Tesla Model 3 Reservation Holders Complain of Store Pressure to Take Model S Inventory

Would-be buyers are taking to Reddit to express their frustration over sales tactics.

Tesla Model 3 reservation holders have begun complaining that Tesla store employees are pressuring them to give up their spots for the hotly-awaited midsized electric car in favor of Model S vehicles already in stock—vehicles which often have pricetags far higher than the Model 3s the reservationees were planning on buying. And worryingly, some Tesla employees are reportedly pushing less-than-truthful narratives about electric vehicle tax credits in order to try and move inventory.

The latest reports began popping up in a thread that began Monday on Reddit’s /r/teslamotors forum, prompted by the story of one claimed Model 3 reservation holder who said he set down his deposit the first day Tesla opened the books for the more-affordable electric car. 

“I have been interested into going for a new Model S after realizing the config of the Model 3 I wanted was $56.5k vs $79k for a Model S of my choice,” Reddit user Turtlesz wrote. When he went in to the store to check out interior trims, however, Turtlez found the sales staff pressing him hard to not just grab a Model S, but to snap up one of the ones already sitting around instead of custom-ordering the one he wanted. 

“The store reps were trying to sell an inventory model and said if I didn’t act quick I would miss out on the full tax incentives, which I knew was complete BS,” he wrote. “They even said if I custom built a Model S with delivery of late September it also might be cutting it close and not guaranteed to get all credits. The inventory model was more expensive then the new 75 build I wanted and didn’t have the air suspension and new faster drive unit.”

“The 3’s longer range, newer computing power (less UI lag), and similar interior storage makes it tough to spend on the S,” he added. “Just disappointed that I got the grimey salesperson feeling that traditional dealers are known for.”

The “credits” the spokesperson appears to have been referring to are the federal tax credits for electric vehicles, which currently knock $7,500 off the cost of any new Tesla. The federal government designed those tax credits to start being scaled back as manufacturers crank out more and more EVs; half a year after a carmaker sells its 200,000th electric car in the United States, the credit is cut in half; six months later, it’s halved again, and six months after that, it’s phased out altogether. 

While Tesla has been far and away the most successful company dedicated to building nothing but EVs, it’s only sold around 135,000 vehicles in the U.S. as of last month, according to Inside EVs—a fact that fellow /r/teslamotors user and presumable Pearl Jam fan vita10gy pointed out in the top comment while highlighting the increase in similar incidents to the one Turtlez reported. 

“Your situation has happened a lot lately, and it’s off putting. Not least of which because they’re telling outright falsehoods,” vital10gy wrote. “It would be literally impossible for the credits to be gone by September, unless they’re talking about state ones.” 

Indeed, the post’s creator was joined by multiple other redditors who complained of similar bad behavior on the part of some Tesla store employees. 

“This happened to me as well (day 1 reservation CA). They implied that there was only a $3k difference in price between the models (comparing fully loaded 3 vs. base S w/ tax credit). I told them this was very misleading and corrected their understanding of how the tax credit works,” wrote user dntbevl1.

“Redding [sic] about this more and more, and getting more and more turned off by Tesla,” wrote Jddssc121, whose bio states that he is both a current Tesla owner and a Model 3 reservation holder. 

For what it’s worth,  Tesla is aware of the occurrences of certain sales employees doing this, and is working to crack down on the practice. “This sales “tactic” is unacceptable and is being discouraged by the company currently. I can’t share the email of course but we have received emails from the company explaining that the tax credit will not run out before the end of the year and that employees telling customers that need to immediately stop,” user AnAngryAlien, who claims to work for the company, wrote.