Tesla sued for supercharging idle fees. Customer claims it is a violation of Tesla’s promise of ‘free supercharging for life’ to its customers.
One of the customers of Tesla, Kevin Shenkman filed a class-action complaint against Tesla. The complaint accused Tesla of breaking its ‘supercharging free for life’ promise. On June 24, 2021, Shenkman filed a complaint against Tesla in Alameda County Superior Court for charging an ‘idling fee’ as reported by Bloomberg.
Supercharging Idle Fee: What? When? Why?
From 2012 to 2016, Tesla offered to supercharge free for life at Tesla’s network on all of its models. Tesla proposed the ‘free supercharging service for life’ in order to encourage early customers to buy Tesla’s electric vehicles. But with time, the Electric Vehicles grew relatively more in number than the number of supercharging stations. It resulted in congestion at the supercharging stations. Currently, Tesla has about 1,100 Supercharger sites in the USA and 2,800 Supercharger sites all over the world including the USA.
However, in 2016, to deal with the problem of congestion, Tesla introduced an ‘idle fee’ for drivers. Tesla charges the idle fee when the driver leaves the car plugged in at the charging station after the vehicle reaches full charging. The fee is $0.50 per minute or $1 per minute if the station is at full capacity.
The lifetime free supercharging service is not applicable to customers who bought models with smaller batteries and those who bought cars after March 2017.
Whenever someone’s vehicle finishes charging, Tesla alerts the owner of the vehicle through a series of app alerts. However, if the Supercharger station is at least half full, Tesla starts charging a fee for unnecessarily occupying one of its charging slots. If the bays are less than half full, no idle fee will be charged. Also, if a vehicle leaves within five minutes of reaching a full charge, Tesla waives the idle fee. However, if the drivers don’t pay an idle fee, Tesla simply stops the charging service.
Tesla Sued for Supercharging Idle fee
This is precisely the case here. Shenkman refused to pay the idle fees he incurred. As a result, Tesla discontinued its supercharging services unless he paid the ‘Supercharger idle fee’. Shenkman bought the Model S of Tesla for $83,570 in 2014. His vehicle was eligible for free supercharging for life service on Tesla’s Network. Further, he said that he wouldn’t have bought a Tesla if it was not offering free supercharging for life. Shenkman was disappointed that Tesla discontinued its supercharging services to him over ‘idle fees’. He said that Tesla and broke the ‘supercharging free for life’ promise that Shenkman paid thousands of dollars to get.
But this was not the first time that Shenkman left his electric vehicle plugged in at the Tesla Supercharging Station. Earlier also, Shenkman too faced this problem of ‘idle fees’ when he left his vehicle at the Tesla charging station for too long. But Tesla did not charge him ‘idle fees’ after he complained back then.
Through this lawsuit, Shenkman wants to get an order to stop Tesla from imposing the supercharger idle fees. In addition to this, Shenkman also seeks to represent all early Tesla adopters to recover their unnecessary idle fees costs and punitive damages.
Tesla has not given any statement or comment regarding this lawsuit.
However, anything that involves Tesla definitely makes news. People have mixed opinions about it. Some say that the service promised by Tesla charging Network was ‘free supercharging for life’ not ‘free parking for life’. A penalty is justified if it creates problems for other Tesla users in charging their vehicle especially when someone else’s vehicle is plugged in unnecessarily.
This is like asking for permission to leave a car plugged in as long as the driver wants for free, which is not fair. Tesla takes necessary steps through app alerts and showing the time by when the vehicle will reach its full charging. The notification at 80-100% of charging the Electric vehicle gives its customer enough around 20-30 minutes to come back and take the vehicle out easily without incurring the ‘idling fees’. Also, when superchargers are really busy then only Tesla charges ‘idle fees.
On the other hand, some people see it as a matter of a powerful automaker company breaking its promises instead of building more supercharging stations to meet the demands. However, Tesla has got more support in this matter from people and CNBC (Consumer News and Business Channel).
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