. “The annual ‘Consumer Reports’ survey, for instance, gave Model S top marks for owner satisfaction, with a score of 99/100, the highest rating of any car ever. That doesn’t mean a single customer can’t have a bad overall experience, but it makes it highly unlikely. The claim also doesn’t jibe with the other accolades afforded to the car, including ‘Consumer Reports’’ ‘Best Overall’ designation for its Top Picks 2014 awards, and the 2013 Motor Trend Car of the Year award.
Tesla also says there are several inaccuracies in the lawyer’s story. For instance, Montgomery did not make three demands for a buy-back. He only made one in letter form in November 2013 as a prerequisite for pursuing the claim in Wisconsin. Tesla says its customer service team was in close contact with Montgomery both before and after the letter was sent, and talk of a buy-back never happened.
“To give you a sense of our service relationship with this customer, it’s worth considering our efforts to resolve two of his main complaints, “ the blog says. “One related to malfunctioning door handles. Even though our service team wasn’t able to replicate the issue with the door handles as described, we replaced all the handles anyway. 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.”
Tesla says it also did everything they could to address the issue that the car’s fuse blew out several times, writing: “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 these 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 also noted that Montgomery filed a lemon law suit against Volvo in February 2013, also with Menga.