A few months ago, Sonos drew the ire of some customers and recyclers trying to trade in their old devices. The main issue was that in order to partake in its Trade Up program—which rewards customers with a discount on new Sonos products if they recycle their old ones—you had to essentially brick the device. People with perfectly usable old devices were being forced to turn them in to be scrapped, rather than refurbished. Well, it would appear that Sonos is backpedaling on that policy.
According to Engadget, which first reported the news, Sonos has decided to no longer require users to put their devices into Recycle Mode. The mode initiates an irreversible 21-day countdown, after which that device is permanently blacklisted from Sonos’ servers. It may not seem like a big deal—after all, Trade Up requires users to bring the bricked devices to a certified recycler—but a bricked device must be torn apart for parts and can’t be refurbished and sold for further use. While the former is better than a Sonos sitting in a landfill as e-waste, the latter is the greener, less energy-intensive option.
Engadget reports that users will now only have to enter an eligible device’s serial number to get a 30 percent discount on new products via the Trade Up program. From there, you can keep the older device, sell it, give it to a friend, send it back to Sonos, or give it to a recycler.
Sonos’ website has been updated to reflect the change, but still contains some conflicting information. An archived version of the site from December 2019 lists the steps as “Select, Upgrade, Recycle” with an explanation of Recycle Mode. Looking at the site today, that’s been changed to “Select, Confirm, Save”—but Recycle Mode is still listed as an option on the website and in the FAQ. Nowhere does it say it’s required, though it could be confusing to users looking for more information.
Letting customers and recyclers have more choices in what happens to recycled gadgets is smart from both a business and an ecological perspective. Gizmodo asked Sonos for comment about why it decided to no longer require Recycle Mode, but did not immediately receive a response.
One note: Sonos rolling back Recycle Mode doesn’t mean it’s abandoning its recent decision to sundown its older products. Those products will still be categorized as “legacy” devices, but after backlash Sonos has decided that they will continue receiving security updates past the initial May 2020 cutoff point. These reversals show that Sonos is listening to its customers—and that sometimes telling companies how you feel about their choices pays off.