Tesla doesn’t do business the way every other auto company does business. They don’t have dealerships, which is the most obvious difference, but they do have high service standards. This included a $100 service fee to tow you car no matter how far it was from a service center, but that service has now ended leaving some Tesla enthusiasts a little less enthusiastic.
The Model S went on sale in 2012. At the time, Tesla had only 15 service centers worldwide. That’s not a lot and it had the potential to keep customers away. Who wants to buy a car that has to be towed hundreds of miles for a service issue?
Tesla solved the problem by offering to tow any Model S in need of service for a flat fee of $100. First they’d send out a repair technician called a Ranger and if he couldn’t take care of the issue, then the car would be taken to a factory-owned service center. This wasn’t a half-bad solution at the time.
It’s now nearly 2016 and Tesla has 125 service centers around the world. That makes it a lot easier for customers to obtain service. According to AutomotiveNews, 91 percent of Tesla Model S owners live within 50 miles of a service center with 83 percent living within 25 miles. This means most people are within a reasonable range for service.
The Ranger program was scrapped earlier this year and replaced with a program that starts at $100 and moves up in cost depending on the distance from a service center. Those who bought their cars with the $100 flat service fee still effective are feeling a little cheated.
The flat service fee was a great idea for Tesla as a start-up trying to generate business, but it doesn’t make sense in the long term. Look at any towing guarantee, whether it’s a manufacturer or a third party, and the price you pay varies depending on how far you need your car towed. It’s nothing new, but it is new to Tesla.
The cost can still be prohibitive to some. If you’re in that unlucky 9 percent living more than 50 miles away, then you could be looking at hundreds of dollars to have your car towed. Tesla has a stellar service record and a history of raving fans as customers, but the bottom line is still the bottom line.
Teslas aren’t cheap to begin with, so some may see it as worth the price to have one parked in their driveways. Those who already bought with the security of that flat $100 fee, however, are out of luck.