The Right to Repair is a movement focused on protecting consumers’ right to repair their own devices. Started in 2012, the movement now covers all electronic devices including house appliances and farming equipment. In the past, major tech giants like Apple and Microsoft lobbied against the movement but have recently hopped on board. Many of these companies announced self-repair kits and expanded their repair policies, however, some aren’t convinced the willingness to help the right to repair is authentic.
During the last few years, several tech companies developed their own versions of repair kits, with Apple being the most notable. The point of the kits is to allow users the option to repair their own devices rather than paying extra for the manufacturers to do it. Third-party repair shops have been a popular go-to, but tech companies have withheld the necessary information required to complete some repairs, leaving many consumers to depend on manufacturers for repairs. This often results in costly time-consuming repairs that results in costing almost the same as replacing the device, and sometimes leaves devices not working properly.
For this reason, consumers have begun to speak up about restrictive repair policies, and the right to repair movement aims to create more options for users, as well as protect ownership and repair rights.
One by one, tech companies have begun announcing their own repair kits, or programs and expanding their repair policies, but are they really supporting the right to repair, or are their repair-friendly efforts superficial? At first glance, self-repair kits may seem like a great idea, but some appear to be more trouble than they’re worth, not to mention dangerous.
For example, around this time last year Apple released their self repair kits, and after a lengthy process, MacRumors videographer Dan Barbera tested the kits himself and determined that while they do work, they are much more difficult to use even with a manual and end up being nearly the price of having the manufacturer repair the device. This left many to wonder if tech companies selling repair kits are really supporting consumers’ right to repair, or are they simply making the repair kits difficult to prove a point?
According to Digital Trends, Samsung’s repair program inflates the cost of a battery replacement by gluing the screen to the battery itself, and Apple’s repair program doesn’t offer replacement ports and connectors. Professionals in the repair industry, as well as right-to-repair advocates, believe that even with the new programs the repair world is still worse off than it used to be.
Long-time right-to-repair advocate and repair technician Louis Rossmann said, “I think they’re all moving to a model of serialization of parts, so even if you find an OEM part, it won’t work the same. Less parts being available than before. Less manuals being available than before. A model of lending or leasing rather than owning.”