“The cars are fantastic, but the customer service leaves a lot to be desired,” Peter Morley, a Tesla customer who bought a Model Y, told The Portugal News.

The trouble started when he ordered a wall box to charge his car, and it was cancelled and refunded “due to the fact that delivery abroad is not allowed,” according to one of Tesla’s e-commerce customer support workers in Peter’s correspondence with the company. Another worker then said the reason actually wasn’t due to the delivery being abroad, “but because he was trying to deliver it to a post box address”; “when it’s a post box, they don’t make the delivery,” they said, only for the original worker to get back to him, saying “we do not deliver to certain regions in Portugal and incorrectly placed your shipping address in one of those areas.”

Eventually, Peter got his Model Y, but that wasn’t the end. He realised that the software package he had ordered “was incomplete,” namely the “Summon,” “Smart Summon” and “Parking Assistance” features were missing. He was originally told it would take “2 weeks” to install these updates, but it turns out the features aren’t “available in Portugal and cars can no longer be ordered with these specifications”. Additionally, he was told he “will not receive a refund for these three missing features.”

Registration documents

Furthermore, more importantly, it took “almost 3 months” to receive his vehicle registration document and in the meantime could only drive for “60 days” at a time in which the vehicle guide was still valid until he had to renew it. “Many” other clients were “unable to obtain a replacement guide every 60 days”, losing the ability to drive legally for days at a time. “Tesla have consistently blamed clients’ failure to complete forms correctly and yet in many cases have not contacted their customers at all about this issue.”

It was at this point when Tesla sent an email to him and “circa 70 other people, exposing all their email addresses” to each other.

“First of all, most of us had already confirmed with him that the form is right,” another customer who received that email, who chose to remain anonymous, stated. “Then I considered my privacy was breached, I reached out to Tesla, and they said that no compensation would be provided because this breach did not lead to any material loss.”

According to the European Union’s General Regulation on Personal Data, a personal data breach is “a breach of security leading to the accidental or unlawful destruction, loss, alteration, unauthorised disclosure of, or access to, personal data transmitted, stored, and otherwise processed.” Data controllers are required to assess these risks and take the appropriate measures to prevent them. Later on in the legislation, it’s stated that “every data subject shall have the right to lodge a complaint with a supervisory authority […] if the data subject considers that the processing of personal data relating to him or her infringes this Regulation,” and that “any person who has suffered material or non-material damage as a result of an infringement of this Regulation shall have the right to receive compensation from the controller or processor for the damage suffered.”

“Tesla aren’t even properly apologising, there’s not even been a call,” the customer said. “Our registrations still haven’t been processed and it’s a real mess, 60 to 70 of us are stuck without car registrations. We can be stopped by the GNR at any point in time. Some of us, like me, are new immigrants to the country. We don’t really understand Portuguese, and it’s becoming a bigger issue, but Tesla aren’t even looking to resolve it.”

“The cars are amazing, but the customer service is really bad, even the helpline doesn’t help you,” he concluded.

Peter Morley believes Tesla’s customer service workers may be spread too thin. “They seem to have one office to service the entire country.”

Tesla sold 496 cars in the month of July and has sold 4,604 units since the start of the year, according to AutoInforma, over double the sales volume of the next most widespread EV brand (Peugeot, 2021 electric cars sold).

The Portugal News contacted Telsa in Portugal but no comment on the situation was shared by the company at the time of going to press.


Star in the 2015 music video for the hit single “Headlights” by German musician, DJ and record producer Robin Schulz featuring American singer-songwriter Ilsey. Also a journalist.

Jay Bodsworth