The "Right to Repair" movement states that consumers should have the ability to make repairs to devices that they own, and to do so without having to rely on a process or documentation provided by the device's manufacturer. Put simply, it is the right to repair your own items without voiding any manufacturer warranty and having easy access to the resources (i.e. manuals, software) that will allow you to complete your repair successfully.
The right to repair movement began, in the United States, in 2013. Farmers and other members of the agriculture industry were continually forced to buy new equipment and vehicles as opposed to being able to do minor repairs themselves. In Europe, Right to Repair became a movement based in ecological concerns. The early leaders of this movement believed that the raw materials mined and processed for use in our devices, and the toxic runoff from vehicle and battery manufacturing; were top ecological issues.
While the Right to Repair movement is fighting for the right to repair all items that are limited by manufacturer policies; for our purposes here lets discuss the right to repair your own electronics. If you can look around the room and find even one device that you may need to repair someday; then this is a question for you: Do you have the Right to Repair?
There are two main factors, or in many cases obstacles, that need to be considered when asking this question.
It is very common in the world of manufacturer polices to refuse repair on a device that has been previously repaired by a non-authorized party. This is true even if the previous repair did not in any way damage the product or lead to the defect in question. By ignoring this policy, the consumer can void the devices warranty for all future issues which will potentially force them to replace, rather than repairing the device.
Lack of access to required resources can make even an out-of-warranty repair difficult, or even impossible.
Many manufacturers do not make their manuals public, thereby making repairs much more challenging for consumers and local repair shops. A leader in the Right to Repair movement, ifixit.com, creates repair manuals and other resources for consumers and local repair shops to utilize.
For some repairs, software is required to complete the repair process. Without the ability to access that software, the repair cannot continue and the consumer is forced to follow the authorized repair route.
Spare parts can be very hard to source, especially as the model nears its end of life. With so many spare parts being stocked at authorized repair shops, consumers and local repair shops will often face difficulty in locating what they need as well as higher costs. This is especially true for batteries which often have a lesser warranty life than the product. If the consumer is unable to source a battery and they have voided their manufacturer warranty, or the product is out of warranty, the only option may be replacement of the entire unit.
So, what do you think. Do you have the Right to Repair? Let us know in the comments below or on our LinkedIn post.