Following our story that Elon Musk has begun cracking down on referral program abusers and will “shut down” the use of referral codes by non-friends, the company has issued an official email warning select Tesla owners that their referral codes will be deactivated if it’s not used in accordance to the company’s Referral Program Terms.
The email is in response to a tweet by station2station and addressed to Musk, asking the serial tech entrepreneur to do away with referral code abuse by YouTubers that are “hustling” their channels to gain referrals.
@station2stat @TeslaMotors Will shut that down. The point is to provide something special that only existing owners can give to friends and it is limited to 5 people.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 24, 2017
We initially called the motive behind the tweet as “sour grapes”, but station2station defends their argument that some Tesla-owning YouTubers are seemingly creating content to click-bait viewers into using their referral code. Something that we agree would cheapen the brand image of Tesla if true. However, many would argue that it’s a fine line between what’s perceived as acceptable referral code etiquette that’s used in “good faith”, and one that violates a loosely defined Tesla Referral Program Terms.
Adhering a vinyl sticker on the back of your Tesla that reads, “Ask me how I can help you save $1000 on a new Tesla” could certainly be viewed as cheapening Tesla’s brand, as station2station points out. But calling out YouTubers in a general sense, many of whom have brought immense value to the greater Tesla community, seems unnecessary.
Regardless, Tesla responded swiftly. The following email was sent by Tesla to some Model S and Model X-owning YouTubers.
From: “Tesla” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Reminder: Referral Program Terms
Thank you for your participation in the Tesla Referral Program. Every referral you make helps to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy, and we appreciate your support.
The intent of the program is to provide owners with something special to give to their friends. As such, commercializing, advertising, publishing, mass distributing, or selling referral codes is not appropriate.
We kindly ask that you remove your code from any broadly distributed channels. We will be deactivating any referral codes which do not comply with these guidelines.
Thank you for your continued support and understanding.
The Tesla Team
We’re not certain what the future holds for Tesla’s Referral Program and how the company might be able to govern what’s deemed as right and wrong, on top of who’s considered a “friend” of a Tesla owner and who isn’t, but the Now You Know folks seem to have a great suggestion: tell me what my favorite color is and I’ll qualify you as a friend.