The right to repair: is it a necessary right?

This picture depicts someone repairing a video game controller. It is debated whether manufacturers should give consumers easier access to tools/resources when repairing things.

Oliver Critchley

This picture depicts someone repairing a video game controller. It is debated whether manufacturers should give consumers easier access to tools/resources when repairing things.

With the rise of COVID-19, new machines and devices have been needed to fight the spread of the disease, like air filters and temperature guns. These are manufactured by companies that intentionally design them so that they are hard or sometimes impossible to repair, which forces the customer to replace the product entirely or send it to a shop to get it repaired for a price.

This injustice has caused a major uprising in the right to repair movement. The right to repair is a legislation that requires companies to make it possible to fix their products and to provide adequate tools and instructions on how to do so. As of now, this legislation has passed in fourteen states. Not only does this affect medical devices but also things like cars, video game consoles and phones. 

This movement generally has positive feedback among students.

“I think it’s a really good protection for the consumer,” said junior Aidan Myers. “It helps prevent big companies like Apple locking you out of repairing your phone. It gives you other options than just having to give it straight to Apple.”

“I think the right to repair movement is something with great potential for consumers everywhere,” said junior Bianca Gawka. “I support it because I personally have found myself buying brand new products, especially cell phones, that fail to last for any longer than one to two years. Repair costs are too high and replacement costs aren’t even worth it.”

However, some manufacturers like Apple believe repairs should be left to the professionals, not the consumers.

When a repair is needed, a customer should have confidence the repair is done right.” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer, in a release made in August 2019. “We believe the safest and most reliable repair is one handled by a trained technician using genuine parts that have been properly engineered and rigorously tested.”

Some students, however, believe that this claim by Apple has an ulterior motive.

“I think their primary focus on a statement like that is so they can earn additional profits off people’s damages,” said Myers.

The right to repair movement, whether you prefer fixing things yourself or getting a professional to do it, has helped consumers in the long run. Just remember to stay safe when repairing things yourself and to only repair it if you believe it is within your limits 

“It really depends on what field of education you come from,” said junior Mason Mills. “If you come from a field where you understand how these phones work, then you should be able to repair it yourself; otherwise, get a professional to do it.”