What has Covid-19 taught us about the Right to Repair?

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. More on our article on the right to repair here.

For decades, farmers and others in the agricultural sector have been calling for a right to repair their own equipment. One of many motivations behind this movement is the rural locations and less populated areas in which farmers are generally located, have less options and longer wait times for onsite service visits as well as lack of access to carry in services for products that are easily transportable. That is not so different from the situation many people are in right now. For many of us, up until recently, if an item we own broke, we could drive to our local warranty service provider or computer repair shop for assistance. Since Covid-19, this has become more challenging and for some even impossible. Customers self isolating, closed businesses, reduction of staff, longer wait times on manufacturer help lines, lack of access to parts from third parties and more lead to the question; With a manual and access to parts and or the right software tools, could you repair it yourself?


The reality is, for some situations the answer will be no. Repairs can take a higher technical skill or require specialized repair tools, and of course the important factor that should always be considered when discussing computer repairs is reducing electrostatic discharge, or ESD. However, there will be many repairs that can be done with access to the right software, ability to receive an easily replaceable part in warranty (or purchase for out of warranty) directly to your home, manufacturer manuals and repair guides, and other tools that the Right to Repair movement argues should be made available. The idea that you are not allowed to repair your own item is one that is being argued around the world, and the impact Covid-19 is having only provides more examples of the need for self-repair to become mainstream in the world of manufacturer after sales service support. With many people working from home and with forced or voluntary closures of some businesses that would be responsible for repair; essential workers working remotely, people trying to stay in touch with their families, students and more are being impacted by lack of flexibility and the dependency we have on manufacturers monopoly over repairs.


Of course, the most important example of the importance of Right to Repair right now is ventilators in hospitals. Ventilators are extremely important in the fight against Covid-19 and many hospitals in many countries are reporting extreme shortages. So what happens if one breaks? If the medical staff were able to fix it themselves, for some it is no exaggeration to say lives could be saved. For more on the struggle hospitals are having with the manufacturers of ventilators --> Hospitals Need to Repair Ventilators. Manufacturers Are Making That Impossible


So what do you think? Has the impacts of Covid-19 changed how you view the Right to Repair? What has Covid-19 taught us about the Right to Repair?


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