Overview: People spent more time at home, devices were breaking down more than usual, and the ‘right to repair’ bill was born.
In 2012, Massachusetts passed the first right to repair law that required motor vehicle manufacturers to provide the necessary documents to repair their cars. This year, the latest ‘right to repair’ bill reemerged on the scene for various devices — and with crowdfunding and many dissatisfied device users.
What is the right to repair bill
Who was affected by the lack of device repairs & how
The pandemic made living without a computer harder than ever. Employees were working remotely, kids were going to school via laptop, and grandparents were visiting with their grand kids on screens. And it was harder to get broken devices fixed.
Many big chain stores ceased offering on-site repairs, resulting in many people being forced to send their devices to authorized repair facilities — often waiting weeks for them to be returned.
This resulted in feelings of powerlessness; and that inconvenience couldn’t be avoided because small repair shops and DIYers couldn’t get the parts or manuals needed to finish the job anyway.
The resulting frustration gave new impulse to at least 39 so-called right-to-repair bills in 25 states in the U.S. and other places around the world. The legislation loosened restrictions on manufacturers’ information and parts and allowed small repair shops and handy device owners to do their own fixing.
What exactly is the right to repair movement
Right to repair is a movement for establishing government legislation intended to allow consumers and businesses to repair and modify their own consumer and commercial devices and equipment. This is in response to the age-old practice of manufacturers requiring the consumer or business to use its offered services.
This movement also advocates and is pushing for companies to provide service manuals so that individuals or any small repair shop has the information needed to perform the repairs.
Right to repair applies to all sorts of devices, including farm equipment, hospital equipment, computers, automobiles and, of course, our beloved computers and phones.
How the pandemic affected device users around the world
Colleen Creer, a 26-year-old customer service rep from Portland, was in a bind at the end of 2020. She’d just lost her in-person job with a major retailer because of a COVID-19 closure and wanted to do the same type of work remotely. One problem: Creer, who has lived on the edge of poverty for years, didn’t have a computer.
Free Geek, a nonprofit organization in Portland, salvages broken laptops, tablets and desktops, fixes them, and provides them at low or no-cost to people who can’t afford new ones. But while the pandemic heightened the demand for Free Geek’s repaired computers, corporate policies preventing easy access to parts, manuals and equipment made it harder for the nonprofit to complete its mission.
In Maryland, some Marylanders called it the “just let us fix our stuff” bill. And it’s wasn’t just about saving money and being able to get the job done; consumer groups also contended that repairing devices was more environmentally friendly than throwing them away.
Sure, many states have opened back up, but we can’t forget the affects of the pandemic on all of us. Hopefully, we can be better prepared moving forward for something like this. In the meantime, drop by one of our locations and fix that broken phone, computer, or other device!