Owning your own car company has a lot of little-considered benefits: all the slightly-damaged car seats you want for napping, easy access to stacks of tires to build forts, and the ability to cancel any customer’s order just because you don’t like them. Guess which one Elon Musk just took advantage of?
While I’m sure he builds plenty of tire forts, Musk just used his power as the Fromageus Maximus at Tesla to cancel venture capitalist Stewart Alsop’s order of a Model X.
Alsop, the former editor-in-chief of Infoworld, now seems to spend a fair amount of time blogging. It was this post titled Dear @ElonMusk: You should be ashamed of yourself that seems to have been what prompted Musk to cancel Alsop’s $5000 deposit on a Model X.
The post Alsop wrote was a pretty scathing recap of the Model X launch event this past September. The event was supposed to give people who had deposits on the bigger, falcon-door’d Model X a chance to see the cars up close, and, ideally, drive one for a bit. The actual result Alsop describes does sound a bit like a clusterfuck:
It’s bad enough that your event producers couldn’t actually produce an event — the so-called Model X Launch Event. Starting a 7:00pm event at 8:50pm is simply unacceptable, particularly when the invited guests are actually your customers! But for you to stand up at 8:52pm and not even acknowledge that you have wasted your own customers’ time was insensitive and poor judgement.
So, at 9:00pm, two hours after arriving mostly just to see a Model X up close, I left. I was angry. (Not to mention I was hungry, since you didn’t even provide real food during dinner time!) I feel like I was mislead and mistreated. I had been handed a badge that would let me test drive the model, but my badge number was 1,344. If you started the event one hour and 22 minutes late, I could only imagine that having 1,343 people in front of me to test drive a Model X would have kept me there until, I don’t know, 2:00 AM.
So, yeah, that does sound like a pretty awful mess on Tesla’s part.
Of course, it’s also hard to ignore the privileged, monacle-popping tone of the post as well. Anyone who uses the phrase “simply unacceptable” and equates not having “real food” with being “mistreated” in an event to look at the $130,000 car you’re waiting to buy is also someone who, I can’t lie, would probably be pretty satisfying to deny selling a car to.
I’m not saying what Elon Musk did here is right, by any standard – the event does sound like a mess, the Model X is at least two years behind schedule, and getting frustrated and upset is absolutely understandable.
But I can also appreciate how someone who has total control of their own car company might just think “fuck that guy” and tear up his deposit check because, well, it’s your own damn company.
Alsop seems to have been informed that he wasn’t allowed to have a Model X via phone by Musk himself, an experience recounted in another post, Banned By Tesla! In a weird, Bizzaro World way, that is sort of incredible customer service, where the head of a car company calls you personally and tells you that he thinks you’re too big a dick to have one of their cars.
I’m a colossal idiot, and Volkswagen has never called me and asked me to stop driving my Beetle. Maybe they’d refuse me if I tried to buy something new, though. I haven’t checked.
Is Musk being petty? Oh hell yes. Is it unprofessional? Incredibly so. Do I weirdly envy the nuclear-grade notgiveafuckery Musk possesses to do this? Kind of.
Fundamentally, this is pretty stupid. I kind of roll my eyes at Alsop’s posts, but the man has valid points. I think his best bet here would be to place a new deposit in his dog’s name or something and then use his Model X to do donuts on Elon Musk’s lawn once he gets it.
In 2020, probably.