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Tesla is being sued over its extremely reasonable Supercharger idle fees

Tesla is being sued by an owner over a quite dubious claim that the automaker walked back its claim of “free Supercharging for life.”

The claim is based on the fact that the automaker started charging Supercharger idle fees, which the Tesla community thought to be extremely reasonable.

When Tesla first introduced its Supercharger network in 2012, the automaker made it available for free for the life of the vehicles it was selling at the time.

That stayed the case for years until Tesla ramped up production of the Model 3, and the automaker needed to start to better manage the network as the fleet grew rapidly.

Now, new Tesla vehicles have to pay a fee per kWh or per minute at Supercharger stations.

Tesla vehicles that were sold with “free Supercharging for life” still don’t have to pay anything when charging on the network.

However, the automaker did introduce an idle fee that applies to all vehicles that are done charging and still parked in a Supercharger stall.

Tesla charges between $0.50 to $1.00 per minute that the car is parked without charging depending on how busy the station is, and there’s a five-minute grace period.

This fee has been well received within the Tesla community since it incentivizes people to use Supercharger stations as they should be used, which is as a charging station and not a parking spot.

Now, we learned that Tesla is facing a lawsuit filed by Kevin Shenkman, a 2014 Tesla Model S and lawyer, who seeks to represent all Tesla owners who were promised free Supercharging for life but are now facing idle fees.

In the lawsuit, which you can see in full further down, Shenkman describes how Tesla tried to charge him idle fees for leaving his car parked at a Supercharger after he was done charging, but he complained, and Tesla apparently ended up not charging him.

However, in 2020, it happened again, and this time, Tesla didn’t budge and actually cut off his access to the Supercharger network until he paid the fee for an amount that is not disclosed in the lawsuit.

Shenkman is trying to make his lawsuit a class action by representing other early Tesla owners.

The lawsuit also makes ridiculous claims like that the fee results in owners “not being able to leave their car unattended when charging without paying a fee”:

“In practice, this meant that customers would no longer be able to leave their vehicle unattended while it was charging and go and do something else, without paying Tesla for Supercharging, a change from how Tesla had previously marketed its vehicles.”

In practice, that’s inaccurate since when plugging in your car, the vehicle tells you when charging will be completed, and therefore, you can leave and come back at that time. On top of it, Tesla sends you a notification through its app to let you know that charging is completed, and you can simply return to your vehicle within five minutes or get charged a fee.

Here’s the lawsuit in full (via Plainsite):

[scribd id=513853407 key=key-IMaP883dJWshqoSiZwMJ mode=scroll]

Electrek’s Take

That has to be the dumbest thing I’ve heard in a while.

Hey Kevin, pay your idle fees and get over it. You’ll be able to charge for free at Supercharger stations again, just like Tesla promised. I know because I also have a Model S on the free Supercharging for life program, and I’ve never had to pay anything for it because I move the car after charging like a decent human being.

It looks like everyone except you can make the distinction between free Supercharging for life and free parking for life — the latter of which Tesla has never promised.

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