FTC Blasts Manufacturers for Making Product Repairs Difficult

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Woman with broken cell phone
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Manufacturers of many types of products create repair restrictions that make it unnecessarily difficult to fix items after they are broken, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

In a report to Congress — titled “Nixing the Fix” — the FTC says manufacturers make it more difficult to repair products by using things such as specialized screws and fasteners that cannot be opened without specific tools, or adhesives that cement components in place.

According to the FTC:

“Many consumer products have become harder to fix and maintain. Repairs today often require specialized tools, difficult-to-obtain parts, and access to proprietary diagnostic software. Consumers whose products break then have limited choices.”

The report concludes that “there is scant evidence to support manufacturers’ justifications for repair restrictions.”

The FTC goes on to detail ways of expanding consumers’ repair options and how the agency could assist in those efforts.

Consumer Reports notes that the FTC report arrives at a time when consumer advocates are promoting “right to repair” legislation in several states. In fact, since January, right-to-repair bills have been introduced in 27 states, CR says.

These laws would give consumers more options for where to get devices repaired. In the Consumer Reports story, Maureen Mahoney, a CR policy analyst, says:

“The model legislation, it’s pretty simple. Manufacturers should give consumers and third-party repairers equal access to the information, parts, and tools needed to fix devices that they now give to authorized repairers.”

Mahoney adds that if states begin passing such laws, it might lead to the passage of a national law.

For more on protecting yourself as a consumer, check out “10 Golden Rules to Avoid Getting Scammed.”

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