What is the “Right to Repair” Movement all About?

Right to repair

The release of the iPhone 13 saw new technology emerge that made it more difficult to repair a mobile phone. To maintain all the features of the iPhone 13, consumers will need to take their handset to an Apple authorised repair centre. People risk losing some features and functionality on their phones if they choose an unauthorised repairer, greatly limiting their right to repair.

Not only are mobile phones affected by changing technology, manufacturers of many different products, including vehicles and other equipment, are limiting consumers on where they can get their products repaired. This is the reason the Right to Repair movement started.

What is the “Right to Repair” movement exactly?

The Right to Repair movement is an organised global group that is rapidly gaining traction. Their aim is to encourage a holistic reform of consumer, competition and environmental law. The idea is to recognise the consumer’s right to repair their goods, rather than replace them. The movement also aims to negate the requirement to return goods to the original manufacturer for repair at high prices.

It’s become a throw away society

If you’ve been around for a while, you’ll know that products were once built to last. These days, not only does it not last anywhere near as long, but rapid advances in technology have created an almost constant need to upgrade. This includes phones, electronic goods and just about every other product you can think of.

By restricting consumers in their ability to repair their devices or other equipment, by forcing them to pay top dollar at authorised repair centres, and by discontinuing the production of spare parts used in repair, the manufacturers have created a “throw away” society.

Customers are being pushed to only use authorised repairers which means that Authorised repairers can charge whatever they like, as they have no more competition.

In Australia, this almost forces people to upgrade their smartphone to a new model every year or two.

A hypothetical example of the way things are right now

You spend a thousand dollars or more on a brand-new laptop and after just a few short years, the battery dies completely or can barely hold a charge. A laptop should be mobile, but without a new battery, you’re tethered to a power outlet.

To fix things, you look to buy a new battery, but soon learn it’s impossible to install anyway. So, you either remain tethered for the rest of the laptop’s natural life, or you’re forced to drop another grand or two on a new computer.

This ‘now typical’ scenario applies to just about every product available on the market today.

Environmental issues

Cultivating a throw away generation of consumers spells bad news for the environment. The repair of mobile phones and other products is always better than replacement, as it leads to the following:

  • Less gadgets ending up in landfill.
  • The reduction of noxious and harmful gases due to a decrease in manufacturing.
  • A reduced carbon footprint.

Canada, some states in the US and also some regions of the EU have already started legislating on this matter. New legislation is forcing goods manufacturers to allow the repairing of their products at outlets of the consumer’s choosing.

The Right to Repair movement in Australia

The movement is gathering momentum all around the globe and it’s also gaining prominence right here in Australia. As the movement develops, there will be an increase in responsible consumption and production in our country. It will also allow thousands of small and independent repairers the right to continue to earn a living.

The Right to Repair movement doesn’t just include mobile phones and electronic devices, it includes equipment of all types. This helps protect consumers from organisations who are looking to capitalise on their already enviable positions. Without the resistance of movements like this, these companies would have a complete monopoly.

Australians are growing more and more concerned about the products they purchase and what happens to them when they no longer work (and repair isn’t possible) or have been superseded. As a nation, and as part of this global community, we’re becoming increasingly aware of the need to reuse, recycle and repurpose goods to keep them from ending up in landfill.

It only makes logical and practical sense to be able to repair and maintain the goods we buy, rather than needing to replace them every couple of years.

What the Right to Repair movement supports

To further clarify exactly what this movement is all about, let’s look at some of the key things Right to Repair supports:

  • For years, everyday consumers have been voicing their concerns about the barriers to, and the cost of, repairing mobile phones and tablets at authorised repairers. The Right to Repair initiative seeks to change all that.
  • Independent motor vehicle repairers have been lobbying for greater access to repair information and spare parts. Change will see this happen.
  • For a long time, farmers have experienced restrictions when it comes to repairing expensive agricultural equipment and machinery. The Right to Repair seeks to loosen those restrictions.

Tech companies and equipment manufacturers, to name a few, spend millions (and perhaps billions) developing and manufacturing these new and improved products. The Right to Repair movement is lobbying for corporations to share their advances and technical information rather than hide it. Unauthorised repairers need access to this vital information so they can repair devices and equipment properly. For example, to enact a repair on a mobile phone, the repairer needs access to the phone’s functionality.

Additionally, the Right to Repair movement is seeking an Enquiry to look into the potential benefits and costs associated with what it endorses. This would include current and potential legal implications. Draft reports are now ready and available, so we’ll just have to wait and see what happens in the near future.

Our support is unwavering

Mobile Source Group will continue to support all consumer’s rights to choose their preferred repairer for mobile phones and other equipment and devices. Consumers should always have the option of either cost-effective repair or a new purchase.

We stock a quality range of spare parts for mobile phones and electronic devices, along with refurbished Apple products. Get in touch today for further information or browse our website.