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Tesla’s report card: An ‘F’ from the Better Business Bureau

Tesla may get an “A” grade for the look of, and experience that comes with driving one of its vehicles. And when it comes to drumming up publicity, Chief Executive Elon Musk’s grades have to be at the top of the class:


But when it comes to where it stands with the Better Business Bureau…Well, there, Tesla gets an “F” due to how poorly the BBB says Tesla responds to customer complaints.


“They’re a fine company, they make fine products,” said Steve McFarland, Chief Executive of the Better Business Bureau for Silicon Valley and Los Angeles. “We just don’t want companies to ignore consumers.”


McFarland said Tesla’s “F” grade has been consistent, because the company does a poor job of responding to the dozens of complaints from consumers who have been verified by the Better Business Bureau to have bought Tesla products.


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“Respectable, credible companies do not like bad grades from the Better Business Bureau,” McFarland said.


Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


Tesla does respond to some complaints: Of 65 complaints about the Palo Alto electric car maker recorded by the bureau, 23 were resolved to the customer’s satisfaction, according to the bureau. In 10 cases, Tesla responded to the dispute but didn’t make a good-faith effort to resolve it, according to bureau data. In 17 cases, the company addressed the issue but the customer either didn’t accept the response or didn’t notify the bureau about it.


In 15 cases, Tesla didn’t respond at all, according to the bureau.


Among the complaints the firm didn’t respond to was one from a Model S owner who was told after a service check that the car had a suspension problem that wouldn’t be covered by the warranty because the vehicle had suffered an impact. “The vehicle has never suffered an impact, and I have only driven the same routes to work for a decade with no issues with previous cars,” the complaint said.


Another customer who the bureau said did not receive a response had complained of defective floor mats that bunched up near the accelerator pedal. “This has caused the accelerator to stick and made the car accelerate uncontrollably, almost causing me to wreck,” the complaint said.


Another complaint had little to do with a Tesla car. A person said after buying two Tesla T-shirts, the promised receipt was not emailed so the customer wasn’t able to return the shirts, the complaint said.


Tesla isn’t the only Silicon Valley tech giant with a bad BBB rating. Google currently has a “D.” Last week it had an “F.” The Mountain View company typically responds to complaints periodically, so its rating goes up and down, McFarland said.

“They do respond to consumers … on an intermittent basis,” McFarland said. “They do a great job at times, other times they’re a little bit lax.”

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