Choosing to have electrical, electronic, and computer equipment repaired is a decision that sometimes has to be made, and given the issues involved it can be difficult to make that decision.
Repairing an item can sometimes be cheaper than replacement and it is often a more environmentally friendly alternative. However, with the rapid changes in technology repairing an older piece of technology may not be viable. For example, the older CRT computer monitors are bulky and use more energy that the newer LCD monitors. Therefore, if a CRT monitor fails it is usually better to upgrade to an LCD monitor.
In recent decades it has become more difficult for technicians to repair equipment for a number of reasons. Modern technology is often complex and requires specialist training, data, and equipment to carry out repairs. Sometimes manufacturers do not release service data making it difficult for both authorised service agencies and third party organisations to carry out repairs.
Manufacturers often use techniques to make reapirs a difficult option. The Us Federal Trade Commission lists a number of these techniques:
- Product designs that complicate or prevent repair;
- Unavailability of parts and repair information
- Designs that make independent repairs less safe;
- Policies or statements that steer consumers to manufacturer repair networks;
- Application of patent rights and enforcement of trademarks;
- Disparagement of non-OEM parts and independent repair;
- Software locks and firmware updates; or
- End User License Agreements.
The Repair Association as well as other organisations are advocating for legislation that would allow consumers and repair organisation access to service data. There is also a an emerging movement, labelled the Right to Repair, towards ensuring that any item purchased can be repaired by individuals or organisation other than the manufacturers or their service agents. Another recent development is community run Repair Cafes.
The complexity of the repair process is made easier with the advent of the internet. Solutions to faults are often shared in online forums allowing both technicians and DIYers to sometimes be more efficient at repairing equipment.
As is the case with new equipment you should in most cases expect a warranty on any repairs carried out. Sometimes, because of technical reasons, a repair organisation cannot offer a warranty on repair.
E-waste is a global issue and an increasing volume of the waste stream. Repairing faulty equipment helps to address this issue to a degree.
- Repair versus refurbishment, on the Ecotech Services knowledge base.
- Ecotech Services blog posts relating to repairs
- Open Repair Alliance, an international group of organisations committed to working towards a world where electrical and electronic products are more durable and easier to repair.
- restarters, an international organisation promoting repairs
- ifixit, a US based organisation that promotes the repair industry.
- Nixing the Fix: An FTC Report to Congress on Repair Restrictions, May 2021, US Federal Trade Commission
As Australia considers the right to repair, it’s worth thinking about how the items we use daily became so disposable.
The ‘maker movement’ is a grassroots success story, refueling interest in engineering and giving kids practical skills with tools. But now we need something new. We need to apply those maker skills to what we already own, giving broken devices a new lease on life. In short: we need a fixer movement.
Last updated: September 3, 2021 at 11:18 am