New year, new stuff? Not if these guys can help you get a new part or a quick repair for a fraction of the price. That’s what the Right to Repair movement is all about.
Right to Repair vs Planned Obsolescence
Right now, many, if not most, products are designed to be temporary: we use them for a short time and then as soon as something small gets damaged, we throw the thing away.
This is often because even when people want to repair the item, their ability to do so is blocked because the necessary parts or information are held hostage, and serious punishment can follow anyone who tries to access or use the information.
This is called Planned Obsolescence – a strategy of ensuring that the current version of a product will be out of date or useless within a certain time period so people will seek replacements, thereby boosting sales.
- This can happen through introducing a replacement product (which is often marginally different than the last model), or designing the product to stop working in a specific timeframe. Investopedia
But under the Right to Repair movement companies would need to offer extended repair services at affordable prices, or at least make it possible for others to get the parts and information and do repairs.
Why it matters
Put simply, planned obsolescence is bad for the planet and your wallet.
Even where repairs are possible, they are often only available through the brand with timeframes that make waiting impossible for anyone who relies on that item for their livelihood or daily life.
- Brand-supplied repairs can take weeks and come at prohibitive, artificially inflated costs.
Frustratingly, this whole kerfuffle is totally unnecessary.
In an ideal world, those who deal with large and/or expensive devices and pieces of equipment would be able to take their stuff to a local repairperson or do the repairs themselves. This could save some individuals, like farmers, up to tens of thousands of dollars per year!
Thankfully, in a lot of places, change is happening:
- The European Union recently voted to make repairs cheaper and easier: suppliers must prioritize repairs over replacements and must make spare parts accessible at fair prices. EEB
- Quebec, Canada, wants to obligate companies to make replacement parts accessible and installable with normal tools. CBC
- Quebec also passed strong “anti-lemon” rules to protect consumers from defective car sales. Driving.ca
- The Canadian Government has also moved legislation forward that would make repair information for electronic devices available to everyone. CBC
- Over 40 states in the USA are working on making repair information available to the public. WIPO