Sonos is ending its controversial 'recycle mode' program that rendered speakers useless following a critical backlash (SONO)


Sonos beam

  • Sonos is getting rid of its controversial “Recycle Mode” amid a backlash, as first reported by The Verge on Thursday and confirmed to Business Insider.
  • The speaker company had pushed a trade-up program that gave customers a discount for upgrading — but only if they put their old speaker into Recycle Mode, making it permanently unusable.
  • Critics said that making working speakers unusable was environmentally unfriendly, while Sonos said it was meant to keep customers from buying subpar used devices.
  • The program will continue, but the Recycle Mode requirement has been dropped, allowing customers to choose what to do with their old speaker, a spokesperson told Business Insider.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Sonos has stopped making customers “brick” their old speakers in order to become eligible for discounts on new products, as first reported by The Verge on Thursday and confirmed to Business Insider.

The controversial trade-up program encouraged Sonos customers to claim a 30% discount when upgrading to new products, but only by first placing their old speaker into “Recycle Mode,” thus making it permanently unusable.

Critics slammed the program, which Sonos initially touted as a way to “responsibly recycle older products,” as environmentally unfriendly for turning still functional speakers into e-waste.

A Sonos spokesperson told Business Insider that the trade-up program will continue, but without the requirement that customers put old devices into Recycle Mode.

“[Customers] can now choose what to do with their old device: continue to use it, give it to a friend, donate it to charity, responsibly recycle it at their local e-waste facility or send it back to Sonos via a prepaid shipping label,” the spokesperson said.

Sonos defended the program’s original intent, saying it was meant to help customers transition away from older devices that may not support “modern Sonos experiences,” it told Business Insider.

However, Sonos ultimately decided to abandon the Recycle Mode condition, saying “we also respect the customer’s right to decide for themselves when a product has reached the end of its useful life.”

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