CR4 - The Engineer's Place for News and Discussion ®


Electronic Product Design Blog

Electronic Product Design

The Electronic Product Design Blog is the place for conversation and discussion about EDA; DSP, SoC, programmable logic; power sources & conversion; interconnect & packaging; mechatronics; and thermal management. Here, you'll find everything from application ideas, to news and industry trends, to hot topics and cutting edge innovations.

Previous in Blog: Flexible Display Shipments to Increase in 2017   Next in Blog: DIY Bio-bots Use 3D Printing
Close
Close
Close
20 comments

The 'Right to Repair" Your Devices May Become Law

Posted February 01, 2017 11:14 AM by HUSH

Who owns your cell phone? Your computer? Your fitness tracker?

It’s seems like an obvious answer to a stupid question. If I bought something, I paid for it to be mine. Therefore, I can do whatever I want with it, right?

Yet pending legislation in five U.S. states—New York, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Kansas—will guarantee consumers the ‘Right to Repair’ whatever devices they own however they see fit. In recent years, the authorized repair service model has come under scrutiny, as companies like IBM and Apple won’t authorize third parties to perform warranty-compliant repairs on their products.

So consumers with a broken device are left with three choices.

  • DIY or hire someone to perform the repair and lose your product warranty. Vice notes that companies and individuals who perform unauthorized repairs sometimes have to resort to counterfeit parts, which ultimately can hurt device quality even more.
  • Ship it to the manufacturer who performs the repair, typically at a higher price, but maintain the warranty.
  • Buy a new device entirely, which is sometimes cheaper than the authorized repair.

Companies are typically able to enforce this by saying the devices have software and coding subject to DMCA, and therefore the hardware running it remains under their control as well.

Yet the proposed legislation would require manufacturers to sell genuine replacement parts, as well as offer diagnostic and service manuals. (As someone who recently paid $50 for an outboard motor service manual, this could be a blessing.)

If just one of the above states passes a right to repair bill, it could be enough to affect the entire electronics repair market. A similar event happened in Massachusetts in 2012, when it passed the Motor Vehicle Owners’ Right to Repair Act. In response, the automotive industry agreed to adopt the standards set out by the law across the industry, rather than risk varying standards and legal fights across all 50 states.

Besides being consumer protection legislation, there is also hope the Right to Repair acts could also dwindle the mounting supplies of electronic waste that are crowding landfills and potentially polluting nearby lands and water. A recent news article pointed out that 20 billion Internet of Things devices are expected to be up and running by sometime this year, so the future impact could be quite significant.

Right to Repair bills have popped up in state legislatures before, but always somehow fall victim to the influence of lobbyists. But with five states prepped to debate the bill, there is hope for our devices’ futures yet.

Reply

Interested in this topic? By joining CR4 you can "subscribe" to
this discussion and receive notification when new comments are added.

Comments rated to be "almost" Good Answers:

Check out these comments that don't yet have enough votes to be "official" good answers and, if you agree with them, rate them!
Guru

Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 5185
Good Answers: 502
#1

Re: The 'Right to Repair" Your Devices May Become Law

02/01/2017 11:42 AM

If you buy something, you have the right to repair it. But it is ridiculous to require a manufacturer to be bound to a warranty if someone that they do not authorize has repaired it. It is only fair to the manufacturer, and laws to the contrary just might result in the maker not offering a warranty of any kind.

If you peel the sticker off, you're on your own! IMHO.

Reply Score 1 for Good Answer
Guru

Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: South of Minot North Dakota
Posts: 8127
Good Answers: 749
#2
In reply to #1

Re: The 'Right to Repair" Your Devices May Become Law

02/01/2017 12:12 PM

I have no issue with that.

If anything I would love to see the software for many everyday devices made public so that us tinkers can get into our own stuff and make the wanted modification to it that we need to do to improve/fix certain functions of said items.

Obviously the manufactures have such programs for designing and editing their devices software plus the necessary systems to go in and redo it at will so why can't us customers have access to that too?

Reply
Guru
Engineering Fields - Electrical Engineering - Been there, done that, still doing it. Engineering Fields - Control Engineering - New Member

Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Long Island NY
Posts: 11894
Good Answers: 751
#4
In reply to #2

Re: The 'Right to Repair" Your Devices May Become Law

02/01/2017 2:29 PM

I'd love it if all of the software was open source. If it was then a lot of the "back door" hacks would be curtailed. Better yet, allow for true open source encryption and suddenly most privacy and identity theft concerns dwindle away.

__________________
"Don't disturb my circles." translation of Archimedes last words
Reply Score 1 for Good Answer
Guru

Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 5185
Good Answers: 502
#5
In reply to #4

Re: The 'Right to Repair" Your Devices May Become Law

02/01/2017 3:55 PM

Better yet, allow for true open source encryption and suddenly most privacy and identity theft concerns dwindle away.

PGP encryption...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pretty_Good_Privacy

Reply
Guru
Engineering Fields - Electrical Engineering - Been there, done that, still doing it. Engineering Fields - Control Engineering - New Member

Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Long Island NY
Posts: 11894
Good Answers: 751
#7
In reply to #5

Re: The 'Right to Repair" Your Devices May Become Law

02/01/2017 4:41 PM

Open PGP is certainly well above average at encrypting files. But with proprietary operating systems dominating the consumer market the certainty of blocking prying eyes and bots is up to the authors of the proprietary software. But wish you luck getting them to pay damages for a hack.

__________________
"Don't disturb my circles." translation of Archimedes last words
Reply
Guru

Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: South of Minot North Dakota
Posts: 8127
Good Answers: 749
#6
In reply to #4

Re: The 'Right to Repair" Your Devices May Become Law

02/01/2017 4:24 PM

Yea I see it as sort of pitting those who design things for a livings concepts against those who obsess over things for a living.

The 'paid to design it' guy and his approaches never stands a chance against the obsessive guys skills and determination.

Reply
Guru

Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: at the beach in Florida
Posts: 17696
Good Answers: 1010
#3
In reply to #1

Re: The 'Right to Repair" Your Devices May Become Law

02/01/2017 12:22 PM

Nonsense, the concept of authorized dealers is not new....and having to ship some device back to the manufacturer is bush league tactics that put the consumer at a disadvantage and subject to abusive tactics by 'only game in town' mentalities...Electrical devices sold in the US are required by law to offer a 1 year parts and labor warranty, without exception....and manufacturers are required to stock parts for at least 10 years on any device sold....after the first year anybody should be able to work on the device, and parts should be available and cheap....

__________________
Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving. A.E.
Reply
Guru

Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: South of Minot North Dakota
Posts: 8127
Good Answers: 749
#9
In reply to #3

Re: The 'Right to Repair" Your Devices May Become Law

02/02/2017 12:11 PM

".and having to ship some device back to the manufacturer is bush league tactics that put the consumer at a disadvantage and subject to abusive tactics by 'only game in town' mentalities..."

One major change I have seen and really appreciate since the advent of the internet and online shopping is the vast amount of reduction in much of that "only game in town" based price gouging on new items or replacement parts.

Many businesses still do it but at least any customer who's willing to spend a few minutes doing their online research has some pretty fair leverage to work with or the option to outrightly buy what they need someplace else.

The latest example I dealt with was the Outside Air Temperature sensor on my pickup went out and the local Ford dealership wanted just short of $90 for a new one. 10 minutes of online searching came up with one from another out of the area Ford dealership who sold the exact same Ford factory direct sensor to me for under $30 including the shipping.

Reply
Guru
United Kingdom - Member - Old New Member

Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: South east U.K.
Posts: 3284
Good Answers: 80
#8

Re: The 'Right to Repair" Your Devices May Become Law

02/02/2017 4:09 AM

Similar to the law in the UK which regarding car warranties. These were only valid if the main dealer carried out all servicing & repairs. Now any garage can service & repair a car without invalidating the warranty.

__________________
I didn't have a really important life, but at least it's been funny (Lemmy Kilminster 1945-2015)
Reply
Guru

Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 1298
Good Answers: 21
#10

Re: The 'Right to Repair" Your Devices May Become Law

02/02/2017 1:01 PM

If I recall from a few years back, the manufacturers set this up to protect their IP, and it came from the computer industry, then it progressed into cars, and everything else followed, as the manufacturer was 'guaranteed' to make money on repairs or further sales. It also justified the expensive 'specialist equipment' costs needed in the garage to service your vehicle. Such as these;

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/like/301835469895?clk_rvr_id=1162433465259&vectorid=229508&lgeo=1&item=301835469895&rmvSB=true

Another great marketing ploy to have the Joe Public declared ACP: Another Cash Point.

Reply
Commentator

Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: England
Posts: 83
Good Answers: 1
#19
In reply to #10

Re: The 'Right to Repair" Your Devices May Become Law

02/06/2017 5:25 AM

Even with one of those generic OBD devices some cars cannot be read, Merc's need specialist software and Land-Rover's whilst you can read some data need a specialist interface and software to do anything such as setting suspension height following height sensor replacement. Similarly BMW motorcycles need a specialist OBD to PC interface with additional software, so your looking at 60-100 times more the cost of one of those 'readers' as a minimum.

So we got rid of the Merc, borrow BMW club 'hire' unit for the bike, get a friend with the L/R gear to do that one...

Reply
Power-User

Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 458
Good Answers: 6
#11

Re: The 'Right to Repair" Your Devices May Become Law

02/02/2017 1:02 PM

I purchased a digital video recorder only to discover it would not function without a subscription to a monthly "service". I returned it for a refund. I now record directly to a disk. They're about 20 cents each.

Reply Score 1 for Good Answer
Associate

Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 45
Good Answers: 3
#12
In reply to #11

Re: The 'Right to Repair" Your Devices May Become Law

02/02/2017 11:10 PM

What brand?

Reply
Power-User

Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 458
Good Answers: 6
#20
In reply to #12

Re: The 'Right to Repair" Your Devices May Become Law

02/06/2017 2:32 PM

Tivo. The local cable company (Comcast) also rents DVR machines, for a price, of course. When it was owned by AT&T they offered us a deal on a stand-alone DVR. by the time I could afford to get one the offer had expired. It's possible to set up a computer to do the same thing but there are stand-alones out there.

But I just found this: http://askbobrankin.com/which_dvr_should_i_get.html

Reply
Guru

Join Date: May 2006
Location: Placerville, CA (38° 45N, 120° 47'W)
Posts: 4356
Good Answers: 157
#13

Re: The 'Right to Repair" Your Devices May Become Law

02/03/2017 12:29 AM

I've been a Mac enthusiast since the beginning of time (1984), and have been an Apple-certified Mac service technician, but I've always been offended by the designs intended to discourage or prevent unauthorized repairs.

I fully understand the need for service technicians to know what they are doing in order to maintain warranties, and have no problem with that. But the longest warranty obtainable (on any Apple device) is three years; after that, it should be consumer beware of who is repairing your unit. Once the warranty has expired, a knowledgeable user should be able to work on his own equipment. That means, in my mind, that such things as 3- and 5-lobed screw heads should not be permitted. I keep having to make or buy special tools to work on these things, and I think that should be illegal.

I would hope that this or subsequent legislation would address this part of the issue as well.

I agree that service manuals should be available free or at minimal cost to the public, once the maximum warranty period has expired. How much does it cost a company to put a service manual, already available to their service personnel, online for download? These days, it was probably online for their authorized personnel already, so it would just be a matter of where the document is stored, to allow public access.

The company IFixIt has been assigning repairability values to the various devices it takes apart. I'd love to see something like that required, just like furnaces, water heaters, refrigerators, etc. are required to have efficiency values of one form or another posted on the device.

__________________
Teaching is a great experience, but there is no better teacher than experience.
Reply
Active Contributor

Join Date: Sep 2016
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Posts: 17
Good Answers: 1
#14
In reply to #13

Re: The 'Right to Repair" Your Devices May Become Law

02/03/2017 1:40 PM

This post hits home for me because I just used an IFixIt kit and online instruction set last month to replace the battery in my iPhone. Thankfully, the kit included the 5-lobed screwdriver and another miniature screwdriver for the #000 screws inside of the phone.

I'm sure that performing this repair voided my warranty, but after two years, I doubt they were going to warranty the battery anyway. And certainly not for $35.00.

If anyone is interested in repairing their own devices (once it becomes lawful, of course ), I would recommend IFixIt.

Here is the guide I used:

https://www.ifixit.com/Guide/iPhone+6+Battery+Replacement/29363

* After proofreading this post I sound like I'm endorsing them or something. But no. Just pleased with the results of the repair.

Reply
Guru

Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: South of Minot North Dakota
Posts: 8127
Good Answers: 749
#15
In reply to #14

Re: The 'Right to Repair" Your Devices May Become Law

02/05/2017 11:58 AM

The first cell phone I got had the battery go bad under the warranty period so I took it to the nearest Verizon dealer that carried them for a replacement.

They wouldn't give me one because the store I went to hadn't sold me the phone themself despite the service plan I had gotten clearly saying that Verizon warrantied the phones but did not clearly state where the warranty work was to be done at.

Then to top it off once I did get back to the store I got it at somewhere along the way from my visit with the first store my entire service contract had disappeared off their systems so there was no proof I ever had a contract to begin with even though obviously my phone was one of theirs and I could make calls with it and have them tracked on their billing system.

After the bill was paid my phone service just shut off without explanation and when I went back to store with a printed copy of my last bill as proof of being a customer with a contract they couldn't find a single thing on their system to confirm I had ever been a customer. My entire account and everything related to it had just disappeared.

Hell of a way to get out of having to give me a new $35 battery for free but they would have been happy to sign me up for a new contract, that cost twice as much and gave me less services than the old one did instead.

Reply
Guru

Join Date: May 2006
Location: Placerville, CA (38° 45N, 120° 47'W)
Posts: 4356
Good Answers: 157
#16
In reply to #15

Re: The 'Right to Repair" Your Devices May Become Law

02/05/2017 12:50 PM

Wow! That's scary! If it was your first cellphone, I assume that was quite a few years ago...

__________________
Teaching is a great experience, but there is no better teacher than experience.
Reply
Power-User

Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 458
Good Answers: 6
#17

Re: The 'Right to Repair" Your Devices May Become Law

02/05/2017 5:06 PM

When I had a problem with an older digital camera I posed the question on CR4. They told me what was wrong, where to get a new part, and a video of how to do it. It was factory defect that would have been repaired at no cast if I had done something about it sooner. Which would have been a great deal since I paid a dollar for it at t thrift shop. Somebody place it in the film camera bin because it looked like one with it's display screen folded up.

Did you know a digital camera has about a million microscopic screws holding it together? They said it would take me a couple of hours. Four was more like it.

Then the new sensor was contaminated so I had to take it apart again. And the flexible circuits didn't want to make contact so I had to shim them up with wads of paper.

Then I found the next model up at a thrift store for two dollars. This time they knew what they were selling. This one came with instructions.

Reply
Power-User

Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 458
Good Answers: 6
#18

Re: The 'Right to Repair" Your Devices May Become Law

02/05/2017 5:08 PM

I found a Droid smartphone laying in the road. After fiddling with it and doing a little research it was obvious it was going to be of no use to me. But being the nice guy I am I turned it in to the company.

Reply
Reply to Blog Entry 20 comments
Interested in this topic? By joining CR4 you can "subscribe" to
this discussion and receive notification when new comments are added.

Comments rated to be "almost" Good Answers:

Check out these comments that don't yet have enough votes to be "official" good answers and, if you agree with them, rate them!
Copy to Clipboard

Users who posted comments:

Charlie Greenwood (4); Conman (1); dkwarner (2); IQ (1); Neiljohn (1); Nigh (1); redfred (2); Rixter (2); SolarEagle (1); steve45 (1); tcmtech (4)

Previous in Blog: Flexible Display Shipments to Increase in 2017   Next in Blog: DIY Bio-bots Use 3D Printing

Advertisement