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Sonos to stop updating old speakers – your rights

Sonos to stop updating old speakers – your rights

Electronics company Sonos is to stop sending software updates to older speakers and other devices from May, meaning they will lose "some functionality" over time. It's sparked anger among many Sonos owners – if you're affected, here's what's happening and what you can do about it. 

The firm says some of its oldest "legacy" speakers have "been stretched to their technical limits" and it's warned that after it stops sending updates to them in May, their functionality will eventually decrease. It's also warned that newer devices may stop receiving updates if they remain connected to older ones that are affected.

If you own one of the affected speakers, Sonos says you can trade it in for a new one and get a 30% discount. But legally your rights in this situation appear to be limited, as the US firm's licence agreement states that it's not under obligation to provide ongoing support for its products. 

Since its initial announcement earlier this week, Sonos CEO Patrick Spence has apologised for the company's approach, saying "we did not get this right". He said that Sonos will continue to provide bug fixes and security improvements to older devices "for as long as possible" – though it remains the case that new software updates for these devices will end from May.

For full help on your consumer rights and how to complain if you're not happy with a service or goods, see our Consumer Rights guide.

'Outraged is an understatement' – how Sonos owners have reacted 

There's been an angry reaction from many owners of Sonos devices since the news was announced earlier this week – here are just a few of the tweets we've seen:

Which Sonos products are affected?

Sonos says the following speakers and other devices will no longer receive updates or new features from May:

  • Original Zone Players, Connect and Connect:Amp (launched in 2006; includes versions sold until 2015)
  • First-generation Play:5 (launched 2009)
  • CR200 (launched 2009)
  • Bridge (launched 2007)

Sonos also warns that newer devices may be affected if they are connected to legacy devices. It says: "All products operate on the same software. If modern products remain connected to legacy products after May, they also will not receive software updates and new features."

If you aren't sure if you have a legacy device, you can check via your Sonos account page.

My Sonos device is affected – what can I do?

If one of your devices is affected, Sonos says you have two options after it stops sending software updates in May:

  • Continue using your device. Sonos speakers and other devices won't stop working immediately, though Sonos says that "some functionality will be impacted over time". The company says the impact will become apparent in due course, but as an example of how a device could be affected, a music service could issue a new update that isn't compatible with software that isn't updated, so your Sonos product may not be able to play from that service.

    It also says that where possible, it will try to provide advance notification in the event that access to a feature or service is disrupted by a change.

  • Trade in your older device and save 30% on a new Sonos product. You can do this via the Sonos website. If you choose to participate in the trade-in programme, your legacy products will be put in 'Recycle Mode', a state that deletes personal info and prepares these products for recycling.

    You take your legacy products to a nearby 'certified e-recycling facility', but if there isn't one in your area, Sonos will pay for you to send your products back to it for recycling.

What are my rights in this situation?

While many are unhappy with Sonos's decision, legally it appears that your options to challenge it are limited – though it may be worth complaining anyway if you're frustrated, and seeing what the firm will offer you.

The licence agreement for the Sonos app, used to control its speakers, states that the firm has "no obligation to provide any updates or upgrades" – and consumer rights lawyers we've spoken to therefore believe it would be hard for Sonos owners to argue the company has done something it hadn't warned it might do.

However, if you are unhappy or believe you've been left unreasonably out of pocket because Sonos will no longer be providing new software updates, it may be worth complaining to Sonos and seeing what it can offer you. 

If you do, make sure you include any evidence you can, such as details of your devices, and clearly explain the financial impact. It may also be worth asking the firm to prove that its decision is a reasonable one and one that was made clear to you at the point you bought the product. You can let us know if you have any luck doing this at news@moneysavingexpert.com.

What does Sonos say?

In a letter published on its site today, Sonos CEO Patrick Spence admitted the firm "did not get this right from the start", although he didn't fully backtrack on its previous announcement.

We've contacted Sonos with a series of questions but did not receive a reply – we'll update this story if we hear back.