Tidal, Jay Z's streaming music service, has been hitting some consumers with false charges over the last 24 hours. I know because I'm one of them — and I cancelled Tidal several months ago. This morning I noticed a $19.99 charge on my credit card, which is how much the company's lossless / hi-fi subscription costs per month. A few hours later, Tidal sent along an apologetic email and let me know that the money would be refunded within a few business days.
Tidal also informed me that I'd be gifted three free months of Tidal Premium as a result for the mixup. Tidal Premium, if you're unfamiliar, is essentially the company's direct answer to Spotify Premium. Both are $9.99 each month.
Wasn't my account essentially closed? Without any action or permission on my part, Tidal has reenabled my inactive username. I'm not particularly thrilled about that idea. Here's the email:
We are sorry to inform you that due to an error, you have been billed 19.99$ for a TIDAL subscription.
We sincerely apologize for this inconvenience, and have already refunded the amount to your account. However, it can take from 2-5 business days to show up on your credit card statement.
In addition to the full refund, we have also given you free access to TIDAL Premium for the next three months as a compensation. Your TIDAL account is now active, and you can log in with your existing username firstname.lastname@example.org and password.
Again, we apologize for this, and appreciate your patience and understanding.
Why not just refund me for the error and call it even? I cancelled Tidal for a reason, after all. And before the company corrected another mistake, it seemed Tidal would be charging customers for a subscription after those three months were up. Here's what the settings section looked like when I logged into the service:
I've reached out to Tidal's PR agency for more details on exactly how many customers have been affected by this screwup. A quick glance at Twitter suggests quite a few people have seen the bogus charge. Mistakes happen, but this "gift" really rubs me the wrong way. It almost seems like an intentional ploy to reel back in everyone who tried Tidal and ultimately bailed for Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play Music, or another streaming option. I'd have preferred a single free month of the lossless option, anyway. Isn't that Tidal's true selling point?
Update January 18th 1:35PM ET: Moments after this article was published, Tidal updated the language on the subscription page indicating that no one will be charged after the three-month membership comes to a close. I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that was the plan all along and what I — and others — saw was an unintended error.