Tesla is angering some Tesla certified repair shops after the automaker used its contact to try to recruit the technicians that those shops paid to train on Tesla cars.

Tesla and body repair shops

The automaker has had a difficult relationship with body shops. Tesla owners have been complaining about repair time after accidents for a long time, but it came back to the forefront of Tesla news in 2017.

It can sometimes take months for repairs to be completed.

Tesla placed the fault on its third-party body shops, and the body shops were saying that it’s Tesla’s fault due to part delays.

At that time, in order to address the situation, Tesla moved some of its training programs online, and it looked to certify more equipment in order to expand options for repair shops to be certified to work on Tesla vehicles.

After the changes, the automaker said it was “adding 300 body shops to its network.” These body shops had to make significant investments in training their technicians and buying equipment to serve Tesla owners.

Despite those initiatives, Tesla owners have still reported some long wait times with third-party body shops. In 2019, Tesla said that it would launch its own in-house “Body Repair Centers” to try to reduce repair time.

However, the program has been limited to small repairs, like “paint scuffs and scratches, minor dents as well as bumper, fender, door, side mirrors, and other bolt-on replacements.”

Earlier this year, Tesla finally launched its own in-house collision repair shops that offered body repairs.

Tesla has now 15 of its own collision centers in the US.

Tesla competing with its certified body shops

Third-party Tesla-certified body shops are still the most important part of Tesla’s collision repair, but now the automaker is angering some of them by trying to recruit their technicians.

Repairer Driven News reports:

“Collision repair shop owners and employees are reporting Tesla emails blatantly recruiting their certified Tesla technicians and estimators and even their acquaintances with the same resume.”

The report states that third-party Tesla-certified collision shops have NDAs that prevent them from publicly talking about the situation, but one shop shared an email that a Tesla recruiter sent to their technicians and estimators:

The email is phrased to directly seem like they are recruiting the certified technicians, but the shops say that the intention is clear:

“Hi, Thank you for being a part of Tesla’s TACC network! Tesla is looking for experienced Collision Technicians who can join the team in San Jose, CA. I’m reaching out to see if you know anyone in your network that would be interested in working at Tesla. I have attached our benefit one pager for you to review.”

The shops say that Tesla is using an email list of technicians that the shops sent to them for training.

One of the collision shops told Repairer Driven News that they are considering legal action.

Electrek’s Take

The legality of it probably depends on the local work contracts and poaching laws state-by-state, but it’s certainly problematic from an ethical standpoint.

These shops invested time and money into certifying their employees to work on Tesla vehicles and help solve Tesla’s body repair problem, and now Tesla is sneakily trying to poach those technicians.

We also have to consider the issue regarding Tesla’s direct sale and service approach.

Tesla has been fighting the misuse of direct sale laws put in place to protect dealerships against automakers who used their investments to grow their sale and service presence, and could simply open their own local stores to unfairly compete with them.

Dealerships have been using these laws to prevent Tesla from opening its stores and service centers despite the electric automaker never having third-party dealerships to unfairly compete with.

I’ve always defended Tesla in these battles, but now when it comes to collision repair shops, Tesla has used the third-party model, and now it looks like it is trying to unfairly compete with some of those shops.

What do you think? Let us know in the comment section below.

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