What Is The Right To Repair Movement And Why Do We Need It

What is the Right To Repair? Why are Companies against it?

What is the Right to Repair? It solve the issues of planned obsolescence & overpriced repairs used companies to earn more money. But what is it exactly, and Why are Companies against the Right to Repair?

But What is The Right to Repair? It allows consumers to repair their own products, while all of us don’t have the tools to repair our washing machine or smartphone, the right to repair will ensure that the companies are forced to make products easy to repair and the replacement parts are made available to 3rd party repair stores to give the consumer the option to choose.

With time it has been observed, that companies are making their products intentionally difficult to repair.

This ensures that the customer would prefer to buy a new product rather than repair the old one because the cost of the newer product isn’t relatively too much compared to the cost of repairing the old one.

So, What is the Right To Repair?

We Need the Right to Repair, because, in an industry Monopoly is the enemy of consumer-friendly pricing.

By making service manuals proprietary they limit the ability of products to be repaired by 3rd party sources. They have to rely on the 1st party repair. These 1st party repairs have a monopoly and they can charge way higher prices and consumers can’t refuse to pay.

Right to Repair forces the brands to develop products such that they can be easily repaired, and at the same time the sellers need to build proper instruction manuals and information about diagnostic procedures etc, so that they can possibly repair the products themselves, or from a 3rd party sources.

This will safeguard consumers from monopoly.

Another reason why you would prefer to have the right to repair is to have safety from planned obsolescence.

Companies try to build products, that are like time bombs, they die after a particular time period of use. 

Planned Obsolescence

Planned Obsolescence

No, don’t worry the laptop sitting on your table won’t explode, but it might be designed to be not-so-useful after few years.

One of the most common practices they do is to glue the battery into the machine itself, making it (relatively) difficult to replace.

The result maybe 6 years after purchase, the battery is incapable of powering the machine, and the repair center is 100 miles away, it’s more logical for you to buy a new product than travel 100 miles to and fro.

Many other tactics on the software level are implemented on smartphones, where the phones receive 2 or max 3 years of software updates, even when the phone would be capable of running the software updates even after those 3 years.

Sony is also rumored to adopt planned obsolescence. After which the PlayStation 6 could release as soon as 2023

This is done so that the consumer doesn’t get the latest features and eventually is persuaded to buy a new phone for the latest features, even when his old one is capable of running the latest software.

So we know the benefits of the Right to Repair.

But now let’s see how companies were exploiting customers, due to a lack of Right To Repair.

To understand what is right to repair, it is important to first know the malpractices that companies use to make unrepairable machines.

Right To Repair

Right To Repair

How do Companies Make their Product Repairs a Nightmare?

Making products difficult to repair is not a very difficult task for many companies. There are many tactics that companies use to prevent repairs and upsell newer products.

One of the major reasons or excuses for having high repair prices is “Labor costs”, usually even high-quality smartphone screens can be found for less than $100, but most companies charge way higher than that

This high-profit margin and unacceptable pricing for basic repairs can all be solved by the Right to Repair.

Repair Costs close to the Product Cost

Iphone Screen Replacement Costs

Iphone Screen Replacement Costs

Companies Like Apple in some cases may charge close to $500 for a screen replacement. At that point, it is wise to rather buy a new iPhone by spending $100 more.

Such tactics are used by many companies, to upsell newer products rather than repair old ones. I shall try to discuss every aspect and understand the Right to Repair movement by various similar examples.

Apple is really focused on Quality and their repairs are really good. The repairs are done by well-paid and properly trained professionals, this increases the costs for consumers. 

The goal of Right to Repair is to ensure that companies don’t forget their customers after the initial sale. Customers should never feel orphaned.

But, the problem comes when the costs increase out of proportion, regardless of how well the engineers are paid, their costs cant be this high. This all makes consumers understand The need for the Right to Repair.

But this is still understandable, and in case your iPhone is in warranty it is still better to go to Apple’s recommended stores to get it repaired.

The industry has seen many companies having to change their decisions to match the customer’s needs.

One such instance was when Steve Jobs was unwilling to make the iPhones bigger, but Apple later had to bend down to customers’ demands.

Read more about it here Was Steve Jobs Wrong about iPhone Size “No One is Going to Buy Big Phone”

There can be similar instances where the power of the masses can make these big companies bend down and work hard to make products more repairable.

The Right to Repair attempts to fix these problems. It is one of the reasons why we need the right to repair. It ensures that the companies are forced to build the products in a manner, that they can be easily repaired thus allowing a random person to repair it themselves or get it repaired from a variety of 3rd party local dealerships, whichever provides the best pricing.

The Right To Repair can save customers a lot of money, by allowing better repairs and thus increasing the life span of products. Another benefit of Right to Repair would be the possibility of having machines run longer without much maintenance, thus reducing the e-waste and helping the environment.

Design Flaws making Products unsafe to repair

Then there are instances where the products are quite literally designed to be tougher to repair. 

This makes people avoid any repairs and prefer to spend more money going to these big companies for repairs. 

This is another reason why we need the Right to Repair law. If this law existed, companies would have been forced to design products with ease of repairability in mind. 

Apple has done that with the iMac for a long time. The 2019 iMac had design flaws which meant, that if you took the display off of the iMac Body, the Capacitors were directly exposed which could be really bad if you got in touch with them.

The design also made the repairing process far more difficult and the machine itself far more fragile. They could have literally put a caging or some kind of protection with the electronics to keep the customer safe.

There were reports of Apple even refusing to repair the then brand new iMac, and charging people repair costs that were way higher than the actual costs of the machine.

One such instance was shown by Linus Tech Tips, where Apple refused to repair a brand new iMac because, they didn’t have any replacement parts available, later when they somehow managed to get a quote for the repair of iMac the cost was more than $5k which is higher than the price of that particular iMac itself.

Lack of Customer Support and Bad Quality to make repairs impossible

There is no conclusive evidence of Apple doing it intentionally/purposefully. The Right to Repair will force companies like Apple to design their machines such that they are easy to repair, and can actually be repaired nicely.

Another great example is how Apple provided bad-quality accessories that could damage the machine itself, leading to customers coming for repairs.

This was also exposed by a YouTube channel called snazzy labs, in 2018, Apple started selling their iMacs with VESA adapters so that the iMac could be used with other stands rather than Apple’s own stand.

However, for an $80 Mount, used on a $5000 machine, the customer support was scanty, to the point where Apple refused to provide any customer support whatsoever, to the point where they even refused to consider the mount as an Apple product, even when it had Apple branding and Apple Customer support phone number on it.

The screw provided them was so weak that even Apple’s own employees couldn’t properly install or uninstall them. And The screws were weak enough to damage the machine itself.

For a company like Apple that takes pride in its design and engineering, it is really bad to see how they make so many flaws, that make things easy to break and difficult to repair, and the cost to repair so high that you are better off with a new product.

So Now you Know How Consumers are being cheated by the Right to Repair.

Now the big, question arrises, what are the obstacles? It seems to be good concept, and should be implemented globally. Right? Right?

Well, the answer goes beyond that. I’ll explain. The Right to Repair, and the entire concept of repairability has major hurdles. Let’s understand

Why are Companies against Right to Repair?

The Right to Repair movement has not gained momentum even after having people fight for it for many years. Why So?

Well, there are multiple reasons for it, one of the significant reason is Money

If consumers don’t buy new products, it directly impacts sales and revenues.

Currently, an average consumer changes his phone every 2 years, if making phones better, caused the phones to last in the consumer’s hands for 4 years, then they directly lose more than 50% of their sales.

While understanding What is the Right to Repair movement, you need to know that Right to Repair can be a massive financial hurdle, which causes companies to fight against the Right to Repair

But there are other reasons also, that cause these companies to prevent repairability.

In case you are wondering what is the right to repair movement’s hurdles, one of the main hurdles in Innovation

Companies are trying to shrink their products, modern machines have lots of tiny parts, and companies try their best to squeeze them into the smallest possible footprint.

Trying to make the products more repairable means, wasting lots of space in designing products to be easily opened, and further making space to work on the product itself. 

Airpods Right To Repair Can Cause Problems In Building Compact Products

Airpods Right To Repair Can Cause Problems In Building Compact Products

One such example of what are the hurdles for Right to Repair is AirPods. Yes, The Apple Earphones perfectly demonstrate it.

They are really excellent pieces of engineering. Really small in size, easy to wear, and have a battery, wireless connectivity, the speaker itself, mics, hardware for noise cancellation, water resistance, etc baked into such a small size.

They can have lots of problems due to the Right to Repair movement

They would have to leave a lot of space in middle to open the AirPods. The battery would have to be distinctly placed in the casing so that it can be easily removed, whereas in the current design the electronics can be placed really close to one another.

As a result the Right to Repair, would significantly increase materials used in manufacture, increase product cost, and also make it significantly larger. This hampers the innovation too, and in some cases can cause major design issues.

While this is true, there’s a argument about how tech has saturated over the years, and the marginal improvements year over year can be easily dealt with, when designing products complaint with Right to Repair.

Checkout how the [History of Tech] Is The Tech Industry Saturated in 2021

While it is possible to rework it from the ground up to adjust for repairability, the fact is that the initial costs and overall size are definitely gonna trouble.

These 2 arguments are commonly presented, but there are some reasons, why the government, consumers, and companies are against the right to repair, some of these reasons are really logical and big obstacles. Let’s discuss Why are people against the right to repair.

What is Apple’s Self-Service Program?

Apple announced the Apple Self Service Program, to show the world that they are caring for customers. It allows customers to take genuine parts such as batteries, screens, and more from Apple and replace them on their own.

On paper, it sounds like Apple finally is supporting Right to Repair and isn’t that anti-consumer. However, if you look closely, repairing an iPhone is unnecessarily difficult. iPhones are way harder to repair than other flagships, which means that most of the customers would still have to get them repaired from Apple.

Also, Apple is only providing a few common parts, so if your device had a broken screen along with some internal components, you would have to go to Apple to get that other part repaired.

These hurdles seem to be added to just create an illusion of Apple supporting Right to Repair, while in reality, most people won’t be able to repair their phones, and those who have damage on components that aren’t publically available will still have to visit Apple.

What are the reasons to avoid Right to Repair?

Right to Repair brings a lot of positive features. But there are some major drawbacks and concerns. These issues are a consequence of implementing the Right to Repair.

One of the major reasons to avoid Right to Repair is to protect intellectual properties and protect patents.

In highly competitive markets of electronics, the purchase decisions are made on marginal superiorities. A product that provides slightly better display/price/performance/cost will be preferred over others, based on the customer’s interests.

Companies work years to optimize technology and gain a significant lead over the competition to lure the customer.

Right to Repair means, any advancement in the product can be easily disassembled, and understood, allowing other companies to implement the same really quickly.

The technology that took years to develop, can be copied by another company relatively easily.

In long term, it can result in companies not trying hard enough to build any technology.  The ability to copy technology will cause the costs of developing technology not to be recovered by the small jump in sales figures.

Secondly, the patented parts in a machine would be relatively easily repurposed for personal use or other products.

These are not good for the finance and security of the company.

And now, the most important argument against the Right to Repair

Right to Repair: With Ownership comes Responsibility

As a part of Right to Repair, one of the biggest explanations given in favor of Right to Repair is that “You Buy it, You own it”

This means if a customer purchases a product, the customer owns it, and therefore he/she is free to do whatever he wants with it, without any condition.

As a part of it, you also are responsible for any damages to your product.

We have quite commonly seen reports of how a smartphone battery explodes, or how a phone catches fire in flight.

In some cases like the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, it was caused by a faulty phone. Here even without the Right to Repair law, the consumer is protected, as it was primarily malfunctioning due to the company’s mistake.

But in the majority of the other cases, the reason for such malfunctions is caused by the customer’s own mistake.

When we ask “What is the Right to Repair Law”, you must know that with this law, companies are not responsible for any damages caused to your product due to your interferences.

For example, using incompatible chargers for long periods of time can cause the battery to explode.

And rough usage of the phone can cause the battery to be punctured and further explode mid-air due to low pressure.

As a part of the Warranty service, companies only do warranty services when you bring your product untouched. In case you manually attempt to repair anything, then you void your warranties.

Now you know what is the right to repair law, but you should know that you are the only one responsible for improper repairs,

In other cases, many times when we as professionals can perform the repair of 1 component, like replacing the battery in your machine, but during that, we may damage some other component and the result can be even more costs later on.

Another problem can be the quality of products. We are all totally aware of how Chinese companies are quick to replicate expensive products, that look the same as original products but are far worse in quality and far cheaper.

As a result of these low-quality fake replacement parts, the cost of 3rd party repairs would be significantly lower than the 1st party repair.

But that would come at the cost of quality. The result would be that machines would eventually cause even bigger troubles, lead to bad brand image, and unsatisfied customers.

As a result, avoiding Right to Repair can keep prices high, but it can ensure better quality control than a 3rd party repair.

Conclusion

Oh, So you skipped the entire article, just to read the conclusion?

Scroll up and read.

I’ll wait.

So you STILL didn’t bother to read it all.

No problem. I’ll still explain.

Right to Repair seems like a good idea on paper, however, the backing from the government and big companies is scanty.

The Right to Repair has many flaws, protection of patents, and keeping the company safe when there are problems caused by the consumer.

One such example is Tesla vehicles. Whenever a Tesla Vehicle crashes, the news outlets are quick to blame Tesla’s AI-based Autopilot system. In the majority of the cases, it is found that the vehicle was being driven by humans with Autopilot DISABLED, yet the media blamed Tesla.

Similar things can happen with other products when the companies are blamed and their reputation gets in danger, even when the product malfunctioned because of improper repair/damage done by the consumer.

The financial aspect is another major factor, making products more repairable would increase initial product costs, thus negatively impacting sales, and on the other hand, the high repairability and availability of 3rd party repairs would reduce revenue generated from repairs, and increased the life span of products would also reduce sales as people would upgrade less often.

I can surely say that companies would eventually adjust to financial problems, but the protection of intellectual properties and safeguarding companies against being blamed for the mistake of consumers are 2 tough problems.

I think Right To Repair should be implemented, but there needs to be a lot of control. Customer should be allowed to replace things like Battery or Displays or other common things, but companies should be allowed to protect dangerous parts, patent-protected parts, and parts which require qualified professions to replace.

Many other things need to be considered, as the n case of smaller electronics, where the usability would be compromised to implement Right to Repair should also be excluded from this law.

If such things can happen, one day we would possibly see Right to Repair become a reality.

#RightToRepair #Repair #Apple #Consumer

Akarshit MahajanLast Seen: Oct 19, 2022 @ 2:01pm 14OctUTC

Akarshit Mahajan

AkarshitMahajan6300



Published:
Last Updated:
Views: 110