MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – We buy apps all the time now. But a Lakeville man called us when he got stuck with a $10,000 bill from an in-app purchase he claims he didn’t authorize. He has a buyer-beware alert that comes with a lesson for us all.
Jon McLaughlin and his wife Leah share the Tesla Model 3, the less expensive of the manufacturer’s electric cars. With opposite work schedules it works for the growing family.
“So far it’s been the best car we’ve ever owned, it’s awesome to drive,” McLaughlin said.
They didn’t opt in for the upgrades but knew full self-driving was an option. One night, it kicked in while Leah was behind the wheel.
“All of a sudden she said ‘hon the car just changed lanes for me.’ I was thinking that’s cool, but our car doesn’t do that. That’s a feature you have to buy separately,” McLaughlin said.
So Jon looked at his phone. The Tesla app acts as the car key – plus it’s where you can make purchases.
And there it was.
“It says I purchased full self-driving and the acceleration boost. There’s an invoice for both. Performance boost was $2,000, full self-driving was $7,000 and with tax that’s the charge I saw on my card, $9,641,” McLaughlin said.
He caught it right away and vehemently disputed the purchase through Tesla’s online portal and with the regional office.
“I don’t want it. I didn’t order it. I don’t need it. Take it off the car, that’s fine, I just need my money back. They then told me there’s no refund path to give back purchases and it’s not refundable,” McLaughlin said.
That was until WCCO started emailing Tesla’s media offices across the Globe. We reached out to Tesla North America, Tesla Australia & Asia, Tesla Europe & Middle East and Tesla China. No response for weeks.
“Part of me wants to say, ‘yeah, just take the car, I want to be done with it, I don’t want to deal with you guys,’” McLaughlin said.
Then after a month of stress and worry, Jon got an emailed response days before this story was set to air. Tesla offered a full refund. Still, Jon isn’t satisfied and wanted to warn others.
“I think if they could improve their front end customer service and find a way to have a return path for glitches in the software, that would go a long way,” McLaughlin said.
What do you do when customer service is all computer and little to no human contact? Jon filed a fraud report on his credit card disputing the charge, which triggered an investigation.
Another option? The Minnesota Attorney General’s office invites company complaints if you think you’re being ignored or treated unfairly.
Jon says the biggest thing he learned: make sure your credit card is set up to warn you about large purchases.