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Elon Musk didn’t “steal” anyone’s car, but Tesla dropped the ball

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors, reacts to a reporter's question following the electric automaker’s initial public offering on Nasdaq, Tuesday, June, 29, 2010 in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

A blog post titled “How Elon Musk Stole My Car” went viral on Tesla forums earlier today. In the post, a “Florida man”, who goes by “Marty”, writes in details about a poor customer experience he had when trying to buy an inventory Model S from Tesla.

To summarize the situation, Marty claimed he placed a deposit on an inventory Model S in California, but then Tesla CEO Elon Musk used the car to test the latest version of Tesla’s Autopilot and as a result, the company couldn’t sell him the car anymore because it was now “so aftermarket”.

What is particularly worrying about the account of Marty’s experience is that he claims Tesla employees knew about Musk driving the car after he had placed a deposit to reserve it, but they actively dodged his calls when he was trying to locate the car for a delivery.

From the blog post:

“Even worse, he [Tesla owner advisor] said he could see all the calls I had made into the Orlando delivery center this past week, and no one was taking my calls because no one knew what to do.

Tesla logs every in-bound call to their centers, and stores all of this in a national database. This is most likely tied into a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system, to provide better service. So, for example, Kevin in California saw detailed records of all my attempts to connect with someone in Orlando.  Since no one knew what to do, they were deliberately avoiding taking my calls or communicating with me.”

At first, we were skeptical of Marty’s account of the events, but as it turns out, it seems like his account could be an accurate description of what he experienced – though of course, there are always two sides to a story.

Marty’s real name is Manoj Puranik. He is the CEO of cloud computing firm, which is why his blog post is on the website. According to Tesla, the Model S Puranik placed a deposit on was a test vehicle, which is probably why they couldn’t sell it, not because it was “so aftermarket”. A Tesla spokesperson sent us the following statement:

“Unfortunately, due to human error, a car from our test fleet was offered for sale. We apologize that this led to a frustrating experience. We are working to ensure that it never happens again.”

It’s hardly like Musk “stole” his car, but arguably this representation helped Puranik gets his story out there. Musk obviously didn’t personally request to use a car knowing it was reserved, but rather he believed it to be a vehicle part of the company’s test fleet, which it was according to Tesla.

The company didn’t address Marty’s claim that employees dodged his calls, but the statement acknowledged that he had a “frustrating experience”.

Featured image: Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors, reacts to a reporter’s question following the electric automaker’s initial public offering on Nasdaq, Tuesday, June, 29, 2010 in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

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