Mr. Musk acknowledged that Tesla was having serious problems when he referred to “delivery logistics hell” in a Twitter post on Sept. 16. At the time, Tesla was scrambling to sell and deliver as many Model 3 sedans as it could, to help turn a profit in the third quarter. The chief executive also asked current customers to help out at delivery centers to ease the load on Tesla’s staff.
Jonathan Berent, a technology executive in California, recounted a particularly frustrating episode. He paid a $1,000 deposit in 2016 to reserve the right to order a Model 3, then $2,500 this year as a further deposit on a Performance version. In early September, he was told that his car was at a delivery center near Tesla’s Fremont plant, and he headed there with a cashier’s check for the balance. When he arrived, a sales representative showed him the car, and gave him his vehicle identification number.
“I thought, finally, it’s here,” Mr. Berent said. “I’d been waiting two years for this car.”
While his Model 3 was being detailed, however, a salesman said there had been a mix-up. The car Mr. Berent had just sat in was actually assigned to another customer, also named Jonathan. After a considerable wait, the salesman found another car in an inventory lot about an hour’s drive away, Mr. Berent recalled. When the car arrived, it had paint defects that had to be repaired, and he went home.
By then, some friends had told him about problems with their Teslas. Mr. Berent considered the paint issue with the car he was assigned, and the delivery frustrations, and decided to cancel his order.
“I didn’t want a car that might not work,” he said. “There was no way I was taking that car.”
Nevertheless, he was contacted repeatedly over the next two weeks by Tesla sales representatives who said they had a car ready for him. One woman phoned and offered to deliver the car within eight hours, to his home or even to a coffee shop if he preferred, Mr. Berent said.
He declined the offers, and is awaiting a refund. “If you’re buying an $85,000 car, it should be a great experience,” he said.
Tesla said it had no record of Mr. Berent’s canceling his order.