Tesla Uses Test-Drivers’ Personal Info For Marketing: Suit

By Rachel Graf

Law360, New York (September 21, 2017, 5:11 PM EDT) -- Tesla Inc. stores and transmits consumers' personal information to credit companies that assess drivers' creditworthiness for the automaker's marketing and sales purposes, a driver has alleged in a proposed class action filed in California federal court. Wayne Skiles said Tuesday that Tesla scans the licenses of consumers who test-drive their vehicles, and uses an iPad app designed specifically by Appstem to store that information. Tesla then distributes the information to third parties including Experian, which score the consumer's creditworthiness, and Tesla then uses this information for its own marketing purposes, the suit alleges.

"Through this scheme, Tesla deceptively obtained and subsequently used consumers' personal information for an impermissible purpose without the knowledge or consent of the consumers," Skiles said in the complaint.

Skiles said he visited a Tesla showroom in California in 2015, and gave a product specialist his driver's license for what he believed to be a routine check of his driving ability. The product specialist scanned Skiles' driver's license with an iPad, and asked him to enter his phone number and email, which Skiles believed would be deleted after his license was verified, according to the suit.

But his information was immediately uploaded to Tesla's Salesforce marketing database and sent to Experian, the complaint alleges. Experian then sent back to Tesla insights about Skiles' credit, which Tesla used for marketing purposes, according to the filing.

Skiles says he never agreed to share his personal information for Tesla's marketing purposes.

He seeks to represent a class of people whose driver's license information was used for Tesla's marketing without their consent within four years of the filing of the complaint and a separate class of people whose driver's licenses were used to obtain a consumer report without consent within two years of the filing of the complaint.

Skiles alleges violations of the Driver's Privacy Protection Act, Electronic Communications Privacy Act and the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

A Tesla representative didn't respond Thursday to a request for comment. Counsel for Skiles declined to comment.

Skiles is represented by Abbas Kazerounian, Mike Kazerouni, Jason A. Ibey and Emily C. Beecham of Kazerouni Law Group APC and Joshua B. Swigart of Hyde & Swigart.

Counsel information for Tesla was not available Thursday.

The case is Wayne Skiles v. Tesla Inc. et al., case number 3:17-cv-05434, in the U.S. District Court for the

Northern District of California.

--Editing by Jack Karp.