Let’s say a family member gave you their old laptop or computer and did not bother wiping or formatting it. On the computer, there are a bunch of software and services that belonged to the previous owner. Would you, legally, have the right to use that software and services even though you did not buy them?
That’s the situation a Model S owner has found themselves in, where they bought a Model S from a third-party dealer who had previously bought the car from Tesla via an auction back in 2019. It seems that Tesla believes that because the car’s new owner did not pay for some features, such as Autopilot, they have disabled it in the car.
The car, when originally bought from Tesla, was bought with all the fixings and were advertised by the dealer when they sold the car. However, when the car was bought by its new owner, Tesla remotely disabled those features after it had conducted a software “audit”. Tesla is now telling the new owner that if he wants those features back, he will need to personally pay them $8,000, which is the cost of those features had he bought the car directly from the company and opted to include those upgrades.
When the new owner reached out to Tesla, he was told:
“Tesla has recent identified instances of customers being incorrectly configured for Autopilot versions that they did not pay for. Since, there was an audit done to correct these instances. Your vehicle is one of the vehicles that was incorrectly configured for Autopilot. We looked back at your purchase history and unfortunately Full-Self Driving was not a feature that you had paid for. We apologize for the confusion. If you are still interested in having those additional features we can begin the process to purchase the upgrade.”
We’re not sure about the legality of Tesla’s actions, but it does raise some concerns about how our cars are becoming increasingly connected these days, where carmakers now have the ability to remotely disable features which previously might have needed physical access to do so.