Trying to repair mobile phones and gadgets is not always easy. The user is forced to go to either the manufacturer’s service centre or an authorized service centre. Often, this is very expensive, and most users replace their phones instead of getting them repaired. Although third-party service centres are available, they might not be able to repair your device entirely because companies make it harder for third-party service providers to get the original spare parts and tools. To make things worse, companies use proprietary technology in their devices. This makes it almost impossible for the users or third-party service centres to repair the device.
Not only does it cause inconvenience to the users, but it damages the environment as well. Since the repair costs are skyrocketing, people find replacing the phone more worthwhile than getting it repaired. This way, the e-waste is increased and thus harms the environment. However, most OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) are unconcerned about this as they will lose a lot of revenue if they implement the ‘right to repair.
Thankfully, the government ensures these OEMs stop their malpractices by implementing the ‘right to repair’ law. Yes, it is now mandatory for all OEMs to follow the ‘right-to-repair laws. So, let’s look at ‘right to repair.’
What is the Right to Repair?
The right to repair is proposed government legislation allowing users and third-party service providers to access the original spare parts and tools needed to repair mobile phones or other gadgets. The law has been implemented in several countries across the globe, including the US, the UK, and the European Union. India has also adopted the framework recently.
Right to Repair Portal India
The Right to Repair Consumer portal was launched by Mr Piyush Goyal, the Indian Minister of Consumer Affairs (Government of India). All companies selling goods in India must upload information such as Product Information, Repair manuals, and links to spare parts on the website.
The portal will provide customers with the necessary information to repair their products independently or seek repairs from third-party services instead of relying solely on the original manufacturers. The right-to-repair initiative covers four sectors consumer durables, electronic devices, automobiles, and farm equipment.
Measures Taken by the Government
On 13 July 2022, The Department of Consumer Affairs of the Indian government held a meeting where the committee briefly discussed the right to repair.
“The aim of developing a framework on the right to repair in India is to empower consumers and product buyers in the local market, harmonize trade between the original equipment manufacturers and the third-party buyers and sellers, emphasize on developing sustainable consumption of products and reduction in e-waste. Once it is rolled out in India, it will become a game-changer for the sustainability of the products. As well as serve as a catalyst for employment generation through Aatmanirbhar Bharat by allowing third-party repairs,” the centre said in a statement.
The government is taking a good example from other countries to implement the right to repair in India. The government wants to stop the mean practices of OEMs and develop a healthy trade between OEMs and third-party buyers and sellers. It is also looking forward to organizing repair workshops where many users can participate and learn how to repair their devices. Regulations to prevent OEMs from installing obstacles in the repair process have also been integrated into the act. The government has understood the impact of the right to repair and is implementing it for the welfare of the people and the country.
A vital aspect of the act states, “Tech companies should provide complete knowledge and access to manuals, schematics, and software updates and to which the software license shouldn’t limit the transparency of the product in sale. The parts and tools to service devices, including diagnostic tools, should be made available to third parties, including individuals so that the product can be repaired if there are minor glitches.”
The aim is to bring affordable and viable repair parts to consumers and third parties. Companies are also responsible for providing complete knowledge and access to manuals needed for the repair. Furthermore, if any gadget lasts for more than a particular period, it has to be replaced due to the unavailability of parts. The government will not tolerate this culture of ‘planned obsolescence.
Impact on the Consumers
Previously, companies tried to restrict users from getting their devices repaired by themselves or a third party. The companies did everything they could, from proprietary hardware technology to software restrictions. Finally, the expensive repair costs at manufacturer’s service centers drove users to replace their phones.
The right to repair act is every consumer’s dream. Once implemented, the act will benefit the consumers and protect the environment. However, the consumer is the one who will be enjoying most of the benefits.
Since companies have no control over where the consumers repair their devices, they will suffer a considerable loss. Because users will be less likely to replace their phones or other gadgets, consumers can now repair their own devices or go for a third-party service without worrying about the device’s warranty. Thus, consumers will have complete freedom of where they want to get their phones repaired.
Impact on the Environment
Replacing phones instead of repairing them generates a ton of electronic waste. Although up to 95% of the raw materials of an electronic device are recyclable, the vast majority of new electronics use little to no recycled raw materials. While the globe is conscious of the environment, such practices must stop. This is where the right to repair comes in.
If the repair process becomes more accessible and less expensive, more people will tend toward repairing their devices instead of replacing them. This will also create a market for second-hand devices where other people can buy repaired devices. All of this will drastically reduce the need to produce new devices, thus reducing the electronic waste and the harmful emissions produced while manufacturing new devices.
Impact on the Companies
All major OEMs like Apple, Samsung, Xiaomi, and others tend to take control over the spare parts and tools needed for a repair. Preventing them from indulging in such practices might affect their revenue. The monopoly of the companies will come to an end. Additionally, this could lead to a potential underground market for original spare parts. Most companies are unhappy with the decision. However, the impact remains to be seen.