Have you ever eagerly answered a phone call only to be greeted by silence, indiscernible chatter, background noise, or an entire conversation being had about you? The butt dial has become an epidemic since the proliferation of button-less touchscreen smart phones. This dreaded event happens when your smartphone dials someone you didn’t mean to call (or vise versa), as your phone chills in your back pocket, putting all your business out there.
The only thing worse that the embarrassment of butt dialing someone is a less known but increasingly common phenomenon where you butt spend via in-app purchases or or make other purchases due to the fact that you have previously linked your credit card to the platform inadvertently being accessed.
Case in point, a doctor named Ali Vaziri recently found out that he just butt-dialed his way to a $4,280 in-app purchase through his Tesla app. Folks if it can happen to a doctor, there is no hope for us.
Tesla has done an amazing job with their their online experience, designing their app with a laser focus on simplicity and ease of use. This however happens to be a two edged sword because on one hand, Tesla has made it really easy for Tesla owners to access new features and upgrades for their vehicles all from within the Tesla app. But on the other hand, Tesla has made is extremely easy to purchase the features and upgrades, so easy that your butt can do it.
That’s exactly what happened to Dr. Ali Vaziri, who was recently surprised to find that he had upgraded to a pricey Enhanced Autopilot mode on his Tesla Model 3, by hitting on the upgrade button on his Tesla vehicle app and then paying without knowing it.
“My phone was in my jeans,” Vaziri told CNBC. “I took it out, put it on this charger that comes with your Tesla and that’s it. A minute later? I got the text. I’ve never purchased anything through the Tesla app before.”
Normally an accidental in-app purchase would not warrant national coverage from CNBC. However when you take into account that in-app purchases in via the Tesla app can run as high as $5000 or even $10,000, you can begin to understand the outrage.
Dr. Vaziri said he complained to Tesla, but to no avail. He even went as far as to call the company’s customer service “horrendous” and is still yet to receive a refund. Also as you can see from the above screenshot, Tesla only allows customers a 48 hour refund policy which is really not enough time for purchases of this magnitude.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk seems to be aware of the problem from a September tweet exchange between Musk and another Tesla owner – Stefan Peterson, who complained that he too had accidentally purchased an Acceleration Boost, costing around $2000. Similar to Vaziri’s experience with Tesla’s customer service, Tesla was not forthcoming with a refund as shown this actual text exchange between Peterson and a Tesla customer service rep.
To add insult to injury, Musk even made light of the situation with the response, “Trust ur butt haha.”. I am curious to know if that customer eventually got a refund after it was brought to Musk’s attention because Musk is known for taking swift actions to address customer grievances brought to his attention. If anything, Stefan now has a Musk approved slogan which he can use for his new t-shirt business to pay off his $2000 Tesla bill.
The butt dial can be easily avoided by making sure you keep your phone locked with a passcode when not in use. Without a defensive lock screen, it is possible that your device can be mistakingly turned on and any number of apps can be launched. Once the phone is awake, it can even make calls via Siri if it hears your voice.
With larger ticket items going online via in-app purchases, this is a problem that will continue to afflict the technology enabled masses. My hope is that companies understand that this is happening and devote as much resources into making the refund process just as easy as the purchase process.