South Korea’s Fair Trade Commission, the number one antitrust watchdog in the country, has ordered Tesla to amend several aspects of its terms and conditions for vehicle purchases and deliveries. The amendments, which were intended to take away “unfair” rules that were detrimental to local customers, were fully implemented voluntarily by Tesla since Friday last week.
The announcement of Tesla’s updated terms and conditions was announced by officials on Tuesday. As noted in The Korea Herald, the updates were intended to address Tesla’s “unfair” rules for local customers, particularly those which indicate that buyers are fully responsible for picking up their orders, and that customers are responsible for any damage inflicted on their vehicles during the purchase process.
Tesla entered South Korea in 2017 with the flagship Model S sedan and the Model X SUV, but it was only until the Model 3 entered the country did the company build some serious momentum. Since launching last year, the Model 3 has taken the lion’s share of the country’s EV market, commanding 43% of the total segment in the first half of 2020. This was despite the presence of well-rounded and affordable EVs from local brands such as the Hyundai Kona Electric and the Kia Niro EV.
In a statement to the Herald, Lee Tae-hwi, the head of the Fair Trade Commission’s terms and conditions examination division, noted that Tesla’s updated rules ensure that local customers are protected. “By correcting unfair terms and conditions of Tesla, customers’ rights will be guaranteed institutionally,” Lee said.
Complaints to the FTC about Tesla’s terms and conditions emerged earlier this year, with customers alleging that the company was implementing unfair contracts. Buyers reported that if damages occur to a vehicle they purchased, the company simply issued a 100,000 won ($84) refund, which only corresponded to a part of the car’s order fee. Others alleged that Tesla refused to take responsibility for any issues reported after a car’s designated delivery period.
With its updated terms and conditions, Tesla has stated that it would be compensating customers for their loss and inconvenience if the damages to their vehicles were intentional or caused by negligence. Tesla also noted that it will be liable for damages that happen during the delivery process. The company added that it will take responsibility for issues in its vehicles even after the designated delivery period has passed. Also, orders could only be canceled by Tesla if the vehicle in question was used in illegal transactions, such as unauthorized resales or crimes.
Apart from these, the updated terms and conditions prevent Tesla from transferring contracts made with its customers at its discretion. Transfers of contracts now would need to be made in accordance with South Korea’s relevant statutes. Lastly, the electric car maker is expected to start delivering cars to a customer’s preferred location for an additional fee. This gives more options for buyers, particularly those who prefer to not pick up their cars from a delivery center.
It should be noted that Tesla is not the only automaker being affected by the South Korea FTC’s initiatives. According to the watchdog agency, the terms and conditions of other foreign automakers such as Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz, and Renault, could also be recommended for amendments. Such updates benefit the consumer, after all, as they incentivize companies to ensure that their vehicles are in their best condition when they are handed over to customers.