Why Fixing Your Broken Phone Could Become A Hell Of A Lot Easier

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If you’ve ever cracked your phone screen or tried to get a new battery, you’ve probably felt the frustration of trying to get it repaired or replaced.

Especially without voiding your warranty.

But a set of new proposed laws could make it a whole lot easier for Australians to get their broken tech fixed.

New Consumer Rights Laws

Australia is lagging behind other countries when it comes to consumers being able to repair their own products.

Warranty regulations and a limited number of authorised service providers often make it really tricky to ever get anything replaced.

But a new inquiry report has just been published by The Productivity Commission, and it’s pushing for something called the ‘right to repair’.

A draft was released back in June, which had suggestions on how the government could improve its laws to give consumers more rights.

And the recommendations in this new one are mostly the same.

One is to change warranty regulations so that consumers wouldn’t be limited to only using repair services that have been authorised.

But to also keep those authorised services accessible, even if a different one has been used before.

It also wants to see the ACCC be able to use tougher enforcement, like being able to actually fine companies that don’t comply with repair regulations.

The report has been called a major step forward for consumer rights, especially considering more and more products are incorporating technology, and will likely need to get repaired at some point.

The UK recently passed laws to make sure that companies have spare parts available for consumers.

And US President Joe Biden recently signed an order for the Federal Trade Commission to draft new regulations around the right to repair in America.

This idea is gaining momentum around the world, and this report is an opportunity for Australia to catch up.

What’s The ‘Right To Repair’ Movement?

The right to repair movement is essentially a response to companies increasingly insisting that only the manufacturers of their products should be repairing them.

People are calling for that to change.

And that includes making things like manuals and spare parts available, as well as giving the green light to warranties that allow for third-party repairs.

Sustainability is also a big part of the conversation, which favours getting something repaired instead of just throwing it out.

And when that can of worms gets opened up, there’s a whole conversation about planned obsolescence.

That’s where products are deliberately designed to have a shorter lifespan, like glued in batteries that can’t be replaced, or software updates that make it harder to use.

Some of the biggest drivers of the right to repair movement aren’t urban technology consumers, but actually farmers with $800,000 tractors.

John Deere is a company that manufactures a lot of farming equipment, and has been incorporating more and more software into its products.

The problem is, that software is copyrighted.

Some farmers have ended up hacking their own tractors to be able to fix them, and John Deere has been on the receiving end of a lot of criticism about it.

The solution probably won’t come from manufacturers or dealers, but legislation and laws, which is what makes this inquiry report such a big step for the right to repair movement.