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Spotify Offers Car Thing Refunds Amid Lawsuit

Spotify's decision to discontinue support for Car Thing, its in-car streaming device, has triggered widespread criticism
May 31, 2024

Spotify is facing significant backlash following its decision to discontinue support for its in-car streaming device, Car Thing. Announced earlier in May, the device will cease to function starting December 9, 2024. The news has sparked discontent among Gen Z users on TikTok, who express their frustration with Spotify’s recommendation to switch to Android Auto or CarPlay—options they often cannot access due to the lack of built-in infotainment systems in their cars.

Car Thing, launched in February 2022 and discontinued later that year, was initially kept operational for existing users. Spotify CEO Daniel Ek had touted consumer demand for the device, with over 2 million users signing up for the waitlist ahead of its release. However, the gadget seemingly underperformed or became financially unsustainable amid a tightening economic climate, which saw Spotify laying off approximately 1,500 staffers last year.

Despite these challenges, Car Thing users are primarily concerned with their now-obsolete $90 device. Many have taken to social media, contacting Spotify through DMs on X and emails shared on Reddit, to demand refunds. Some users report receiving several months of Premium subscription as compensation, while others have been told no reimbursements are available.

In response to growing backlash, Spotify recently established a refund process for Car Thing, contingent upon proof of purchase. This information was communicated in a follow-up email to affected users, guiding them to customer support without guaranteeing refunds.

The dissatisfaction continues to echo across TikTok, where users are pleading with Spotify to reconsider deactivating Car Thing. Comments on Spotify’s posts frequently reflect this sentiment, with users highlighting the potential e-waste and safety concerns of using phones for navigation.

Adding to Spotify’s woes, a class-action lawsuit has been filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The suit alleges that Spotify misled consumers by selling a product destined for obsolescence without offering refunds. While Spotify has not commented on the lawsuit, a spokesperson reiterated the company’s intent to learn from the Car Thing experiment and emphasized the availability of other ways to enjoy Spotify in cars.

This controversy arrives at a challenging time for Spotify, as the company faces criticism over recent paywalls for features like lyrics and planned subscription rate increases in 2024. With user frustration mounting, Spotify's efforts to maintain customer satisfaction and trust are more critical than ever.

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