Tesla remotely removes autopilot features from used Model S after it was sold

midian182

Posts: 6,436   +56
Staff member

Update (2/14): Never underestimate the power of bad publicity. After Tesla removed driver assistance features from a second-hand Model S 75D following its purchase from a dealer, the company has restored the Enhanced Autopilot and Full Self Driving, blaming the incident on a “miscommunication.”

Jalopnik details the case of a consumer who purchased a 2017 Tesla Model S on December 20 of last year from a third-party dealer. The car was sold at auction, where it was listed with the premium features, which cost a total of $8,000 when adding them to a new vehicle.

Tesla sold the car to the dealership on November 15, and on November 18, the company conducted an “audit” on the car remotely, which flagged Enhanced Autopilot and FSD for removal. After the Model S was bought, a software update was pushed out, disabling the features.

When the buyer contacted Tesla, they were told the car was “incorrectly configured for Autopilot versions that they did not pay for.” The same reason was given for the removal of FSD, though Tesla generously offered to re-add the features for a price.

Image credit: Jalopnik

The move has been compared to someone buying a second-hand car and the manufacturer removing adaptive cruise control or A/C options because the previous owner paid for them. And as Engadget notes, Tesla’s Terms of Use suggest the only feature tied to the user is Premium Connectivity, which can’t be transferred.

What’s especially strange is that when the buyer contacted a Tesla Used Vehicle Sales Advisor, they were told that if the features had been added, Tesla wouldn’t remove them, even though it had.

It seems this wasn’t an isolated incident, either. There are stories on Tesla’s message boards of people having similar experiences.

It’s been a busy few days for Tesla. The company’s stock has rallied 60 percent, and CEO Elon Musk has suggested the next gigafactory will be built in Texas.

Permalink to story.

 

QuantumPhysics

Posts: 4,358   +4,632
If this guy bought this car with that feature, Tesla had no right to disable it.

My right to private contract as a consumer is between myself and the seller. If a seller sells me a product, then I have accepted that product from them - as is. No one has a right to remove anything from my purchase that was in my sale.

He should sue for the return of Autopilot or he should get his money back.

That's one of the scariest things to me about cars that auto-update over the air. The government could literally reduce their possible speeds to far less than you paid for and make them incapable of speeding.

Technically, they could have your car self-drive itself back to the dealer if you missed payments.

It's issues like this which are why I'd spend money on another Hellcat long before I'd buy a Tesla.


Everything with them from the sale process to this is just so shady.
 
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PurpleYoda

Posts: 141   +119
Something similar happens with PC games, basically the second hand market is dying out as you have to activate the game say on steam and after that if you wanted to sell it to someone else they won’t be able to use the same code but they will be able to purchase a new one for you guessed it full price!
 

Ryan Barrett

Posts: 41   +10
Something similar happens with PC games, basically the second hand market is dying out as you have to activate the game say on steam and after that if you wanted to sell it to someone else they won’t be able to use the same code but they will be able to purchase a new one for you guessed it full price!
As much as I hate that, it is not quite a correct comparison. With games bought on a platform such as steam, you're not really buying them, but leasing them. And it's getting harder and harder to find a full disc based game nowadays.
 
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wiyosaya

Posts: 5,629   +3,813
Typical Musky and Tesla - I'm a billionaire and you're not; so sue me.

For me, this is a big red flag that there is a lot of BS coming out of Musky and Tesla WRT how well they are really doing financially.
 
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Getgone

Posts: 51   +73
Come one, Techspot, I did not expect this copy-paste and clickbait from you. You're throwing away quality for the quick posting and copying from other sources. 2020 "journalism".
 

mbrowne5061

Posts: 1,774   +1,014
If this guy bought this car with that feature, Tesla had no right to disable it.

My right to private contract as aconsumer is between myself and the seller. If a seller sells me a product, then I have accepted that product from them - as is. No one has a right to remove anything from my purchase that was in my sale.

He should sue for the return of Autopilot or he should get his money back.
He should go to the various consumer protection agencies that would have jurisdiction. There are already laws - beyond contract law - about just this sort of thing.

That's one of the scariest things to me about cars that auto-update over the air. The government could literally reduce their possible speeds to far less than you paid for and make them incapable of speeding.
Self-driving cars will making speeding a thing of the past anyway.

Technically, they could have your car self-drive itself back to the dealer if you missed payments.

It's issues like this which are why I'd spend money on another Hellcat long before I'd buy a Tesla.


Everything with them from the sale process to this is just so shady.
Which a repo man would do anyway if you missed enough payments on a 'classic' car and it got sent to collections.
 

Evernessince

Posts: 5,464   +6,145
If this guy bought this car with that feature, Tesla had no right to disable it.

My right to private contract as aconsumer is between myself and the seller. If a seller sells me a product, then I have accepted that product from them - as is. No one has a right to remove anything from my purchase that was in my sale.

He should sue for the return of Autopilot or he should get his money back.

That's one of the scariest things to me about cars that auto-update over the air. The government could literally reduce their possible speeds to far less than you paid for and make them incapable of speeding.

Technically, they could have your car self-drive itself back to the dealer if you missed payments.

It's issues like this which are why I'd spend money on another Hellcat long before I'd buy a Tesla.


Everything with them from the sale process to this is just so shady.
The thing is, while that applies to physical products, it does not to software products. Until someone sues a software company (or hardware company that includes software) for removing features and wins that court case, things like this will continue. IMO digital rights should be the same as physical rights Games, for example, are priced the same but you loose your right to resell. For digital products you are also restricted from suing (among other things) by a EULA. This is the erosion of consumer rights.
 
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Rayneofpayne

Posts: 298   +282
As much as I hate that, it is not quite a correct comparison. With games bought on a platform such as steam, you're not really buying them, but leasing them. And it's getting harder and harder to find a full disc based game nowadays.
In the EU you are buying them in the US you are leasing them. US courts haven't caught up or challenged laws concerning ownership of software, where as the EU has.
 
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m4a4

Posts: 2,197   +2,267
TechSpot Elite
I mean, the ONLY reason why one of these cars would be on my radar is because it's 2nd hand, good condition, and cheap. This just makes it all the more unlikely lol
 
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wiyosaya

Posts: 5,629   +3,813
I mean, the ONLY reason why one of these cars would be on my radar is because it's 2nd hand, good condition, and cheap. This just makes it all the more unlikely lol
The thing is it was removed after the car was bought. Essentially, the act devalued the car after the buyer paid for it which, IMO, is specious at best, outright fraud at worst.
 
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Theinsanegamer

Posts: 2,206   +3,026
"but but but Theinsanegamer; why dont you want a connected electric car? You love other technology! Why dont you want to embrace SMART tech?"

Me: *shows them this article*.

If I cant own it, I certainly am not going to pay anywhere near full price for it.
 
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brucek

Posts: 711   +944
TechSpot Elite
I'm unclear from this article if Tesla is stating that auto-pilot may never be re-sold and will always be stripped on title transfer; or if they are alleging the initial purchaser of this vehicle never paid for it, and the fact it was ever on was a mistake that was corrected.

The first seems like something they could attempt, if they thought it was smart, and if they were clever with the initial sales/licensing contract, although it would likely still be challenged; and would be more generally widely known. The second seems like a non-event.
 

Freddie159

Posts: 77   +46
I'm unclear from this article if Tesla is stating that auto-pilot may never be re-sold and will always be stripped on title transfer; or if they are alleging the initial purchaser of this vehicle never paid for it, and the fact it was ever on was a mistake that was corrected.

The first seems like something they could attempt, if they thought it was smart, and if they were clever with the initial sales/licensing contract, although it would likely still be challenged; and would be more generally widely known. The second seems like a non-event.
But if Tesla removed it then doesn't that mean the customer should get some kind of a refund because the car is no longer as "premium" as it was when it was sold? It seems as though Tesla has put the dealer right in the middle of the controversy by doing this and the customer and the dealer should team up and sue Tesla.
 

brucek

Posts: 711   +944
TechSpot Elite
Still not clear which scenario you're talking about?

#1 - If the dealer ordered the car without those features from the factory; and did not pay for them; and the car was never documented as having those features; then the fact some brief glitch had them enabled for a couple days does not entitle the dealer to advertise the car as something it's not. The buyer should have a straight forward case against the dealer for fraud though. It could be a criminal case if the "brief glitch" was caused by the dealer through a hack or they knew it to be an initial free demo period or somesuch.

#2 - If the dealer did pay for those features, and they were on the car's manifest, and the customer paid for them, and then Tesla tried to revoke them over some non-transferable clause -- while perhaps Tesla could attempt to defend that, the lack of having heard more about this makes me doubt this is actually their policy, especially when you factor in the quote from the Tesla Used Advisor. If it was their policy, it would make the features less valuable to the original purchaser, and they would likely lose at least some sales over it.
 
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Indianapolis

Posts: 9   +5
This is not only a problem for the second-hand buyer. It also impacts the original buyer, as it will reduce the resale value of the car if key features will be disabled when the original owner goes to sell the car. It should make prospective buyers think twice about dealing with the company.
 
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B

bas416

All the car makers will do this. You get the bare metal at some reduced cost and then need to pay extra licenses that you don't own. When you resell the buyer can decide to ride around with the bare metal, or pay again for the licenses. Clever move.
 

cliffordcooley

Posts: 12,643   +6,026
Clever move.
I wouldn't exactly call screwing people over a clever move. It's not as if they are providing a service. It is a feature that doesn't require any service or maintenance from Tesla. Tesla is only doing this to save their own skin. Because they don't want to be responsible for further autopilot failures. I'm certainly taking this as an admission that they or their cars are not ready to be autonomous.
 
Something similar happens with PC games, basically the second hand market is dying out as you have to activate the game say on steam and after that if you wanted to sell it to someone else they won’t be able to use the same code but they will be able to purchase a new one for you guessed it full price!
It's not quite the same.
The license as you describe it, is tied to your account,
whoever has the account, has the game;
you can use your game from any hardware that has Steam installed and authenticated.
For Sony Play Station, at least, the game is tied to the disk
whoever has the disk, has the game;
you can play the game from any PS.
The Autopilot is tied to the car
whoever has the car should have the Autopilot.
It's not like you bought the option and can use it on any other Tesla you bought without the option.
Conclusion: the bastards.
 
B

bas416

I wouldn't exactly call screwing people over a clever move. It's not as if they are providing a service. It is a feature that doesn't require any service or maintenance from Tesla. Tesla is only doing this to save their own skin. Because they don't want to be responsible for further autopilot failures. I'm certainly taking this as an admission that they or their cars are not ready to be autonomous.
If they keep updating, they are actually providing a service. It is not an admission, it is the direction all manufacturers will take, hey, you are going to pay again and again for a car until it gets to the junkyard! Now you pay once and from that point it's only a burden for the manufacturer. From now on the more gets resold the more potential chances for generating paying customers.
 
This is not only a problem for the second-hand buyer. It also impacts the original buyer, as it will reduce the resale value of the car if key features will be disabled when the original owner goes to sell the car. It should make prospective buyers think twice about dealing with the company.
To me, it sounds like theft. Once you paid for a software that comes with dedicated hardware, said software has to be bound to the hardware.
What's next? Non-transferable warranty?
 

cliffordcooley

Posts: 12,643   +6,026
What are you suggesting? Are you suggesting Microsoft should deactivate Windows, when they can't update? All because they want to continue updating our machines.

Updating is a service. The vehicle being autonomous is not. Keeping the vehicle features activated all because of updates is a grey area.
 

Freddie159

Posts: 77   +46
If they keep updating, they are actually providing a service. It is not an admission, it is the direction all manufacturers will take, hey, you are going to pay again and again for a car until it gets to the junkyard! Now you pay once and from that point it's only a burden for the manufacturer. From now on the more gets resold the more potential chances for generating paying customers.
Wouldn't it just be easier to NOT update some software on resold vehicles unless the new owner comes in and pays for it, safety things should always be free. When I buy a used vehicle from some othercompany I get the software version that was on the car at the time it was made not the version that was released yesterday. It seems to me Tesla has created a problem for itself that it now can't handle, it could also just be easier to only update cars remotely that are still under the original warranty and all other cars need to be paid for by the new owner to continue getting them. Again EXCEPT for safety related things.