Tesla let me down and a patent dispute forces Apple to stop selling the Apple Watch

Plus the Lenovo Legion Go, the Fediverse and how I saved $2,300 this week

Tesla let me down and a patent dispute forces Apple to stop selling the Apple Watch

I’ve owned a Tesla Model 3 since June of 2019. What’s that, nearly 4.5 years? During that time, I’ve encountered minimal issues with the car. I had my 12V battery go out about a year ago, maybe a little longer. But that took hardly any effort on my part to get fixed.

The car alerted me there was an issue, I submitted a ticket through the app while having dinner, and a few minutes later I started getting text messages from the Mobile Service tech who’s worked on my car a few times, in my driveway. He let me know the error messages I was receiving meant that I should get the car home and leave it parked until the battery could be replaced.

He offered to drive to my house (an hour away from where he lives) before 7 am the next day to replace the battery, just so I could take the car on a trip I had scheduled the next day. I declined and told him to schedule my service date for the following week, when the battery was swapped, under warranty.

The rest of my Tesla customer service encounters have been similar. There’s an issue, I file a ticket, someone reaches out, provides a timely solution, and we all move on.

Until last Sunday, when Tesla, totally, and utterly let me down.

My Model 3, like all Teslas, lacks a spare tire. Instead, if you get a flat tire, you’re supposed to contact Tesla’s Roadside Assitance — a service that’s included with every Tesla — and they’ll then bring you a loaner tire you can use until you get your tire repaired, or tow you to a service center to get your tire fixed.

On Sunday, as I was driving my son to his basketball game with my entire family in the car, a small metal ladder fell off the truck in front of me. Before I had a chance to swerve out of the way completely, the ladder hit my front passenger tire, puncturing the sidewall, before flying in the air and hitting the rear quarter panel of my car, leaving it dented and scarred.

I immediately pulled over, ready to assess the damage and fix anything I could. It quickly became apparent there was no way to fix the tire, so I used the Tesla app to contact roadside assistance. I answered a few questions in the app, and then the same questions once again after I got a text message from a Tesla employee.

The conversation started, not by asking if everyone was alright, but by the employee asking what kind of tire I had on my car. Straight and to the point. I assumed this was to verify I would receive the right size of loaner tire.

However, once I revealed that I had aftermarket tires on my car, I was promptly informed that I no longer qualify for Tesla’s roadside assistance service due to no longer having factory tires on my car.

I could, however, still use Tesla to find a provider to tow me to a tire repair center, at my expense. Because I had already told Tesla the situation, my location and where I needed the car towed (back to my house), I asked them to go ahead and find someone for me.

Seven minutes later, the Tesla representative told me that he hadn’t received a reply from any local providers and that I should make some calls on my own or contact my car insurance company to use its roadside assistance service.

This… isn’t what I was sold on when I bought my Tesla. I was told that roadside assistance would be there to help me, no matter where I was, or the time of day. Instead, because I’ve owned my car long enough I had to replace my tires, I was penalized for doing so.

For what it’s worth, Tesla’s Roadside Assistance website has a list of the services it offers. Here’s what’s covered under the Flat Tire section:

I don’t see anywhere on the page that mentions aftermarket tires not being covered. (You have to read the service’s full terms and conditions to find that important information.)

Additionally, I just looked at Tesla’s online store, and as far as I can tell, you can’t buy new tires, unless you want to buy winter-specific tires and rims for almost $2,000. Or maybe you can buy tires, directly from a service center?

I can’t even tell you how frustrating the entire experience was, especially as someone who’s long touted roadside assistance as a benefit that you get, just for owning the car.

Lesson learned.

Apple stops selling the Apple Watch Ultra and Series 9 in the US due to patent dispute

On Monday, Apple issued a statement to 9to5Mac saying the company would stop selling the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 in the US to comply a ruling from the ITC, banning Apple from selling either watch in the US after Dec. 24.

The patent dispute with Masimo involves Apple’s implementation of the blood-oxygen monitoring feature in both watches, as well as models dating back to the Apple Watch Series 6. The only Apple Watch it doesn’t apply to is the Apple Watch SE, which will continue to be sold by Apple.

There are a few different potential outcomes to how this all plays out:

  • President Biden has until December 25 to veto the ruling, giving Apple a pass.
  • Apple could settle with Masimo, paying licensing fees for each Apple Watch sold.
  • Apple could issue a software update to disable or alter the feature.
  • Apple could change the hardware in impacted Apple Watch models.
  • Apple has already said it would appeal the decision, but that process can take up to 18 months before there’s a decision.
  • Apple could start to manufacture the Apple Watch inside the US, bypassing the import ban.

The Verge has a good breakdown of the various scenarios, if you want more analysis.

There’s no telling what’s going to happen over the next few days, but if you’ve been on the fence about getting a new Apple Watch, it may make sense to buy one in the next few days. Best Buy has several models on sale leading up to Christmas.

From my understanding, retailers like Best Buy and Target will be able to sell through their existing stock of impacted Apple Watch models.

What I’ve had published this week:

Another week of getting stories ready for the holiday break and testing devices I plan on reviewing over the next few weeks. But I did have some time to write up two stories about the Kindle Scribe. More specifically, one walks users through how to get the most out of the pen and another one details the Scribe’s Notes feature.

Other tidbits from the week:

NordVPN launches for the Apple TV, stream from anywhere

Apple added VPN app support to TVOS 17, the current operating system for the Apple TV. Since the release of TVOS 17 in September, we’ve slowly seen various VPN apps make their way to the Apple TV App Store, however arguably one of the most popular VPN apps made its way to the big screen this week: NordVPN.

You can use NordVPN on your Apple TV to connect to different countries if you want to access content that’s not available in your country. Or, you know, get around the ridiculous blackouts that professional sports leagues have.

You can sign up for NordVPN here. It’s $3 a month if you pay for two years of service upfront.

How switching to Google Chrome saved me $2,300

I’ve been trying to figure out why my M1 MacBook Pro has been running out of memory multiple times a day, resulting in poor performance. After watching Activity Monitor for a week or so, I found the problem: Apple’s Safari browser.

On one occasion, I watched as a tab started using 16GB of memory (all of the memory my Mac has!) before I closed the tab to stop the madness. I switched to Chrome this week and my MacBook is running as fast and smooth as it did when I got it in late 2020.

I was going to buy a $2,300 MacBook Pro, but it looks like that’s no longer needed. Thanks, Chrome!

The Fediverse is where it’s at

Meta has started to integrate its Threads platform with the fediverse, which is what powers Mastodon, using the ActivityPub standard. That’s a whole lot of jargon, and I don’t even fully understand it all, but this piece by David Pierce at The Verge does a good job explaining why this approach should be the future of all social networks.

And as someone who runs my own Mastodon server in my basement, I’m here for it.

Handheld gaming feels like the future

Lenovo sent me its Legion Go portable gaming handheld that runs Windows 11, has an 8.8-inch display, and is capable of running PC games while on the go. I’ve been using it to play way too much Fortnite and it’s buttery smooth.

But, the Legion Go suffers from the same issues I have with my Valve Steam Deck, namely that battery life is downright atrocious. That said, every time I get a new PC-like handheld gaming system to test, I’m more and more convinced that this is the future of gaming.

Where to find me on the socials

As much as I‘d love to walk away from all social networks, I’ve come to terms with the fact they’re a necessary evil. The general rule of thumb is I’m usually @MrCippy on all the things, but to make your life easier, here are direct links to where you can follow me:

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