When you own a device, you should be allowed to fix it or bring it to the repair shop of your choice. But many manufacturers place unfair restrictions on the repair of their products — from smartphones to laptops to tractors. That hurts consumers and contributes to our waste problem.
That could all change soon. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) could take a major step toward securing Americans’ right to repair, and it’s crucial we demonstrate broad public support for ending unfair repair restrictions.
In 2019, the FTC held a workshop called “Nixing the Fix,” launching an investigation into repair restrictions. But since then, the agency has done nothing to address the rising trend of unfixable devices. We helped convince Congress to require the FTC to report its findings, but we also know that isn’t enough. We need action.
We’ve launched a new petition to the FTC calling for action — along with our allies at iFixit and Repair.org — and we’d love your support.
When consumers are able to hold on to their devices for longer, they see big savings. A report we released in January found that American families could save $40 billion every year if they could use their electronics for 50 percent longer — even including the cost of additional repairs. That’s more than $300 per family.
But that can’t happen if companies such as Apple keep restricting access to repair parts and information for their devices. And that’s where you come in, friend. If we send a resounding signal to the FTC that it needs to protect Americans’ right to repair, we can make huge progress toward cutting unnecessary costs for consumers.
It’s not just our pocketbooks that suffer when we’re forced to buy new devices instead of refurbishing the ones we have. Our country also has a growing electronic waste crisis — the average family generates 176 pounds of e-waste per year.
Even tractors can be subject to unfair repair restrictions, threatening farmers’ livelihoods and our food chains. John Deere installs digital locks on some of its equipment, which block anyone but an authorized John Deere technician from performing repairs.
Right to repair reform can help solve these problems — and momentum is building. This year, 26 state legislatures are considering Right to Repair bills.
If the FTC fines companies for breaking consumer protection laws and sends strong signals in favor of right to repair, it could give our work a critical boost. Add your name to tell the FTC that Americans need the right to fix the stuff we own.
Senior Director, Campaign for the Right to Repair, PIRG
Nathan leads U.S. PIRG’s Right to Repair campaign, working to pass legislation that will prevent companies from blocking consumers’ ability to fix their own electronics. Nathan lives in Arlington, Massachusetts, with his wife and two children.