Yes, Virginia, Tesla's $1,000 referral bonus is against the rules

Tesla Alters Its New Incentive Program In Virginia

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If it's a day that ends in "y," it must mean that Tesla Motors has annoyed another state-appointed regulator. In all seriousness, the electric vehicle maker has had to tweak it's nationwide referral promotion in Virginia, Bloomberg News says. The program, which lets current Model S owners refer new ones and then both get a $1,000 bonus, was the first incentive-type program Tesla was known to have run. In this case, the first time definitely wasn't a charm.

Tesla ran afoul of a long-standing Virginia state law that prevented so-called "rogue" dealers from selling cars. In this case, Tesla's referral program not only gave the new-car buyer $1,000 off the agreed-upon price, but the existing, referring Tesla owner was to also get $1,000 in the form of either a service credit or a discount off the next Tesla they planned to buy. Since that program essentially paid people who weren't licensed to sell vehicles, it violated Virginia's mandate against what's known as "bird-dogging." After learning about the rule violation, Tesla adjusted the program to comply with Virginia law. Now, only the buyer of the new car gets money, but he or she will get $2,000. The company still has a social-media contest that awards a Tesla Model X to the first person to encourage 10 new vehicle buyers.

Tesla has one showroom and one service center in Virginia, so the California-based company does not exactly have a huge statewide presence. Tesla has problems selling cars in other states, going head to head for eons against states like Texas, Arizona and Michigan when it comes to state regulators backing car-dealership lobbyists and not allowing Tesla's direct factory-to-customer distribution system.

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