Spotify shifts into reverse and starts offering refunds for Car Thing

Spotify Car Thing
(Image credit: Spotify)

Last week we reported that Spotify was bricking Car Thing, its discontinued in-car adapter that enabled you to add Spotify to older vehicles. Many users were upset that they'd no longer be able to use the device they'd spent $90 on, but Spotify appeared to be unwilling to offer any refunds – or even goodwill gestures. That's now changed, because the big green music-streaming machine is now offering compensation to Car Thing customers.

According to TechCrunch, the firm is now offering refunds to Car Thing owners provided they can show proof of purchase – although at the time of writing, Spotify doesn't appear to have put that in writing. However, some users are posting online to say that they've been offered several free months of Spotify Premium after contacting customer services.

Car thing! You make lawyers' hearts sing!

The apparent change of corporate heart might be connected to the news that Spotify is facing a class action lawsuit over its Car Thing termination. Said legal action was filed by angry users who claim that Spotify mis-sold the device by knowingly selling a product (for somewhere between $50 and $100, depending on sales or offers) it knew it was going to stop supporting. Spotify can't comment on that specific lawsuit for legal reasons, but it has issued a statement pointing out that there was nearly two years between discontinuing the device and stopping support: Car Thing was discontinued in July 2022 but deactivation isn't happening until December 2024. 

The whole situation has something of a PR disaster for Spotify, which is being criticised on several fronts after stopping paying smaller artists, upping its subscription prices (with more increases expected this year) and putting previously included features behind a paywall, such as displaying song lyrics. And with Car Thing the complaint isn't that Spotify is no longer selling it; it's that it's remotely deactivating people's devices even though those devices still work perfectly well and have been paid for in full. 

As we said in our previous report just seven sweet days ago, the device is really just a remote control for the Spotify app, so deactivating it seems rather unnecessary. But customers' calls for Spotify to open source the device's code so that volunteers can keep the software up to date still seem to be unsuccessful, and it still looks like Car Thing will become No Thing just before the holidays.

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Carrie Marshall

Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.