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Spotify to Disable ‘Car Thing’ Devices Without Offering Refunds

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By Milcah Tanimu

Spotify has announced that it will disable all purchased Car Thing devices on December 9, without offering refunds or trade-in options. The company stated on a support page:

“We’re discontinuing Car Thing as part of our ongoing efforts to streamline our product offerings. We understand it may be disappointing, but this decision allows us to focus on developing new features and enhancements that will ultimately provide a better experience to all Spotify users.”

Spotify has not provided any further guidance for device owners, other than advising them to reset their devices to factory settings and dispose of them according to local electronic waste guidelines.

Car Thing, which never gained significant traction, was introduced in late 2021 but ceased production just a year later. Despite this, Spotify continued selling the product, even reducing its price by nearly half in an attempt to boost adoption. However, the decision to brick the device has left many customers with an expensive, now-useless gadget.

Spotify’s refusal to offer refunds has angered users, many of whom feel they have been unfairly treated. A Spotify Community member named AaronMickDee voiced his frustration:

“I’d rather not just dispose of the device. I think there is a community that would love the idea of having a device we can customize and use for other uses other than a song playback device. Would Spotify be willing to maybe unlock the system and allow users to write/flash 3rd party firmware to the device?”

Further exacerbating customer dissatisfaction, Spotify informed Ars Technica that the primary purpose of the Car Thing was to “learn more about how people listen in the car.” This has led to the perception that Spotify used its customers for market research and then rendered their devices useless once the research was complete.

The move highlights ongoing concerns about consumer rights and ownership in the digital age, where companies can unilaterally disable or alter the functionality of purchased hardware and software.

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