Spotify Is Not Offering Refunds After It Bricks 'The Car Thing' [UPDATE]

Photo: Spotify
Photo: Spotify

Usually, when you buy a product, you expect to be able to continue using it even after the company stops selling it. Your car doesn’t immediately brick itself the moment production ends, after all. And yet, for the people who bought Spotify’s Car Thing, that’s exactly what’s happening. The streaming giant recently announced that after December 2024, it’s remotely bricking every single Car Thing ever sold. If you own one, you’ll just have to throw it out.

[UPDATE: Spotify recently told Engadget that it will be giving refunds to customers who can provide proof of purchase, and an email invoice will do. You’ll have to contact customer service to get your money back, but it’s better than being out $90. Also, the policy went into effect Friday, May 29, so if you complained before that date and were turned down for a refund, try contacting them again.]

If you’re not already familiar with the Car Thing, it’s a device that was designed to solve a very specific problem. For $90 (or $0 if you were a Spotify Premium subscriber who got in early during the invite-only phase), you got a small screen that attached to a climate vent and connected to your car via either Bluetooth or an aux jack where it would play music via Spotify. It wasn’t exactly revolutionary, as you could just get a phone mount and a Bluetooth aux adapter if your phone didn’t have an aux jack, and your car didn’t have Bluetooth, but we can at least see the theoretical appeal.


Less than six months after Spotify began selling the Car Thing to the general public, though, it pulled the plug. Citing “product demand and supply chain issues,” Spotify stopped producing the device. People who already owned Car Things could still use them, and unsold units were discounted to $50. Spotify just wasn’t making any new ones. Now, though, it’s decided it’s time to kill the Car Thing once and for all.

In its announcement, Spotify said:

Car Thing is our first hardware product that allows users to control Spotify through car speakers when connected to a phone by using both voice recognition and preset buttons.

We have made the decision to discontinue Car Thing. This means that Car Thing will no longer be operational. This decision wasn’t made lightly, and we want to assure you that our commitment to providing a superior listening experience remains unchanged.

We acknowledge and deeply appreciate the support and enthusiasm you have shown for Car Thing. It has been an incredible journey, and we are grateful for all the miles we’ve shared.

Also, if you thought we were exaggerating when we said you’re supposed to throw it out, Spotify also added, “We recommend resetting your Car Thing to factory settings and safely disposing of your device following local electronic waste guidelines. Contact your state or local waste disposal department to determine how to dispose of or recycle Car Thing in accordance with applicable laws and regulations.” So while you’re not supposed to simply toss it in your kitchen trash can, Spotify is literally telling customers to throw it out. What a time to be alive.

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