Tesla allegedly charged some of its customers twice for their car

Getting a refund is easier said than done

Keep an eye on your account balance if you recently purchased a new Tesla. Some customers are accusing the California-based firm of charging them twice for a new car, and getting a refund isn't as simple as it sounds.

Southern California residents Tom Slattery, Christopher Lee, and Clark Peterson told CNBC that they paid for their new car twice, and two additional buyers who asked to remain anonymous said the same thing happened to them. One spent $37,000 on an entry-level Model 3; another purchased a well-equipped Model Y priced at $71,000. 

Tesla sells cars directly to customers via its website to bypass franchised dealerships. At check-out, buyers need to choose how to pay. Options include making an Automated Clearing House Network (ACH) transfer, sending the company a check, getting financing, or paying with Bitcoin. Slattery, Lee, and Peterson made an ACH transfer, which is like an electronic wire transfer that's processed through a clearinghouse rather than through a bank.

Several customers posted a message on enthusiast forum Tesla Motors Club to complain about the same issue. Getting charged twice for a bottle of root beer is annoying, but paying for a new car twice can cause major problems — one customer needs the money to buy a house, for example. Others are facing massive overdraft fees.

Most of the affected customers who contacted Tesla, either via email or by walking into one of its stores, were told getting a refund could take days. It sounds like the issue isn't limited to a handful of buyers; Slattery wrote on Twitter that a Tesla employee at the Burbank store admitted over 400 buyers were recently double-charged for a car.

Some forum users who managed to reach Tesla reported they were instructed to call their bank in order to figure how to cancel the charge. Of course, as normally happens when negative news hovers around Tesla, a handful of observers say the issue was made up by short-sellers who want to make a quick buck by denting the company's market cap. Screen shots posted on the forum seemingly confirm some buyers were charged twice, however.

Tesla hasn't commented on the issue, so we don't know if it was caused by a software glitch, someone hacking into the system, or something else. Similarly, there's no word yet on how, when, or if it will compensate buyers.

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