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Tesla couldn't solve a Model 3 owners' Bluetooth problem after 7 months. So it blamed Samsung phones.

Christian Hetrick, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Business News

Jeff and Jennifer Salvage were the kind of customers whom companies dream about: early adopters who bragged about buying a new product.

As "fairly extreme environmentalists," the Salvages bought the Tesla Model S in 2013, just months after it hit the market. Jeff, a Drexel University computer science professor, blogged about ditching gas and driving the "fabulous" electric vehicle. The California car company was even named after Jeff's favorite scientist, Nikola Tesla.

"For every reason under the sun, it was the perfect car," he said.

Fast-forward six years, though, and the Salvages are ready to take Tesla to court.

After buying their second Tesla in March 2018, a Model 3 that has been serviced again and again since at least July, the Salvages have had enough of Tesla's customer service. The $56,000 car and Jennifer's smartphone can't stay connected, a glitch that prevents her from receiving phone calls hands-free and entering the car without a key.

Tesla blames Jennifer's Samsung phone and has refused to repurchase the car.

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"It was insulting," Jennifer said. "Despite the fact that I'm insulted, I want to be in a Tesla. I want them to do the right thing."

The Salvages argue that the unsolved Bluetooth problems harm the safety and value of their vehicle, even though Tesla officials called the wireless capabilities mere "convenience features." Their planned lawsuit would come at a turbulent time for Tesla, which has been under fire for failing to meet production and delivery schedules.

"We're not letting it go away," Jeff Salvage said.

The Salvages are among Tesla owners unhappy with the upstart electric car company's after-sales service. Even as Tesla has ramped up production, it operates just a small network of stores and service centers.

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