6 On Your Side: Consumer Confidence, Right to Repair Your Tech
(ABC 6 News) – Why is it so complicated and costly to get your computer or phone fixed when it breaks?
Too often, your only options are to either use the manufacturer’s preferred repair service, at a possibly inflated price – or buy a whole new product. But as Consumer Reports explains, change is on the way!
It’s a common gripe for consumers – manufacturers frequently limit tech repairs to “authorized” repair shops, making it much harder for people to search for convenient and affordable service, much less perform the repairs themselves.
“Oftentimes manufacturers don’t develop these products with reparability in mind. And then on top of that, forced consumers to again rely on them for repairs, which can be costly and at times inconvenient,” says Consumer Reports’ Angel Han.
But that might be starting to change.
Consumer Reports’ Advocates, like Han, helped pass the nation’s first “right to repair law” in New York, giving residents more choice in how they can get tech products like laptops and phones fixed.
“You can go to an independent repair shop that should be able to provide the same kind of quality of repair like Apple or Best Buy. Alternatively, you are now able to get the parts, the tools, instruction manuals straight from the manufacturer,” explains Han.
Similar bills are in the works in California, Colorado, Massachusetts, and Minnesota. But even if you don’t live in a state that has a right to repair law, you may see benefits.
Manufacturers are beginning to make replacement parts and service manuals available online, information Consumer Reports says has been secret for way too long and could save consumers big bucks.
“Families could save up to $330 a year if they were able to repair their products themselves or find other ways to repair their products outside of the manufacturer, as well as save over 600,000 tons of e-waste going into landfills,” says Han.
Most right to repair laws cover electronics such as laptops, smartphones, and tablets, but not home appliances like microwaves or medical equipment. But as right-to-repair laws become more common, eventually they could end up covering more items around the house.