You bought it. You use it. Should you be allowed to repair it whenever something goes wrong? The answer would seem to be a definite maybe, a certain yes, or, perhaps a qualified, it depends. Actually, the answer is more complicated.
Rolling through a variety of court cases and legislatures in the U.S. of A. are what is called ‘right to repair,’ but it’s more than just a simple Right to Repair what we already own. Some California lawmakers want to pass a bill– the Right to Repair bill– to require smartphone makers to provide repair information, parts, and tools.
It’s Mine, Right?
My father was one of those who repaired almost everything he owned. Washers, dryers, small appliances, and he told me stories of his father who repaired radios and televisions (back in the day when transistors were not, and tubes were in), car transmissions, car engines, and the like.
Those days are gone. We live deeply into the throwaway society of the 21st century so repairs of almost anything by the owner are becoming a faint memory. Why? Things are complicated these days but that hasn’t stopped a movement to give us– and those who want to go into business to help us– the option to repair what we probably don’t want to repair in the first place.
California Assemblymember Susan Talamantes Eggman:
The Right to Repair Act will provide consumers with the freedom to have their electronic products and appliances fixed by a repair shop or service provider of their choice, a practice that was taken for granted a generation ago but is now becoming increasingly rare in a world of planned obsolescence
I understand the sentiment. Similar bills are pending or moving forward in 17 additional states. This is a movement with legs and sooner or later one state will fall, and when one does, most become dominoes. Guess who does not want the Right to Repair to become law?
Honestly, I don’t mind, and I don’t have much of a dog in this hunt. I do not have the wherewith-all– time or experience or knowledge or tools or inclination– to repair any major product Apple makes; hardware or software, and whether it is mine to own and use and break, or belongs to the school where I work as a system administrator.
Apple currently requires customers who have Apple products in need of repair to visit an Apple retail store, mail a product to an Apple repair facility, or visit an Apple Authorized Service Provider to receive support for their devices. Repairs from third-party repair shops that are not Apple Authorized Service Providers can void a device’s warranty.
When one of my devices– or home appliances, or cars, or anything else beyond a clothespin or ethernet cable (I have, can, and do wire my own; though less and less in the age of Wi-Fi everywhere)– goes on the fritz I decide the value in time, expense, and loss of use, to determine a repair, replace, or discard strategy.
Somehow, that sounds wrong, but I suspect it’s also a common approach we take when something we own breaks. iPhone? Sorry. I’m not even going to try. If I crack a screen, I might take it to the Apple Store because Apple Care. I can recommend a little shop in the Mall that does repairs, too. They guy there is highly recommended. He’s not always there.
These days Apple products are less repairable than ever. You can’t even get to a battery or RAM chip in a Mac notebook these days, let alone know what to do when something goes wonky. I’ve thought about this long and hard and changed my mind. Apple should not be the only organization that fixes Apple’s products. That’s a monopoly and Apple is good at monopolizing such things for their own profit.
So, Right to Repair? It’s not for me. But for those who can be educated, trained, and gain experience to repair specific devices, Apple– and other technology companies– should provide them with all they need to do the job right. Training, parts, tools– whatever it takes. Apple could use a little competition in the repair business, right?