How could this happen?
A brand new Tesla isn't exactly cheap. The least expensive Tesla Model 3 only starts at $40,000. But when owners are being charged by the EV automaker for something they never purchased, that's a significant problem. This is exactly what's been happening. According to author Nassim Taleb, via Twitter, he was charged for in-app purchases he never made. More precisely, Taleb claims the purchases were made while his phone was in his pocket. All told, he was charged over $4,000.
He rightly took his anger to Twitter following an exchange he had with Tesla customer support representatives, who proved to be less than helpful. They claimed it was company policy that all vehicle upgrade app purchases were final and non-refundable. Problem was, Taleb never intended to make them in the first place.
Elon Musk later got wind of Taleb's post and personally intervened, saying he would make sure the issue was resolved and that refunds, in general, should not be this difficult to get. The story could end there but it doesn't.
Taleb, the well-known author of books such as "The Black Swan" and "Skin in the Game," was not impressed with Musk's reply. He replied thanking him for his attention on the matter but, at the same time, made clear his celebrity status and many Twitter followers should not grant him VIP treatment. "I am not interested in such a refund if other people equally affected don't get fair treatment."
Electrek recently reported on a similar instance where another owner claimed they were charged $9,700 for full self-driving and acceleration boost upgrades for no apparent reason. It remains unclear whether that money was refunded but since this owner was not famous, Elon Musk personally didn't intervene.
Until Tesla announces security and purchasing process changes to the app, owners and users should use it with some caution. There is a menu displaying the various upgrade options, so perhaps it'd best to avoid that feature completely for the time being. Having thousands of dollars charged to your credit card for something you didn't intend to buy can be a difficult process to undo.