Study shows an overwhelming majority of the public favour the right to repair.
London, UK. April 8, 2022. A new study by Droid Mobile Consultancy found an overwhelming majority (92%) of the public favour customers having the right to repair electronic devices and other goods.
Companies have been criticized for processes that make devices difficult for independent repair companies to access, such as using non-removable memory or batteries or sealing devices with special glue. In some cases it has been alleged this has been done on purpose to make it harder for people to fix their products.
A new study by Droid Mobile Consultancy found
an overwhelming majority (92%) of the public favour customers
having the right to repair electronic devices and other goods.
Consumer advocates are fighting the trend of manufacturers preventing people from repairing their products, from white goods to devices like phones and laptops to cars. Activists say many smartphones and laptops are designed to make simple repairs difficult or impossible for anyone other than the manufacturer.
The European Parliament has voted for Europe's "right to repair" rules, which will make it easier for consumers to repair their devices and crack down on manufacturers' practice of shortening the lifespan of products.
The right to repair requires manufacturers to make it easier for consumers to repair their devices and to be more transparent about the longevity of their products.
There is government legislation proposed in the USA that would allow consumers to repair and modify their consumer electronic devices if manufacturers of such devices require consumers to use only the services provided.
The arguments from industry made by companies including Apple, Google, Microsoft and Tesla are that right-to-repair laws would expose industry secrets, expose confidential information to third parties, and compromise safety and security, along with potentially making products less desirable due to the design compromises required to make components easily accessible and interchangeable.
As products have become more complex, many manufacturers dictate that the only way to repair equipment or obtain replacement parts is through the manufacturer or their authorised partners.
There have been claims that some manufacturers and authorised partners deceive consumers by claiming to repairing their devices when actually swapping the device for another refurbished device.
Consumer groups say forcing companies like Apple and Tesla to release the parts, manuals and diagnostics needed for repairs would make result in many more devices being repaired and re-used rather than consigned to landfill, and suspect the reasons companies are reluctant are :
Many customers will decide not to purchase a replacement (new) product when repairing their old one is much cheaper.
Manufacturers will no longer be able to charge inflated prices for parts and labour for 'official repairs'.
Another concern that legislation seeks to address is a practice among manufacturers to only sell certain parts as an assembly, leading to the need to replace more than just the faulty component and thus high repair costs. Appliance manufacturers could be required by law to provide consumers with spare parts for "easy and safe" repairs, such as a door hinge for white goods, and manufacturers could be compelled to provide independent repair shops for sub components of more complex parts.
Another essential part of any legislation must be providing better access to device repair and maintenance information such as repair manuals to everyone.
The practice of requiring consumers to go to the manufacturer for repairs is often criticized as anti-competitive partially because it prevents any third party from repairing these devices by producing or making available compatible parts, which can often offer a significant price advantage while also encouraging innovation, potentially allowing superior upgrade parts to be made available to extend the life of devices.
France introduced a "repairability rating" in January 2021 that manufacturers are required to provide for certain types of electronic equipment.
Apple's warranty terms (and those of many other manufacturers) mean that repairing a device yourself or having an unauthorized repair shop do so will void the product warranty, this has drawn some complaints and the attention of the FTC, however manufacturers claim third-party access to other people's devices could pose a cyber security risk.
Improving the maintainability of products can mean a compromise in product design, size or efficiency to make room for maintainability, which in a business environment that demands the best value for money at the time of sale can be a real challenge. The car industry perhaps can show the way here as it has long been the case that manufacturers known for high repair costs suffer in terms of resale value, which in turn makes their vehicles less desirable at retail. While it may appear that this does not carry over to electronic devices with Apple devices having among the highest relative resale values and among the highest repair costs, it is worth pointing out that Apple devices do have an excellent reputation for reliability which is often cited as a reason for purchase of their products both new and in the used market, so customers likely have a very low expected spend on repairs when purchasing Apple products.
The study did find that male respondents and those under 25 years old were a little less concerned about the right to repair, with 89% and 84% respectively in favour, although these figures of course still represent an overwhelming majority of those groups.
Contact - https://www.droid.mobi/contact.html
Respondents aged 18-24
Respondents aged 25-34
Respondents aged 35-44
Respondents aged 45-54
Respondents aged 55-64
Respondents aged 65+