We want to discuss a very important topic that is affecting our and other industries. ‘Right to repair’ is a fight that consumers and 3rd party businesses are waging against manufacturers. This fight covers products ranging from vehicles to the cellphone or computer you are reading this on. Today, we want to explain why the ‘right to repair’ movement is important to you.

Right To Repair

When you purchase a product you are the owner, and you have the right to fix it if something breaks. The ‘right to repair’ movement is pushing for more access to replacement parts/ instructions on the products we own. Companies will use a multitude of measures to keep consumers from easily fixing their products.

Tactics Employed

John Deere, Apple, and many other companies use tactics like restrictive warranties or electronic locks. These measures will prevent customers from fixing their products themselves. As a result, the manufacturer forces the consumer to go to an authorized repair center (the manufacturer) or get a replacement.

Technology is growing more complex and intricate, and the manufactures are exploiting this at the expense of the consumer. A way to make it difficult for consumers to repair their products is not publishing or providing instruction manuals. Furthermore, they also have intertwined mechanical and electronic technology making it harder to replace certain components. Some replacement parts are electronically verified before it is allowed to work.

A large fear is that companies will use planned obsolescence more aggressively if they are forced to open up repairs. Planned obsolescence is the practice that companies use to ‘encourage’ replacement devices after a few years. This is accomplished by making products less durable or that they slow down as they age.

Legislation In The Works

Several states have proposed legislation to force companies to provide the necessary materials for repairs. Legislators in 20 states have ‘right to repair’ legislation in the works this year. However, manufacturers are lobbying forcefully against these proposed bills. Manufacturer’s rationale is that they are ensuring quality repairs and protecting consumers.

The FTC ruled in 2018 that the warranty stickers found on many electronics are illegal. The FTC sent letters to six companies to review their warranty notices. The notices must not ‘state or imply warranty coverage is based on specific parts or services’.

Some companies have given some ground on the issue. Repairs completed by 3rd party repair shops will no longer void Apple’s warranty. Additionally, John Deere has stated it would sell diagnostic software and manuals by 2021. Even so, manufacturers will continue to drive new products sales over repairs. Early this year, Tim Cook told investors that iPhone sales were down because more users were repairing their devices.

Our Thoughts

Above all, legislation ensuring consumers can fix the products they own is not intrusive to the manufactures. It gives the consumer, who spent their hard-earned money, the ability to make their products work better and last longer. It will be easier and less expensive for 3rd party repair shops to keep your devices running long after you purchase them. If you found this article interesting or helpful, check out our other posts!