Spotify is refunding Car Thing owners — how to get your money back before Spotify bricks it

Spotify car thing with ryen russilo podcast on screen
(Image credit: Spotify)

If you own Spotify's soon-to-be-bricked Car Thing, there's good news: You can still get a refund. The company has come under fire over its decision to deactivate its $90 dashboard streaming accessory, which will no longer work starting on December 4, 2024, Spotify announced in May. As of last Friday, users looking to get their money back can contact Spotify's customer service and submit proof of purchase, Spotify confirmed with Engadget this week. 

Spotify unceremoniously pulled the plug on the Car Thing, the company's first and only hardware product to date, just five months after its release in 2022. At the time, the company promised to continue supporting units that had already been sold, but that abruptly changed with May's announcement. Car Thing was billed as an alternative for Spotify listeners whose vehicles lacked built-in displays with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto support. The $90 device functions as an external remote control that lets users access Spotify with voice recognition and preset buttons on its four-inch color touchscreen. 

In a recent support post, the company described its decision to brick every Car Thing device in six months as “part of our ongoing efforts to streamline our product offerings” that frees up Spotify to “focus on developing new features and enhancements that will ultimately provide a better experience to all Spotify users.” In plain English, it appears to be a cost-cutting measure after a rough year for the music streaming service that saw widespread layoffs, the death of fan-favorite music discovery tools, and a controversial price increase, just to name a few. 

The news that Car Thing owners are eligible for refunds comes after a group of customers filed a class action lawsuit with the Southern District of New York against Spotify over their short-lived in-vehicle accessory, as first reported by Billboard. The suit accuses Spotify of misleading Car Thing customers by selling a $90 product that would soon be little more than a paperweight without offering refunds. Granted, it's worth noting that Spotify said refunds started on May 24, a few days before the lawsuit was filed. If true, it's possible the company began quietly offering refunds to get ahead of such legal action. 

Still, a refund is better than nothing. Though you'll have to jump through a few hoops, I'm afraid. 

How to get a refund for your Spotify Car Thing

To get your money back, you'll need to reach out to Spotify's customer service with valid proof of purchase (like an emailed invoice) and you should be offered a refund. 

As for how simple the process will be, your mileage may vary. A few Reddit posts claim customers are seeing long hold times and being told Spotify will break up the refund across multiple payments. While others say they got in and out within 10 minutes. If you previously tried contacting Spotify support and were denied a refund, we recommend contacting them again.

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Alyse Stanley
News Editor

Alyse Stanley is a news editor at Tom’s Guide overseeing weekend coverage and writing about the latest in tech, gaming and entertainment. Prior to joining Tom’s Guide, Alyse worked as an editor for the Washington Post’s sunsetted video game section, Launcher. She previously led Gizmodo’s weekend news desk, where she covered breaking tech news — everything from the latest spec rumors and gadget launches to social media policy and cybersecurity threats.  She has also written game reviews and features as a freelance reporter for outlets like Polygon, Unwinnable, and Rock, Paper, Shotgun. She’s a big fan of horror movies, cartoons, and miniature painting.