What is the Right To Repair?
The right to repair, simply put, states that if you own a device, you should have the option to either a) repair it yourself or b) take it to the technician of your choice for repairs. The right to repair crosses over multiple industries–and it has a huge impact on consumers’ choices.
Take the auto industry, for example. In the last 10 years, many of the major manufacturers have made it impossible for smaller, third-party shops to work on their vehicles. They use highly specific tools to open up their cars. Those tools could cost as much as $300 per tool, and it might only work on a specific vehicle. That cost adds up immensely–and quickly, it means that drivers are forced to use dealership networks to take care of even simple vehicle repairs, because smaller, independent shops can’t afford those tools.
The same is true of the tech industry. Many people have grown increasingly frustrated that they can’t work on their own devices, including iPhones, or choose an independent retailer to take care of repairs when they need them. Instead, they’re stuck with limited options–usually the expensive choice of taking their devices to a specific retailer and waiting for the manufacturer to have time to complete those repairs.
Recently, President Biden signed an order asking the Federal Trade Commission to crack down on the restrictions that these industries are placing on their products: the ones that make it harder for third parties to take care of things for their clients.
The Benefits of Right to Repair Solutions
Allowing consumers to make choices about where they want to take their devices for repairs can make a huge difference for consumers as a whole. Right now, much of the consumer market is now consolidated into a relatively small number of companies, who are strictly controlling where their users can go. The new order, however, establishes that consumers have the right to choose who they want to use.
In many cases, the tech industry is virtually holding consumers hostage. Consider, for example, printer cartridges: while it’s not a repair issue, you may buy a relatively inexpensive printer, only to discover that the cost of ink is twice the cost of the printer or more. When you invalidate the warranty just by using a third-party ink cartridge, you may feel as though you have little choice–and you may find yourself paying a fortune for ink.
With repairs, however, the right to repair helps establish that you shouldn’t have to worry about overpriced, overly marked up costs for repairs. Independent shops should be able to work on tractors, on printers, on phones, and on cars, all without manufacturers blocking them off in an effectively predatory manner.
Often, the wait to have a product repaired by the manufacturer directly is considerably longer than what you would have to wait with a third-party shop. Unfortunately, when only the manufacturer has the tools needed to work on the product, you may worry that you have little to no good choices. With the right to repair established, on the other hand, you can choose a provider who fits your specific needs.
How will the right to repair bill impact consumers over time? It will depend on how much the Federal Trade Commission actually cracks down on offenders in the wake of Biden’s order–and it may take time for those big manufacturers to start to really make those changes in their products. In general, however, the right to repair should establish more freedom of choice for consumers as a whole. Want to learn more about how to manage your technology? Contact us today.