When even Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak is worried about Apple business practices, you should take note. He said: “Companies inhibit [the right to repair] because it gives the companies power, control, over everything. It’s time to start doing the right things.” This comes as a lobbyist group is gaining ground in their right-to-repair legislative plea. Right now current laws only cover vehicles and some appliances, but consumer electronics should be included, they argue. Not sure what the fuss is about? Here is why you should care about ‘right to repair’ vs Apple:

What is right to repair

Right to repair is legislation on vehicles and appliances that mean you – as the purchaser- can have these items repaired by anyone. They can’t force you to go back to their dealership or their store for costly repairs by the manufacturer. And it has to be easy to do with regular tools. When the laws were introduced it meant, according to Which, that “manufacturers will now have to make spare parts available for washing machines, washer-dryers, dishwashers, refrigerators and TVs for the first time. Repairs also need to be possible using everyday tools.” But there are some loopholes. They have 2 years to make spare parts available and only have to carry those parts for 10 years (sadly, most fridges last 20-25 years). And it doesn’t apply to consumer electronics like smartphones and laptops. That’s where Apple comes in. They don’t want to extend right-to-repair to their devices and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has joined the opposition. He argues that Apple devices wouldn’t have been possible in the first place if he didn’t spend his childhood repairing devices.

Why is it good for consumers?

Right to repair is great for consumers because it gives you choices. If you feel capable, you could carry out repairs yourself with parts from the manufacturer. If not, the parts would be readily available to any 3rd party repair shop that is willing to do the service. The cost of repairs would be more competitive because you would have that DIY option. And manufacturers would no longer have a monopoly on repair jobs. Plus, those companies would need to build devices smarter so they can be fixed with standard tools – no more complex designs. Lastly, it’s better for the environment too. With the requirement to keep parts in stock for at least 10 years, we could repair more products instead of throwing them away. But many think the legislation should be expanded to cover consumer electronics, cookers, hobs, tumble dryers and microwaves too. They’re currently excluded by the existing laws. Blocking the right to repair is an anti-competitive move. So, perhaps we should scrutinise more closely any company participating in this market-damaging and planet-harming behaviour.

 

What do you think about right-to-repair? Do you want to get involved? The link is here for the EU and here for the UK to join the movement. 

 

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