Tesla's changing its deposit, return and exchange policies to help save cash

With the way the new policies are spelled out, it kind of makes the old ones seem crazy.

Kyle Hyatt Former news and features editor
Kyle Hyatt (he/him/his) hails originally from the Pacific Northwest, but has long called Los Angeles home. He's had a lifelong obsession with cars and motorcycles (both old and new).
Kyle Hyatt
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You bought a Model S, you keep it for a few weeks and decide that nope, you don't want red. So, you return it and order the same car in a different color, right? Not anymore.

Manuel Carrillo III/Roadshow

It's not a secret that Tesla's been on a financial roller coaster ride pretty much since it hung up its proverbial shingle, and of course, that's not a great way for a company to operate. In an effort to shore up profits, Tesla's CEO Elon Musk has made a few changes to the way the company deals with customers.

Specifically, the company is revising its policies surrounding the return and exchange of its vehicles, as well as the way it handles customer deposits. With deposits, the company is nixing its policy of taking $1,000 refundable customer deposits. Instead, according to a report published Thursday by CNBC, it's dropping the cost of a deposit to just $100 and making that amount non-refundable. 

That change makes a lot of sense because dealing with refunds takes people and time, which means it takes money -- likely a lot more money than the deposits are realistically worth. I mean, plunking down $100 on a Tesla and then changing your mind isn't so bad. It's about as much as buying a single ticket to Disneyland and way less depressing.

As far as the vehicle return and exchange policies go, things are a little more complicated. Tesla has amended the text on its website to more clearly outline the new policy, and it reads as follows:

"Once you have returned your vehicle, the return process is final and may not be canceled. At this time, we are not able to facilitate vehicle exchanges. If you decide to order another vehicle, you may not order the same trim for a period of 12 months but may order another vehicle in a different trim at any time. However, if you are found to have abused this policy or have acted in bad faith, you will be prohibited from purchasing any vehicle for a period of 12 months."

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Now, sure, that language may seem a little intense, even draconian, but if people really were buying and then returning their cars so frequently that this was an issue (which let's face it, if there's a policy prohibiting it, it was probably an issue) then that had to have been a severe drain on resources for the company.

Tesla didn't immediately respond to Roadshow's request for comment.

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