When it becomes difficult to repair products, customers are in a bind

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It’s only a few months old, but my iPhone feels shabby. It is always tired. I make a couple of calls on the phone, the juice is low and it takes hours to charge. It is difficult to repair the phone by yourself. I own it, but I can’t fix it.

I’m not alone. And “in industries that range from electronics to agriculture to medical equipment, the right to repair is growing in importance,” ABC News recently reported.

I want my right to be repaired.

“Anything that currently has a chip is unlikely to be repaired without the manufacturer,” says Gay Gordon-Byrne, Managing Director of the Repair Association, said ABC.

Small repair shop operators say manufacturers have made it difficult to find, buy, and install the often expensive replacement parts.

Louis Rossmann, who repairs laptops, is a Right to Repair activist with 1.6 million YouTube followers. “This is not something that only applies to Apple, nor to the laptop repair industry,” Rossmann told ABC.

Apple says that “it is expanding repair options around the world, referring to its independent repair program, which aims to give qualified companies access to its parts. And the company says customers should have convenient access to safe and reliable repair services, ”noted ABC.

My late father would be outraged. Andrew N. Washington Sr. was a professional postal worker. And for decades he thrived in a part-time job as a master repairman. He was the type who could fix any television thanks to his invaluable skills learned in the U.S. Army.

Daddy used to be the most popular TV mechanic on the South Side of Chicago, from Bronzeville to South Shore to Pullman.

In those low-income and working-class neighborhoods, when the subway broke down, there was no money to buy a new one. So you went to “wash”.

Family, friends, and neighbors dragged their Magnavox, Motorola, Philco, and Zenith televisions to his door.

I remember him in our living room, bent over those massive electronics boxes, his fingers skillfully busy with cathode ray tubes, vacuum tubes, transistors, transformers, and a jungle of wires. Its electronic wizardry helped bring food to our table.

When Daddy suddenly died in 1990, I found a dozen televisions in his basement waiting for repairs, leaving robbed owners behind.

Today hardworking entrepreneurs like my father and their customers deserve their right to repair.

Corporate giants have found yet another way to exploit our economic system for their lucrative gain. They have developed products that cannot be repaired or replaced without them.

The Federal Trade Commission warned in May that manufacturers are making repairs difficult by using adhesives that make parts difficult to replace and limiting the availability of replacement parts, tools, and software.

In July, President Joe Biden signed an executive order calling on the FTC to develop regulations that would prohibit manufacturers from such practices.

The agency then issued a statement calling for stronger enforcement. “If consumers and businesses are prevented from making their own choices about how to fix products, the total cost of repairs can increase significantly, harmful electronic waste can be created, and waiting times for repairs can be unnecessarily increased,” the FTC said.

The Repair Association is working to pass new laws in Illinois and other states.

“It’s yours. You own it,” demands the Repair.org website. “You shouldn’t ask permission from the manufacturer to repair it if it breaks. Tell your lawmaker that you want the right to have it repaired.” ”

Send letters to [email protected].

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