Tesla’s clean-energy division Tesla Energy has an entire team dedicated to scanning the internet for customer complaints and people badmouthing its CEO Elon Musk, according to a new Insider report.
Two former employees that spoke with the outlet under the condition of anonymity said that in addition to resolving issues that customers complained about online, Tesla staff were instructed to ask customers to delete their posts.
A team of more than 20 employees searched for customer complaints on social media and review sites, while a separate team of nine people hunted for posts that targeted Musk specifically, an ex-employee said in an interview with Insider. Their former role involved handling complaints through Tesla’s official customer support service as opposed to those posted on social media. However, they told the outlet they were also expected to comb through the internet for pissed off Tesla customers during their “downtime” on the job—which was all but non-existent as they already worked through breaks to avoid getting swamped with issues from Tesla’s customer service pipeline alone.
Another ex-employee who worked as a manager at Tesla Energy until last year, said that staff tasked with scouring social media “would basically just look up #TeslaEnergy, #Elon, just anything that has to do with Tesla and energy and Elon.” This seems to be supported by a job listing Tesla put out earlier this year looking for full-time staff to “address social media escalations directed at the CEO,” as first spotted by reporter Jay Boller on Twitter. A smart move on Tesla’s part given the track record of expensive legal repercussions for Musk’s bad tweets.
The former manager told Insider that customers could sometimes receive a faster response by complaining on social media rather than going through Tesla’s customer service channels.
One Tesla Energy customer who spoke with the outlet said their dedicated project manager instructed them to do just after experiencing a problem with their solar roof contract.
“She told me to go online and complain ... on Twitter or Facebook, because she said the only thing this company listens to is social media sentiment,” said the customer, who asked not to be named in Insider’s report.
Though even after posting about the issue on Twitter, Tesla apparently never reached out. In a May report about the company purportedly ghosting customers for months on end, one prospective customer Insider spoke with had better luck on that end. After his requests for a consultation with his assigned Tesla rep went ignored, the rep finally called to apologize and address his concerns after he complained about his experience on Twitter, he told the outlet.
Tesla did not immediately respond to Gizmodo’s request for comment, though that may be because the company dissolved its PR department last October. In the meantime, it sounds like if you’re having issues getting a response from Tesla Energy reps, your best bet may just be to put them on blast on social media.