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Right to Repair legislation aims to give consumers free choice

right to repair
Posted at 10:27 AM, Mar 30, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-01 13:07:02-04

NORFOLK, Va. - Let's say you buy a phone and it breaks, who fixes it? It turns out that your options are pretty limited.

That's why consumer advocates are putting a renewed pressure on manufacturers, in an effort to give consumers their freedom of choice back.

"We argue, because you own it, you should be able to get something repaired how and when you want," said Kevin Brasler, Executive Editor with Consumers checkbook, a nonprofit that works for your wallet.

Consumer advocate Kevin Brasler said the problem is that products are made in a way that's hard for the consumer to repair.

He sat down with News 3's Erin Miller to talk about the Right to Repair legislation making its way through Congress. He said essentially it's written that manufacturers, like tech companies and automakers, should make it easier for consumers to repair the stuff that they buy.

"So if that means taking it to an independent shop, you should be able to do that. If it means doing the repair on your own, you should be able to do that also," said Brasler.

Often times that's not even an option because the independent shops don't have the right tools to fix it, or the manufacturers claim it will void the original warranty.

Brasler said that means you, the consumer, don't have a choice. This legislation is pushing to change that.

"Whenever there's not competition, whenever consumers don't get a choice, or a say on how things work for them on stuff they own, then they suffer. They either pay more, or they have to pay more because they have to replace something that they can't get repairs," he said.

This conversation isn't new though. Over the years, there have been a number of similar bills and some companies have made changes. Just recently, Apple announced the Self Service Repair which lets customers, who feel comfortable, have access to specific parts, tools, and manuals.

Manufacturers on the other hand said it really is about safety and that their technicians are trained to do the repair work.

While the legislation makes its way through Congress, there are some things you can do.

Check out iFixit, an online repair guide for consumer electronics and gadgets. You can see if your smartphone or tablet is fixable at home. Also read the warranty because companies are legally required to make it available to a consumer before they buy.