No one wants to own a device that can’t be fixed when it goes faulty.
But do we know how repairable our smartphones are?
A lot of phones listed on Amazon are quite difficult to repair. But people buying online have no clue about the repairability of the devices. To everyone’s relief, Amazon has, in some countries, started displaying a repairability score for its products.
As of now, this score isn’t displayed in the US, where consumers think they also deserve to know how fixable their devices are.
What is a Right to Repair Score?
The Right to Repair law aims to allow consumers to repair their devices. A repairability score gives you an idea of how easily you can get a device repaired if it goes wrong. In the case of cell phones, the score depends on three main factors:
- Availability of spare parts
- Ease of disassembly
- Support from the manufacturer
Between 1 to 10, consumers can identify and compare how repairable a device is before making the purchase. A score nearing 10 means that repairing the device is easy. It’s easy to disassemble and the spare parts can be sourced. In ideal cases, manufacturers also provide manuals with instructions on how to fix the device.
Normally, users only find out about their phone’s repairability when it’s too late. Right to Repair scores not only improve transparency within the market but also saves consumers time and money.
One of the upsides of the Right to Repair Act is that it’s good for the environment.
Let’s look at the numbers. According to statistics, electronic waste is the fastest-growing waste stream in the world. This means that there is a huge volume of unfixable devices being put on sale, which will ultimately affect the environment.
Providing everyone the right to get their devices repaired can prevent a lot of waste from polluting the Earth.
In the US, people spend an average of $1500 on new electronics every year. Even if we can improve a device’s lifespan by 50% through repairs, we can save up to $40 billion.
When it comes to tech, repairability scores can do wonders. The right way forward is to allow satisfactory repairs for all devices. Only then we can end the ongoing process of producing and then wasting our tech.
Moreover, having the right resources for repairs can help cell phone repair businesses too. They can order the right parts from the manufacturer and avoid wasting their customers’ money. Apart from having the right diagnostic software to test cell phones, repair shops also need guidelines from manufacturers.
Repairability is a Tricky Question
Since repairability scores depend on the parts and tech used to build a device, they are also tricky to calculate. You need to factor in the current technologies, design elements, and materials used in each smartphone model.
This means that devices scored 7/10 last year may not be as repairable as those scored 7/10 this year. However, comparisons made within the same year can be substantial.
The Right to Repair Our Devices
We pay for it, and we should be able to do as we wish with it. Smartphone manufacturers must provide the necessary information and resources required to repair their devices. Similarly, repair businesses need to look for the best possible solutions using the original parts to bring devices back to their original specifications.
According to the EU’s Right to Repair Act, “Within the legal guarantee, sellers will be required to offer repair except when it is more expensive than replacement.”
We Need Repairability Scores Around the World
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has initiated a public comment period until February 2. It is asking for feedback on how they can help states improve and foster repair.
Taking this as a window of opportunity, the Colorado Right to Repair movement has begun.
On January 24, the Colorado legislature introduced a House Joint Resolution, HJR-1005, calling on the Federal Trade Commission to develop a national Right to Repair score system. It would help consumers understand how repairable their devices are.
The movement is about working together to get manufacturers to give us the right to repair our stuff. When they do, it will be better for the environment, and better for our budgets.