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What a Class Action Does to a Company: Spotify Starts Offering Refunds for Car Thing

Spotify Car Thing 10 photos
Photo: Spotify
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Spotify has recently announced the demise of Car Thing, a surprisingly popular device that allows users to control music playback while driving.
While similar capabilities are already available on Android Auto and CarPlay, users whose cars do not offer such systems were sold. They immediately paid $90 for the oddly-named device, as they wanted to make listening to Spotify tunes more convenient when they drove.

The device launched in February 2022, but Spotify's foray into the hardware market ended abruptly. Despite Spotify praising the interest in Car Thing on multiple occasions, the company decided to discontinue the device last year, likely as its sales didn't go well.

Earlier this month, Spotify revealed that all Car Thing units will be bricked in December, so customers owning these devices can just throw them away.

The announcement didn't sit well with angry customers, who contacted the company asking for a refund. Nobody got their money back, but some customers said they received one or multiple months of Premium access to Spotify.

However, launching a device, selling it for $90 for just one year, and then retiring it without issuing refunds sounds like an easy way to make money overnight. This is why the company is now facing a class-action lawsuit, where customers complain that Spotify doesn't give their money back on a device it bricks after only a couple of years.

While Spotify did not comment on the lawsuit, it's very clear the company is on thin ice here. The power of a class-action lawsuit is amazing, so this week, Spotify reportedly started issuing refunds to customers who purchased Car Thing.

Buyers are recommended to contact the company and discuss their options. Spotify might not issue refunds for every customer but try to offer other options, including multiple months of Premium.

Spotify hasn't officially launched a refund program, but according to a report, the company is willing to talk to users, who can contact its staff "with questions."

Meanwhile, not everybody wants to see Car Thing go, and some users hope that Spotify will eventually open-source the device to let the community maintain the project. The company hasn't shown any interest in this idea, albeit a class-action lawsuit changes everything, and it's amazing how it can force a tech company to change its mind overnight. Efforts to install Android on Car Thing and keep the device up and running are already underway, but nobody has come up with a fully working project yet.

Spotify doesn't share many specifics these days, as it's trying to avoid saying the wrong words, so your best option if you're a Car Thing customer is to contact the company to discuss your options. If you want a refund, there's a good chance you'll get it.
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About the author: Bogdan Popa
Bogdan Popa profile photo

Bogdan keeps an eye on how technology is taking over the car world. His long-term goals are buying an 18-wheeler because he needs more space for his kid’s toys, and convincing Google and Apple that Android Auto and CarPlay deserve at least as much attention as their phones.
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