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Spotify faces class-action lawsuit over plans to disable “Car Thing”

(Image courtesy Spotify, Graphic by The Desk)

Three Spotify subscribers are suing the streaming audio service over its forthcoming plan to disable its companion hardware product called “Car Thing.”

In a complaint filed in New York federal court, the subscribers allege Spotify sold them Car Thing, despite not having any long-term plans to support the device.

Car Thing works exclusively with Spotify, allowing motorists to explore songs, artists, albums and playlists using the device’s scroll wheel or touch screen. It required a smartphone to use, and was marketed as a safer and more-personalized option for motorists who wanted to use Spotify while driving.

Spotify introduced Car Thing in April 2021 for $90, only to lower the price to $50 during a summer fire sale. The price change became permanent when Spotify announced it would discontinue Car Thing in early 2022. At the time, a Spotify executive said Car Thing would remain supported, so the company could collect and analyze how customers interacted with the hardware in order to better improve the overall service.

That strategy ended last month when Spotify informed Car Thing users that the device would stop working in December. At the time, the company declined to offer customers who purchased Car Thing a refund, angering many long-time subscribers of the streaming music service.

Three customers — Hamza Mazumder, Anthony Bracarello and Luke Martin — are now suing Spotify in federal court, alleging the company sold them a piece of hardware that they did not intend to support over the long term. The lawsuit is seeking class action status on behalf of all customers who were impacted by “the forced obsolesce of their purchase.”

Spotify has not commented on the lawsuit. Prior to its filing, Spotify told customers to “safely” dispose of Car Thing “following electronic waste guidelines,” and said the company was “not offering any trade-in options.”

After the lawsuit was filed, Spotify updated its customer support page to say subscribers could reach out to “discuss their options” about getting a refund if they had proof of purchase. The company has not said what those options are, but the website TechCrunch says it involves a refund.

Spotify continues to make investments in other areas, including developing and supporting in-car experiences through Apple CarPlay and Android Auto-compatible dashboards.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a nationally-recognized, award-winning journalist who has covered the business of media, technology, radio and television for more than 11 years. He is the publisher of The Desk and contributes to Know Techie, Digital Content Next and StreamTV Insider. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, the Walt Disney Company, McNaughton Newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting.
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