Tesla Model S – A Used Car Fiasco

I realize that the title might sound a bit like hyperbole, but I promise that it’s a rather accurate description of this roller-coaster ride that I’ve been on since making the decision to bite the bullet on a used Model S.

I found a red 2015 70D in pristine condition – just an hour or so down the road in Massachusetts – listed on the Tesla “Used” page not long ago. I have been eyeing a used Tesla for quite some time, but an upcoming job change will have me driving more than I currently do, so having all of those miles paid for with free SuperCharging (not to mention, I live in New England, so AWD is a big selling feature, too) finally pushed me over the edge.

There are only stock photos of the car on the site and you can submit a request for actual photos, which they usually complete within 24 hours. After a call to Tesla to expedite the process of getting the “real” pictures of the car sent to me, I received the photos a few minutes later.

The car is absolutely beautiful. It’s got the old front end, which I don’t find quite as nice as the newer “facelift-ed” version, but it’s still lovely, and I’ll take a blacked out grille fascia in exchange for thousands of extra dollars in my account, thank you very much.

Plunking down the $2,500 non-refundable deposit was a gut-check moment. Was this the car I wanted?

Yes. Yes, it was.

Stock photos of my Tesla

Plunk. Gulp.

Thus began the saga of the Tesla that is mine, but not really. The problem you see, is that Tesla has no presence in New England outside of Boston. That doesn’t seem like such a big deal, except that Massachusetts doesn’t issue temporary plates, due to how their insurance laws work. Normally, this isn’t an issue for NH residents, because the car dealer will simply deliver the car over state line and you slap a NH temp plate on it and drive it home. Tesla, however operates differently.

Normally, I’ve been a fan of the Tesla model of purchasing a car. Order it online and you can pick it up or they’ll deliver it to your home. That makes so much more sense than sitting in a dealership for 4-6 hours only to have to come back the next day to pick up the freshly detailed car you just spent thousands of dollars on.

Tesla is different. They don’t do things the standard way. Unless, of course, you purchase a used vehicle. Then you have to pick it up at a dealership, because they don’t deliver used cars.

So, the car is 67 miles from my house, but I can’t go get it there. Tesla won’t deliver it the 67 miles, either. Instead, what they’ll do is ship the car 216 miles from Dedham, Ma to Paramus, NJ. I then will have to drive from NH to NJ (252 Miles) to pick it up.

A map of my car’s journey.

A road trip is not that big of a deal, but scheduling this has become something of a fiasco. Tesla has so far been unable to provide a timeline for when the car will be ready to pick up. It’s been 6 days since I put my deposit down and I don’t know whether I’ll have to take time off of work to make the trip down to pick it up, cancel weekend plans 9 days from now, or wait a total of 4 weekends to get my car. I really just want to be able to plan.

I really have no recourse in the situation, either, unless I’m okay with losing out on my deposit if I walk away.

At the end of the day, I just want my car; barring that, a week after placing my order I would even be happy with being able to plan my trip with some measure of certainty. Even if that trip is kind of ludicrous (see what I did there?).

Sadly, neither of those are true, at the moment.

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