EU Set to Introduce ‘Right to Repair’ Legislation on Electronics

I think it’s more than likely that nearly everyone reading this has likely experienced that moment when you drop your smartphone or tablet and pick it up to find that the screen has been damaged or, perhaps worse, something has gone seriously wrong inside. On a similar subject, you might also have had problems if your PS4 starts sounding like a harrier attempting VTOL or your Xbox gives you the ring of death.

Sadly though, these days it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to actually fix broken technology. Particularly if you choose to do so through official channels where the expense is certainly a factor. I believe the technical term is whether the repair is ‘economically viable’ and, too often for electronics, it is not. It’s like taking your £800 car in for an MOT and getting a repair estimate of £1,000.

Perhaps it’s somewhat ironic that repairs have become more difficult (and, by proxy, costly) as technology has (seemingly) become far more fragile. Well, fortunately, in a report via Engadget, the EU might be looking to introduce some new legislation that will be welcome to many consumers!

EU To Introduce New ‘Right to Repair’ Legislation

So, what can we expect from it? Well, the EU wants to require manufacturers to not necessarily make it more affordable to repair products, but more specifically, make it less likely to be an inefficient option for electronics.

Let’s come up with an example. Let’s say you own a £100 tablet and accidentally snap off the charging port. A fairly common accident. At this point, you are left with a choice. You can attempt to have it repaired (likely at the cost of around £60-£70) and hope that it works. Alternatively, you can just spend an extra £20 and get something new and shiny that’s probably as good as the original. I’ve been in this position myself and must admit, I choose the latter option. In fact, I didn’t even consider the ‘repair’ worth it!

What the EU wants to do though, is to make this option less attractive. Specifically by forcing manufacturers to make repairing and replacing components a simpler aspect of the design.

What Do We Think?

I own a smartphone and, having had a quick look at it for the purpose of this article, I can honestly say that if I wanted to disassemble (let’s say for an attempted homebrew repair), I wouldn’t know where to begin! This basically highlights what the EU is proposing to change. Specifically, so that repairing technology can be more viable and, by proxy, people will be more likely to stick with their electronic devices for longer rather than just buying replacements.

Will it work though? Well, I can honestly see a lot of resistance from a lot of manufacturers. It’s well known, for example, that Apple can be very funny if you’ve let an unapproved 3rd-party get their hands on their technology and (in addition) usually charge you a kidney to replace a damaged screen. If it can, however, make people use things for a little longer than they usually might, it (at least in terms of the environment) sounds like a decent idea.

What do you think? Would this legislation really be viable? What happened to the last piece of electronics you had that got damaged? Did you just replace it? – Let us know in the comments!

Mike Sanders

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