You might have heard the term right to repair being thrown around in recent years and thought little of it. Maybe you’re an engineering graduate and fixing something yourself is not only a piece of cake for you but also your idea of a good time. Or maybe you are good with your hands but it would be ludicrous to spend your hard earned weekend fixing something yourself. Especially if you can hand it over to the well reviewed local repair shop that will do a perfect repair for a fair price.
Unfortunately without right to repair legislation manufactures have the power to take away your option to do either. Manufactures can refuse to provide documentation as to how to fix or service a product. Through monopolistic control of the supply chain manufacturers can make it so that consumers need to return their broken product directly to them if they want them repaired. Often repairs carried out by the manufacturer are done at exorbitant prices making the prospect of repairing the product uneconomical incentivizing customers to just purchase the newer product model. Through tight control of the supply chain manufacturers can even force the end of life of a product by no longer manufacturing replacement parts and/or suing a company that does. Manufacturers have even gone as far as making it difficult for wholesalers and repair shops to buy and sell used parts in bulk and suing repair shops for using unlicensed parts. This means that a product that could be easily repaired gets thrown in the trash all because a cheap, new or used, component part is unavailable.
You still might be thinking that all of this doesn’t concern you. You might be the type of person that buys a new phone every year, whether it needs replacing or not, or if something breaks you’ve got the money to buy a new one. Why is this such a big deal? What if I told you it could literally be the difference between life and death.
Below is a video that highlights how not having right to repair legislation in place affects everyone in society. The video is a conversation between Louis Rossmann and an hospital employee discussing all the difficulties an operating table manufacturer has put it place to make their operating table irreparable. Instead of the hospital having the option of repairing an operating table for the price of a $1,800 dollar hydraulic pump the hospital will be forced to buy either a used operating table for approx. $20 K plus or a new table at $40 K plus. That’s the potential difference in the salary of a nurse for a year.
Clearly this is not an isolated problem only affecting people at an individual level leaving repairable consumer products broken. By not affording individuals the right to repair their own devices this translates to restrictions on organizations doing the same. At an individual level it’s a shady business practice at best but scaled up to the organizational level it can be downright morally reprehensible.
Louis Rossmann is an American independent repair technician, YouTube personality, and right to repair activist. He is the owner and operator of Rossmann Repair Group in New York City, a computer repair shop established in 2007 which specializes in logic board-level repair of MacBooks.
Rossmann is active campaigner and advocate for right to repair legislation. The right to repair refers to government legislation that is intended to allow consumers the ability to repair and modify their own devices, where otherwise the manufacturer of such devices requires the consumer to use only their offered services.
If you would like to help Mr Rossmann in his fight to protect consumer right to repair in the state of New York please consider donating to his nonprofit called Repair Preservation Group Action Fund available through the link below.