A Tesla customer has been waiting more than two years for a refund of the Model X.

Danny Roman runs a sustainable outdoor adventure company that provides cycling and hiking tours in Southern California.

Danny Roman

Danny Roman bought a new Tesla Model X and received it on February 28, 2020.

Three days later, he informed the company that he was bringing the electric SUV back under the seven-day policy, no questions asked, which Tesla CEO Elon Musk was promoting at the time.

Today, more than two years after Tesla acquired the car, Roman still hasn’t gotten his money back or access to the car, which has a total price tag of about $116,000, including various options and fees.

Records indicate that Tesla picked up his Model X, loaded it into a tow truck on March 8, 2020, after which he expected the refund to arrive immediately. His bank advised him to ask the electric-vehicle maker to start a “sale stop,” he recalls, and then a Tesla salesperson told him that the refund would be processed soon.

Instead, several weeks later, as he was still communicating with Tesla about the status of his return, Roman received a service alert from Tesla telling him to show up to pick up the electric SUV. The alert explained that it had been repaired and that it was at a service center in Burbank, California, even though he originally purchased the car in Century City, about a 40-minute drive away.

Roman told CNBC he was surprised by the service’s alert. He says he never requested or authorized any repairs and that Tesla had previously admitted that he would return the car. (Correspondence between Roman and Tesla, which he shared with CNBC, confirms his account.)

Roman stopped making car payments for a month because he thought everything was moving right. Then the bank told him that he had missed the payment and that his credit rating had taken a 30-point hit. When he called to ask about it, he was told that Tesla had not issued a sale moratorium.

As the owner of a small business offering cycling and hiking tours in Southern California, Roman says he needs to maintain a strong credit rating. So given Tesla’s stubborn attitude to the Model X, he decided he had no choice but to continue making car payments to his bank and pay to keep the car insured.

Roman wanted to avoid any repossession by his bank, and he knew that the financial institution could have destroyed his balance if he had not continued the payments. Continue insurance payments in the event of damage to the vehicle while in Tesla’s possession.

“If you stop paying your bank, it will destroy you!” Roman said.

As a result, for the past two years Roman has been making payments for a car he doesn’t own.

Tesla did not respond to a request for comment on its customer predicament.

Why did he return the car?

Roman says he bought the car because he was a Tesla fan, read that the Model X has a great safety rating, and believes driving a battery-powered electric car would reduce the environmental impact of his personal transportation.

As the father of a baby boy at the time, he was very concerned about safety. As the owner of a sustainable outdoor adventure company, he felt that buying a battery-powered electric vehicle was a good way to underscore that commitment.

The car was marketed with a battery range of more than 400 miles, which is essential for driving from Southern California to the San Francisco Bay Area and points-along where he often travels and sometimes leads biking tours.

When he first took out the Tesla Model X, the range indicator said Roman had drained 15 miles of battery after he had driven less than half a mile from his home.

When he tried to recharge the high-voltage car battery on the first day he owned the car and drove to the Tesla Supercharging station in Culver City, Roman said it took a lot longer than the salespeople promised — hours, not 45 minutes — to charge up to 80%. of the full range of the battery or beyond.

Roman shared photos with CNBC showing the vehicle and shipping status from that trip. Roman said that even before the time he was connected at a charging station, he had already waited more than an hour to get to a kiosk, because he had a large number of cars ahead.

“This is Los Angeles, everyone has a Tesla.”

Tesla owners wait to recharge their electric car batteries in Southern California.

Danny Roman

Besides battery issues, Roman said one of the car’s falcon wing doors was stuck together when he tried to open it. He found that installing a charger in his apartment complex would cost 10 times the amount Tesla salespeople claimed it would. Salespeople said he can install a charger at home for about $700; They knew he lives in an apartment building, but instead they offered the price of a charger in a separate garage.

In the spring of 2019, Elon Musk told his millions of Twitter followers, “To be clear, orders are fully refundable, even after you’ve had a Tesla for a week,” and “if someone really wants to return the car in good faith on Day 8.” No problem.”

So Roman returned his car.

Danny Roman’s Tesla Model X had battery and door problems that led him to bring it back to the electric car maker in 2020.

Danny Roman

At one point, letters to Roman from Tesla showed that the company tried to convince him that it didn’t have a seven-day return policy when he bought his car.

But Tesla had a return policy on its website until October 2020 — months after he bought it and returned it for the Model X. (The return policy was also mentioned in its sales contract.) After three months of back and forth with the company, including he was told A refund would arrive soon, and then being told he could pick it up for repair, Roman sued the company.

To his surprise, instead of being able to proceed in court, he was informed that his case would be sent to the Alternative Dispute Resolution process.

When he signed the papers in order to receive his Form X, Roman agreed to the arbitration clause.

Not a day in court

Roman’s predicament regarding the Tesla Model X highlights the vulnerability of American consumers who have been pushed into arbitration agreements in order to normally purchase services or items.

Mandatory arbitration is common in new and used car sales, says Paul Bland, CEO of Public Justice, a consumer advocacy group.

For all practical purposes, he says, consumers gain nothing from consent to arbitration. But for companies, “their motivation is to establish liability, and to make it difficult for a consumer to win an individual case if they did something illegal,” Bland said. “It’s such a secret system that it’s difficult for consumers to find out what happened to people in previous related cases, and it makes it even more difficult for a class action to exist.”

Roman says that if he realized the company wasn’t honest with him about the car and return process up front, he wouldn’t buy the Model X and wouldn’t agree to arbitration. His arbitration is still pending.

Meanwhile, Roman had to rent another car to use in place of the Model X. He told CNBC he’s renting a Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid electric.

“Every time the money is withdrawn from my account, every month, I get upset,” Roman said. “Besides, I’ve spent over a hundred hours of my life trying to fix this, and I’m just worried.”

In February of this year, Tesla – still refusing to admit that they accepted his car as a return – sent a letter to Roman telling him that his car, which he had not seen in nearly two years, was ready for pickup no later than. Service Center.

Confused, Roman emailed them and said he would come to pick it up. But after that, Tesla did not set a date for him to do so. They told him to call his bank instead. This did not take him anywhere.

Danny Roman used a Tesla app to find the whereabouts of a Model X that returned to the company in 2020.

Furious and curious about what happened to the Model X over time, Roman logged into the Tesla app to see if he could find out anything about his whereabouts. It turns out that the car he paid for was sitting in a salvage yard just 11 miles from his home.

“After everything I’ve been through, I’m still a big believer in Tesla, Elon Musk, and electric cars,” Roman told CNBC. “I hope my story reaches the powers that be at Tesla and that they make the necessary changes so that this does not happen to their customers in the future.”