If you buy something, you should own it, right? In theory, yes. However, President Biden has seen year after year of consumer advocates championing the Right to Repair movement only to see it go nowhere, leaving states to do what they can.
Biden now says enough is enough and, according to Bloomberg, will instruct the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to begin work on new regulations designed to give consumers the right to repair their devices on their own or at independent service providers.
The right to repair effort comes none too late for ConsumerAffairs reviewers. “How dare Keurig say you can't use your choice of product with,” Rain Wolf wrote in a recent review. “This is the same thing as [the] right to repair, which we will be voting on soon because people are so fed up with it. ... Me and my family will not buy products from those who attempt to do this.”
The fact that the effort is finally making some headway is also being applauded by consumer advocates. “It’s great news for everyone concerned with repair monopolies,” U.S. PIRG Right to Repair Senior Campaign Director Nathan Proctor told ConsumerAffairs.
“It also shows that the Right to Repair campaign is continuing to move forward, and win new support. Already, the vast majority of the American people agree with us. Now, it appears, the president also believes that people should be able to fix their stuff. It’s time for manufacturers to wise up, because we’re not going to stop pushing for our Right to Repair.”
Electronic manufacturers are high on the list
The FTC will have the final say on what the order will include, but farmers and tech manufacturers appear to be high on Biden’s list. It’s possible that the FTC will take a page or two out of existing state-based reforms regarding that segment.
As of mid-March, 25 states had policies in place requiring electronic equipment manufacturers to provide access to necessary items like manuals, parts, diagnostics, and tools so consumers can repair their devices on their own.
The giant wall that tech companies built between consumers and repair options is slowly starting to come down, lowering the cost of repairs. Last summer, Apple softened its repair arrangement, giving independent repair shops the right to work on iPhones and Mac computers.
Missing from the pro-consumer tech cheerleaders is Microsoft, a staunch Right to Repair foe. However, that could change by the end of the year. Shareholder advocacy group As You Sow recently filed a shareholder resolution requesting that Microsoft analyze the benefits of making its products more easily repairable by offering consumers tools, parts, and repair instructions.