Five state legislatures have introduced bills that would give customers the “Right to Repair” their own electronics. If the bills become law, they would force Apple and other companies to offer service manuals and easier access to repair parts to consumers and third-party repair firms.
The proposed new legislation aims to take on the “authorized repair” model employed by many companies, reports Motherboard, where only technicians and repair shops certified by the manufacturer are permitted to work on the broken device if the customer wishes to retain a warranty. Typically, these repair services are provided training by the manufacturer, as well as access to service manuals that are not provided to the public, and the ability to order replacement components.
The bills in Nebraska, Minnesota, New York, Massachusetts, and Kansas are all aimed at making it easier for consumers to obtain service for their electronic devices, either by obtaining the parts and information needed to make the repairs themselves, or go to an “unauthorized” service center for repairs using genuine parts.
Apple currently has a relationship with “Authorized Service Providers” which use Apple-certified technicians to make repairs to Apple’s Mac lineup of computers. These shops get their parts directly from Apple and have access to troubleshooting and repair manuals and other support that consumers and unauthorized repair shops don’t have access to.
Apple doesn’t offer an authorization program for iPhone and iPad repairs, so customers are forced to go directly to Apple for repairs on such devices. While there are a number of unauthorized shops that offer repairs of iOS devices, such providers are required to purchase repair parts via the somewhat iffy “gray market,” where components can sometimes be either recycled or counterfeit.
Legislators sponsoring the bills says allowing customers to make repairs will also have a positive impact on the environment, as more devices will be repaired, instead of simply being tossed in the nearest trash receptacle.
“Limited authorized channels result in inflated, high repair prices and high overturn of electronic items,” claim legislators behind the New York bill. “Another concern is the large amount of electronic waste created by the inability to affordably repair broken electronics.”
if at least one of the five states passes their bill into law, it could possibly have a domino effect, prompting other states to enact similar laws, allowing consumers across the country to perform their own repairs.