June 21, 2024
1 Solar System Way, Planet Earth, USA

Spotify offers refunds to Car Thing as it faces lawsuit for blocking streaming device

Spotify is facing continued backlash over its decision to discontinue support for Car Thing, its in-car streaming device. Announced beginnings of May. The device will stop working starting December 9, 2024, the company said. On TikTok, Gen Z users are posting videos to express their displeasure with Spotify's move and its recommended actions, such as switching to Android Auto or CarPlay. They often didn't have access to the infotainment systems built into their car in the first place, making them a target market for a dedicated player like Car Thing, users note.

The streaming service's in-car device hadn't been on the market long enough to make it obsolete. It was launched in February 2022 and was disrupted later that same year but with promises to keep it operational for those who already purchased units. Before its launch, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek had suggested that there was consumer demand for such a product. tell investors In an earnings call, more than 2 million users had signed up for Car Thing's waitlist ahead of its launch.

Image credits: Spotify

Although Spotify never shared official numbers, it's likely that Car Thing either underperformed or simply wasn't worth continuing to invest in in today's tighter economic market. The latter watched Spotify laying off around 1,500 personnel at the end of last year, for example, after cuts earlier in the year that had hundreds of people affected.

Car Thing users, however, don't care about the company's financial concerns; They just want their device to work, or at least be reimbursed for its $90 price tag.

That led to some attempting to complain directly to Spotify via direct messages on X with @SpotifyCares or via various emails from Spotify shared on Reddit. In doing so, some users reported that Spotify offered them several months of a Premium subscription to compensate for their loss, while others claimed that they asked for customer support and were told that no one would be refunded.

Spotify tells TechCrunch that it recently instituted a refund process for Car Thing, as long as the user has proof of purchase.

The ability to contact customer service was officially communicated to Car Thing users in a second email sent on Friday of last week after backlash grew over Car Thing's discontinuation. In it, Spotify directs users to correct customer support link to communicate with the company. However, the email does not promise any refunds, but says that users can reach out if they have questions.

While a refund may satisfy a portion of the user base that is upset about Car Thing, many are still pleading with the company via TikTok videos and in the comments on Spotify's TikTok posts to not brick their device. . (In fact, complaints about Car Thing are now so common in Spotify videos that the algorithmically recommended search TikTok suggests in some videos is “what's Spotify Car?”).

“SPOTIFY PLEASE FORGIVE ME 😭😭😭 I LOVE MY CAR” carla wrotea TikTok user who goes by @carlititica on the service.

“Sad,” another user wrote, @nikkilovestech. “It's like they want people to use their phones, which is distracting,” he wrote in the description of his video in which he shows a Car Thing mounted on his dashboard. In her video, she also commented on the e-waste that is generated by discontinuing a product that still works “perfectly well.”

Spotify's headaches over the discontinuation of Car Thing are not over yet, despite the recently introduced, though not widely publicized, refund process. The company is also facing a class-action lawsuit. filed in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York, which claims that Spotify misled consumers by selling them a soon-to-be-obsolete product and then not offering them refunds, Billboard reports. The lawsuit was filed on May 28.

Spotify cannot comment on the lawsuit, but a spokesperson shared the following statement regarding Car Thing:

The goal of our exploration of Car Thing in the US was to learn more about how people listen in the car. In July 2022, we announced that we would be stopping production and now it's time to say goodbye to the devices completely. Users will have until December 9, 2024 until all Car Thing devices are disabled. To learn more about all the ways you can still listen to Spotify in the car, check out For The Record, and Car Thing users can contact Customer Support with any questions: https://support.spotify.com/us/contact-spotify-support/

Although the issues around Car Thing won't affect Spotify's entire user base, the news comes at a time when users are already upset about being asked to pay more for things they consider essential to a music service. , such as access to letters. , a feature Spotify recently blocked. In addition to complaints about Car Thing, users are threatening to leave Spotify over paid access to lyrics.

Additionally, Spotify increased its subscription fees last year and another increase is on the way in 2024, Bloomberg reported.

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