Uncertainty Reigns at Tesla Retail Stores

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
uncertainty reigns at tesla retail stores

If Tesla doesn’t exist anywhere on your shopping list, it’s easy to ignore the turmoil surrounding the automaker. If Tesla’s your employer, however, the past few weeks have been a roller coaster ride.

Retail employees, who, along with store managers and regional managers, learned of the automaker’s plan to divest itself of stores through media reports, claim they’re hanging by a thread, stripped of their commission and still in the dark.

Check out this deep dive in Jalopnik, which exposes the prevailing mood among Tesla retail employees. Having spoken to six employees scattered across the U.S., the publication reports that, in addition to rampant job hunting and varying commitment to chasing leads, remaining employees feel their store’s recent reprieve won’t be long-lived.

After announcing the closure of most of its retail locations amid a move to an online-only sales model, Tesla dialed it back on Sunday. The 10 percent of stores that have already closed were on the chopping block anyway, the automaker said, and a further 20 percent are under review. However, by keeping about half of its stores open, the 6-percent price cut on all but the base $35k Model 3 turns into a 3-percent price hike.

In many cases, Tesla was reportedly unable to get out of its store lease.

One employee told the publication, “The stores, even the ones that are remaining open, are totally dead and without guidance. There was no care given to the employees here.”

Another said, “We don’t know what we should be doing.”

As mentioned before, the elimination of a sales commission knocked employees back to their base pay; in some cases, this represents a 50-percent pay cut. Many employees had reportedly taken advantage of a company discount program that allowed them to trade in accrued paid time off towards the purchase of a car.

As for the company’s claim that 78 percent of its sales took place online, four of the six employees call it “bullshit.” Even in states where franchise laws forbid direct sales from a manufacturer to customer, interacting with both an employee and the vehicle itself is seen by many employees as key to landing a sale, even if the customer makes the order on their phone while sitting in the retail store.

From Jalopnik:

For months, they had been directed to have customers buy cars themselves through the Tesla website, even if they’re sitting right next to them in the store. But many buyers place an order on their phones after talking with a salesperson for hours or even making multiple visits. Others come into the store, think about it, and then buy online later. In retrospect, multiple employees now suspect this directive as a scheme to orchestrate their own obsolescence.

Turmoil among its retail ranks may not rank high on CEO Elon Musk’s list of concerns, however. Besides a little trouble with the SEC, there’s another splashy unveiling in the works. The Model Y crossover makes its first appearance on March 14th. According to one report, the company still doesn’t know where it plans to build it.

[Image: Tesla]

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  • Richard Chen Richard Chen on Mar 12, 2019

    My brother's recent Tesla Model 3 buyer's experience: Feb 28: car ordered, mid-range (264mi), blue/white +$2500 Tesla has a car in stock with the upgraded wheels for $1500, thrown in for free. Uh, Tesla just might have a cash flow problem... Mar 8: car delivered Mar 11: lucky you, got the car already with the not awful wheels and ducked the 3% price hike

    • See 1 previous
    • Richard Chen Richard Chen on Mar 13, 2019

      @SCE to AUX Paying for color options? yeah, right. He's younger so hopefully the lack of ergonomics won't get to him. I get annoyed when the turn/wiper stalks aren't in the exact location as all the other cars I've had as long term drivers - drove a BMW Z3 and kept missing the turn stalks. He's offered me a spin, but he's an hour and a half drive away.

  • Cognoscenti Cognoscenti on Mar 13, 2019

    I need to go drive a Model 3 before my local dealership dries up and blows away.

  • Nrd515 Usually for me it's been Arby's for pretty much forever, except when the one near my house dosed me with food poisoning twice in about a year. Both times were horrible, but the second time was just so terrible it's up near the top of my medical horror stories, and I have a few of those. Obviously, I never went to that one again. I'm still pissed at Arby's for dropping Potato Cakes, and Culver's is truly better anyway. It will be Arby's fish for my "cheat day", when I eat what I want. No tartar sauce and no lettuce on mine, please. And if I get a fish and a French Dip & Swiss? Keep the Swiss, and the dip, too salty. Just the meat and the bread for me, thanks. The odds are about 25% that they will screw one or both of them up and I will have to drive through again to get replacement sandwiches. Culver's seems to get my order right many times in a row, but if I hurry and don't check my order, that's when it's screwed up and garbage to me. My best friend lives on Starbucks coffee. I don't understand coffee's appeal at all. Both my sister and I hate anything it's in. It's like green peppers, they ruin everything they touch. About the only things I hate more than coffee are most condiments, ranked from most hated to..who cares..[list=1][*]Tartar sauce. Just thinking about it makes me smell it in my head. A nod to Ranch here too. Disgusting. [/*][*]Mayo. JEEEEZUS! WTF?[/*][*]Ketchup. Sweet puke tasting sludge. On my fries? Salt. [/*][*]Mustard. Yikes. Brown, yellow, whatever, it's just awful.[/*][*]Pickles. Just ruin it from the pickle juice. No. [/*][*]Horsey, Secret, whatever sauce. Gross. [/*][*]American Cheese. American Sleeze. Any cheese, I don't want it.[/*][*]Shredded lettuce. I don't hate it, but it's warm and what's the point?[/*][*]Raw onion. Totally OK, but not something I really want. Grilled onions is a whole nother thing, I WANT those on a burger.[/*][*]Any of that "juice" that Subway and other sandwich places want to put on. NO, HELL NO! Actually, move this up to #5. [/*][/list=1]
  • SPPPP It seems like a really nice car that's just still trying to find its customer.
  • MRF 95 T-Bird I owned an 87 Thunderbird aka the second generation aero bird. It was a fine driving comfortable and very reliable car. Quite underrated compared to the GM G-body mid sized coupes since unlike them they had rack and pinion steering and struts on all four wheels plus fuel injection which GM was a bit late to the game on their mid and full sized cars. When I sold it I considered a Mark VII LSC which like many had its trouble prone air suspension deleted and replaced with coils and struts. Instead I went for a MN-12 Thunderbird.
  • SCE to AUX Somebody got the bill of material mixed up and never caught it.Maybe the stud was for a different version (like the 4xe) which might use a different fuel tank.
  • Inside Looking Out Scandinavian design costs only $600? I mean the furniture.