back to article Got some broken tech? Super Cali's trinket fix-it law brought into focus

Lawmakers in the US state of California are mulling proposed rules that would force electronics makers to allow people to repair devices themselves. The draft Right to Repair Act, introduced by Assembly member Susan Talamantes Eggman (D-Stockton), would require manufacturers to publish repair guides and diagnostics and offer …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hoorah !

    "The Right to Repair Act will provide consumers with the freedom to have their electronic products and appliances fixed by a repair shop or service provider of their choice, a practice that was taken for granted a generation ago but is now becoming increasingly rare in a world of planned obsolescence," Eggman said of the legislation.

    Am I missing something - or do we have a politician talking common sense here?

    Let's hope all other jurisdictions around the world introduce similar legislation, and that it is extended beyond consumer electronics to include eveything like washing machines, fridges, and even cars, which are quickly becoming throw-away or manufacturer only entire unit replacements.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hoorah !

      I hope it goes well. The actual repair people I've seen comment on it (Ok, just the 1), are sceptical. They assume it will be exploited, just as everything else is.

      1. vir

        Re: Hoorah !

        "This battery is no longer compatible with the latest version of iOS. Please upgrade to iBattery 2019."

      2. DRTRlady

        Re: Hoorah !

        Speaking for The Repair Association, which I lead, we've worked hard to recommend legislative wording that should constrain most of the bad behavior we see in the marketplace. Some OEMS will undoubtedly attempt to get around any statutes -- but the beauty of state laws is that they do not all have to match. Weaknesses in one state law can be fixed by another -- and so on until the task is complete.

      3. DRTRlady

        Re: Hoorah !

        The beauty of legislation in States is that there are 50 places to play. Whatever games OEMS play in one state can be fixed by another. It might take a few states to lock down all the bullies, but it will happen.

        1. sisk Silver badge

          Re: Hoorah !

          Let me preface this with a disclaimer: I'm a weirdo who doesn't value my own time nearly as highly as I should. I know, admit, and accept this.

          Frankly, time-economical or not, I'd probably be inclined to repair my phone myself every single time it broke provided I could get replacement parts for less than the cost of replacing the whole thing. What has kept me from doing so thus far are the dual facts that I'm usually ready to upgrade by the time I need to do any repairs anyway and on the rare occasion that hasn't been the case I've not been able to get parts for a halfway decent price.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Hoorah !

            "Let me preface this with a disclaimer: I'm a weirdo who doesn't value my own time nearly as highly as I should. I know, admit, and accept this."

            The mistake many people make is thinking that value=money and discounting the educational value, the fun and the sheer sense of satisfaction at doing stuff for yourself. That sort of value doesn't translate into cash. Obviously different people value different things in many different ways. I really could never be arsed to go play football or rugby every weekend like some do, or cycle rides etc.

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Hoorah !

      Unless it mandates a repairable design then it's all for naught.

      Getting out the heat gun to peel the screen off and dismantle half the innards to change the battery takes quite a while if you don't want to leave the phone looking like a mess, which makes the repair uneconomical.

      1. DRTRlady

        Re: Hoorah !

        Not all repairs will be practical or economical under Right to Repair -- but the OPTION is essential. Apple is only the poster-child for destructive repair monopolies. We're all going to need the option to buy parts, tools, get service diagrams and restore firmware for our digital widgets.

        1. DougS Silver badge

          "Apple is the only poster child for destructive repair monopolies"

          Maybe check out ifixit.com's repairability ratings before making that claim? iPhones are easier to fix yourself (especially as far as battery replacement) than many popular Android phones like Samsung Galaxy. I swapped the battery on my girlfriend's iPhone last fall, took less than 10 minutes and I'd only done it once before on a different model years before.

          If you want to be able to pop the back off and swap batteries, well, there are still some phones out there that will let you do that, but making that a law would be stupid. I am glad the days of having a loose battery door on my KRZR that kept falling off are in the past! Besides, the only things practical to fix/replace in any phone are the battery and display. How are you going to replace a bad wifi chip, or flash with too many bad sectors, when they're microsoldered onto a board with a lot of other stuff?

          I await the inevitable downvotes for daring to say something against Reg reader's strange obsession with going back in time to battery doors.

          1. Dan 55 Silver badge
            Facepalm

            Re: "Apple is the only poster child for destructive repair monopolies"

            Strange obsession with not having to pay whatever the manufacturer wants, or declare it unfixable and your only solution is a new one, or destroying the environment with an avalanche of landfill? You're right, it's madness.

          2. AndyS

            Re: "Apple is the only poster child for destructive repair monopolies"

            > I await the inevitable downvotes for daring to say something against Reg reader's strange obsession with going back in time to battery doors.

            I actually agree with you, and have said so here before (and accepted the downvotes). I do not need a battery that can be replaced in 10 seconds via a pop-off door.

            What I would not accept, though, is needing to fully dismantle the phone and break out the hot air gun and soldering iron.

            There is a happy medium, involving 20 minutes, a few screws (or clippy catches) and a micro JST connector, which would allow replacing of a dying battery easily, without requiring the design compromises of a "user replaceable" battery.

            Since this compromise is rare, and since it is difficult to assess before buying a phone, I've always ended up with phones with a replaceable battery (Moto Gs of various generations, a Wileyfox Swift, an old HTC etc).

            1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

              Re: "Apple is the only poster child for destructive repair monopolies"

              needing to fully dismantle the phone and break out the hot air gun and soldering iron

              The problem is form and function. The market wants phones to be thinner and lighter yet to be more powerful and have better battery life.

              The end result is a mass of tightly-packed components with little room for traditional screw-type fasteners (since they can come loose and then the phone falls apart).

          3. Cuddles Silver badge

            Re: "Apple is the only poster child for destructive repair monopolies"

            "I await the inevitable downvotes for daring to say something against Reg reader's strange obsession with going back in time to battery doors."

            The downvotes will probably be for failing to actually read the comment you're ranting against, which actually read "Apple is only the poster-child for destructive repair monopolies." - ie. Apple is often named as one of the worse offenders, but if far from the only one that engages in such behaviour. In other words, the exact opposite of what you apparently decided it said to the extent you actually changed it for your title instead of just copy and pasting.

          4. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

            Re: "Apple is the only poster child for destructive repair monopolies" @DougS

            "I await the inevitable downvotes for daring to say something against Reg reader's strange obsession with going back in time to battery doors"

            Well, in the 20 or so years, and six or seven phones I've had (I don't change them often, and many of them have been second-hand), I've never had a battery "door" come off. Most, if not all, required the entire back to come off, usually requiring incantations and dead chickens to do it smoothly. I admit that all my phones have lived (and four of them still live) in leather cases, and I rarely, if ever, drop a phone. So I've given you a down vote because I don't see why I should lose the convenience of swapping out batteries easily just because some people don't look after their phones.

          5. Alistair Silver badge
            Windows

            Re: "Apple is the only poster child for destructive repair monopolies"

            DougS

            "inevitable downvotes for daring to say something against Reg reader's strange obsession with going back in time to battery doors.

            "replaceable" does *not* require a "battery door". I'd be quite happy if dismantling the phone was a 4/6 microscrew option and required some mental oomph to get the battery out (such as the LG SWMBO has) rather than having to tear down the phone to basic parts, use a heat gun and have appropriate glue handy. Who said damn thing about doors?

          6. JohnFen Silver badge

            Re: "Apple is the only poster child for destructive repair monopolies"

            "How are you going to replace a bad wifi chip, or flash with too many bad sectors, when they're microsoldered onto a board with a lot of other stuff?"

            This isn't as difficult as people assume. It is a skill that takes a bit of practice, but it's easy enough that in many countries there are street vendors who will do it right there in front of you. So while it's not the sort of thing that your average user would do, it is the sort of thing that can be done economically by a small business in a strip mall, for example.

            I've made such repairs myself (on my bench, not on the street.)

      2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Hoorah !

        Unless it mandates a repairable design then it's all for naught.

        So socketted DIP chips for your next phone.

        1. JohnFen Silver badge

          Re: Hoorah !

          "Repairable design" does not mean it has to be socketed DIP chips. It means having access to the information that you need in order to repair the thing, the absence of mechanisms and software specifically intended to prevent repairs, and the ability to open the device up without destroying it.

        2. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

          Re: Hoorah !

          SMD boards are pretty easy to fix if they don't have any heat sensitive components that were soldered on by hand. Laptops may have some but cellphones are just too tiny for such work. Rework stations are small enough and inexpensive enough that, with a skilled user, they could show up at a mall phone repair stand. It's a programmable hotplate and small programmable hot air wand. The hotplate is set a few degrees below the solder's melting point and the air wand a bit above it. Any component under the hot air wand can be added and removed with tweezers. Maybe a bit of flux and solder paste is needed on the new parts. After that, it's booting the phone with the secret button pinch to put it into low-level firmware programming mode to restore any data missing on the new chips.

          Of course, phone makers can ruin this by using those RF shields that are both mechanically latched and soldered.

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Hoorah !

      "Am I missing something - or do we have a politician talking common sense here?"

      The fact that a bill is needed in the first place just tells me that politicians have been asleep at the wheel for too long to get into the situation in the first place. Where possible I try to avoid buying stuff for which I can't find a service manual.

      "Let's hope all other jurisdictions around the world introduce similar legislation,"

      Here in the UK it seems to be less of a problem than in the US other than for US imports like Apple and their ilk.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    From the article:

    though some of these, like a bill proposed in New York, have been defeated by tech industry lobbying.

    And exactly how do tech industry execs like Tim Cook have the nerve to make big public product launches whilst keeping a straight face with this kind of our-job-is-to-screw-every-cent-from-you attitude being publicly displayed by such lobbying?

    If this kind of law became commonplace, there is no reason why they couldn't turn upgrades, repairs, spares into a money-spinner. It's very clear that no one has any idea what the next mega feature should be, or why anyone would now buy a new phone when the existing one does everything anyway.

    So if selling new phones becomes increasingly difficult, perhaps selling spares or upgrades to existing users is the way to keep selling hardware. Want a new camera with better resolution? Why not just buy the module instead of buying a whole new phone?

    This might appeal to the high end enthusiast.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      And exactly how do tech industry execs like Tim Cook have the nerve to make big public product launches whilst keeping a straight face with this kind of our-job-is-to-screw-every-cent-from-you attitude being publicly displayed by such lobbying?

      Because that's what he's paid to do? Apple investors (the people who own the company) want him to make as much profit as possible. If he won't grow the profits, they'll find somebody else willing to try.

      Spares and repairs have always been an area where the original manufacturer tries to rip off customers. Not just in tech. Panasonic bread makers have replacement mixing pans that its often uneconomic to replace. Bosch hand blender spares are so expensive that it is often better to buy a complete new device. Branded car spares are often a rip off - especially if the badge on the car is Nissan.

      1. JohnFen Silver badge

        "Apple investors (the people who own the company) want him to make as much profit as possible."

        Sortof. Most shareholders (day-traders excepted) don't often want to see "as much profit as possible" if that profit comes at the cost of the health of the business in the future. What shareholders really want to see is the business growing and staying healthy, and tend to value growth over immediate profits.

        Generally, the notion that the CEO's job is to maximize profit above all else is not true. The reality is more complex than that.

  3. matchbx
    Facepalm

    Knock Knock Knock

    Hello... May I help you

    Man at door: Are you Susan Talamantes Eggman?

    Yes I am

    Hi, we're from Apple. Here's a suitcase full of money, please kill that bill.

    Oh, Thank you very much.

    1. Oengus

      Re: Knock Knock Knock

      Exactly what I was thinking.

      I am sure the lobbyists are circling with election campaign funds for those that oppose the bill.

      America where we have the best government that money can buy...

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Knock Knock Knock

        America where we have the best government that money can buy...

        Which, by it's very nature implies that all your[1] politicians are crooks - or at least corrupt.

        [1] Ours are too - just in a slightly more obscured way. No up-front money, just the prospect of nice non-exec directorships when they leave office.

        1. sisk Silver badge

          Re: Knock Knock Knock

          Which, by it's very nature implies that all your politicians are crooks - or at least corrupt.

          If you ever find a non-crooked, non-corrupt politician who has attained any level of power make sure you take a picture. They won't stay that way for long. Either the power will corrupt them, as it is wont to do, or they'll get knocked down by other politicians who play dirty.

    2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Knock Knock Knock

      Hi, we're from Apple. Here's a suitcase full of money, please kill that bill.

      Why? Apple can offer to repair the phone for a fee they like at one of their stores

      While blocking imports of all phones that don't have any instate approved repair facilities and parts suppliers as required by the bill

  4. Arty Effem

    Sounds fine, but:

    Anything in the legislation to prevent available spares from being prohibitively priced?

    1. Oengus

      Re: Sounds fine, but:

      I seem to remember reading that Henry Ford said something along the lines of:

      I will give everyone in the US a car on the condition that they come to me for parts and servicing.

      He knew where the money was to be made...

      1. Jim Mitchell

        Re: Sounds fine, but:

        This is how the automobile industry works. The profit on a new car sale is small and one time, the profit on a used car sale is larger and but one time, repair and maintenance is more profitable and recurring. Well, until the customer realizes that the dealer is probably trying to take advantage of them...

        1. sisk Silver badge

          Re: Sounds fine, but:

          ...repair and maintenance is more profitable and recurring

          Which is why any time I buy a new car I go out and buy a $75-$100 book to go with it. One thing I love about the automotive industry: it's not all that hard to get the parts at the same price that the mechanics pay, and it's not terribly difficult to learn enough to do all the basic repairs yourself. Anything too big for me to fix by myself over a weekend is probably enough of a problem to justify replacing the whole car anyway.

    2. DRTRlady

      Re: Sounds fine, but:

      Yes !! The bill includes a provision that pricing is to be Fair and Reasonable with a series of tests of how Fair and Reasonable is to be determined. This bit is copied exactly from the Automotive Right to Repair Agreement just taking effect now in Model Year 2018.

    3. tom dial Silver badge

      Re: Sounds fine, but:

      In practical terms, the only repair likely to be made, for nearly all owners, will be the battery. These should be generic enough that if the OEM prices them to high other manufacturer will compete.

      Shame on those pushing this law if they did not think of that and include language to head it off. On the other hand, the US Supreme Court in Impression v. Lexmark (581 U.S. 1523 (2017)), gives potential competitors some legal backing.

      1. sisk Silver badge

        Re: Sounds fine, but:

        In practical terms, the only repair likely to be made, for nearly all owners, will be the battery

        You're forgetting screens. These days batteries have gotten good enough that broken screens are more common than flat batteries.

  5. Snorlax Silver badge

    John Deere and Apple Make For Strange Bedfellows

    "Many of the leading states are agricultural hotbeds like Nebraska, Iowa, and Oklahoma, where farmers have been fighting against restrictive repair policies on the embedded hardware used in farm equipment."

    This would make a good article in its own right.

    Farmers are using cracked diagnostic software from Ukraine so they can fix their John Deeres.

    A senator in some state - can't remember which...maybe Nebraska? - proposed a right to repair bill focused on farm machinery. Apple turned up to some small-town meeting to lobby against the bill.

    1. NorthIowan

      Re: John Deere and Apple Make For Strange Bedfellows

      "Farmers are using cracked diagnostic software from Ukraine so they can fix their John Deeres."

      I don't know if they do that or not. But I remember the complaints were the new John Deeres and other high tech farm equipment would pop a need service notice and only the local brand dealer would be able to check that it was just an air filter or some such easy for farmer to replace item that he could have spares of to keep his operation moving. And when bad weather is due in a few hours a farmer gets cranky for any down time that might delay finishing planting or harvesting for a week or more.

      1. Jim Mitchell

        Re: John Deere and Apple Make For Strange Bedfellows

        Consolidation in the farm machinery dealer arena is also driving up prices for service in rural areas. Less competition if the same guy owns every authorized repair place in 50 miles.

        1. Snorlax Silver badge

          Re: John Deere and Apple Make For Strange Bedfellows

          @Jim Mitchell:"Consolidation in the farm machinery dealer arena is also driving up prices for service in rural areas. Less competition if the same guy owns every authorized repair place in 50 miles."

          That was the point made in one interview I read. The dealer consolidated all repair work to a central location, so when a piece of machinery broke you couldn't even get a local guy to come out. The choice was to pay a huge callout charge, or pay a huge amount to send the machinery to the repair center and back on a trailer.

          Who's got the time or money for that?

      2. DRTRlady

        Re: John Deere and Apple Make For Strange Bedfellows

        Farmers are using non-John Deere software is a fact. See this recent documentary by Motherboard for some insight into the reality of having a monopoly on repair. https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/pamkqn/watch-tractor-hacking-john-deere-right-to-repair-documentary

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: John Deere and Apple Make For Strange Bedfellows

      Being from California, one could argue that Stockton is our version of Iowa. (Bakersfield... definitely Oklahoma.)

    3. Alistair Silver badge
      Windows

      Re: John Deere and Apple Make For Strange Bedfellows

      oh look

      A Register article that might be interesting reading.

    4. sisk Silver badge

      Re: John Deere and Apple Make For Strange Bedfellows

      Speaking as someone who spent my teen-aged summers working on my grandpa's farm, spent a couple summers during my college years on another farm, then grew up and married a farm girl, I can't imagine any farmer I know buying a tractor that they couldn't repair themselves. Maybe a corporate farm could manage to have the professionals do all their repairs, but they generally hire their own mechanics for that. All the farmers I personally know are still running family owned farms. They'd go bankrupt in under 5 years if they couldn't do the work on their tractors themselves. And as much as those things cost they've got to get decades worth of work out of them to break even.

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: John Deere and Apple Make For Strange Bedfellows

        I can't imagine any farmer I know buying a tractor that they couldn't repair themselves

        That's why the major manufacturers don't want to sell tractors. They lease them, with restrictions including those against unauthorized repair work.

        For the US, at least, I understand there's been a fair bit of consolidation. CNH own both Case and New Holland. ARGO own McCormick and a bunch of other brands. AGCO own Challenger and Massey Ferguson. So

  6. goldcd

    "Super Cali makes a fix-it law come into focus"

    *standing ovation*

    1. Steve K Silver badge

      Re: "Super Cali makes a fix-it law come into focus"

      While you are clapping, I went to a Mary Poppins-themed restaurant last night.

      Super cauliflower cheese, but lobster quite atrocious

    2. Deryk Barker

      Re: "Super Cali makes a fix-it law come into focus"

      Well, um-tiddle-iddle-iddle, um-tiddle-eye

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This article is lacking walrus. Goo goo g'joob

  8. Keir Snelling
    Angel

    Hat doffed for the head and sub. Superb.

  9. steve 124

    Yawn...

    My 2 cents...

    Those of us with the ability to repair our own devices do so without this law.

    Those who don't have the ability, still won't after the law is passed.

    Parts are already available, at pretty cheap prices since they are all after market... oem parts are always crazy expensive.

    Let's face it, in 2 years, even if the phone is still running fine, the OS will be close to EOL and your options for apps are going to be pretty terrible. So the way these companies plan obsolesce is not just in the hardware but they make sure if the hardware does outlast your contract that the software will be discontinued to. Great example, I use hdhomerun to stream my cable to all my devices. My older tablets (which had perfectly good working hdhomerun apps when I bought them) after a factory reset (because of another issue) I can no longer download the version of that app for my tablet (because the OS is something like ICECREAMSANDWICH). I bought the app. I have it on all my other devices, but because they don't support it on the OS I have on the old tablets, they pulled the working copies from the store.

    Pass a law to keep them from doing that.

    1. DRTRlady

      Re: Yawn...

      Parts are only 1/5 of the repair problem. Without service documentation, you won't know what procedure to follow to locate the broken part. Without schematics you can't fix leaking capacitors on motherboards. Without firmware access, you can't update parts to communicate with the device. Without diagnostics you cannot confirm your repair is complete.

      Good luck fixing your digital world without a heck of a lot of information that manufacturers no longer share.

    2. JLV Silver badge

      Re: Yawn...

      I can only contrast my 2011 MBP, w aftermarket RAM, SSD, replaced keyboard and battery, with a 2016 version where everything is glued/soldered.

      Price aside, the former makes me want to re-buy Apple. The latter makes me evaluate which Linux laptop vendors offer both build/driver quality and upgradeability.

    3. Snorlax Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Yawn...

      @steve 124:"Those of us with the ability to repair our own devices do so without this law.

      Those who don't have the ability, still won't after the law is passed."

      Perhaps you're not familiar with the concept of a service?

      That's when you pay a person or company to do a job for you if you lack the time or ability - fixing a phone for instance...

    4. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: Yawn...

      "Let's face it, in 2 years, even if the phone is still running fine, the OS will be close to EOL and your options for apps are going to be pretty terrible."

      That's not been my experience. My current phone is about 5 years old, and my options for apps aren't limited by that.

  10. pɹɐʍoɔ snoɯʎuouɐ
    Devil

    when hell freezes over....

    just imagine, A group of companies that make a massive profit from selling over priced products, that maintain sales by building in obsolescence and making repairs uneconomical by limiting accessibility to spare parts. The profits of these companies have available funds larger than the US government.

    Do you think that this group of companies will allow a government to pass a law that will fundamentally change the way they operate? Not a cats chance in hell...

    Apple for instance, actively make sure that its impossible or impractical for 3rd party repairs. Once chip in particular in the macbooks appears to be placed in the perfect position so that the slightest bit of water damage will find its way to. The chip is a off the shelf programmable device, but any attempt to read the code on it destroys the device. Third party repair shops only way to get replacement parts is by buying damaged boards from sellers in china who appear to get access to boards that don't pass quality control and do not work. This puts the price of a replacement chip from less than $5 to around $50.

    apple charge $750 for a repair on a computer that a 3rd party repair shop will do for $300, Apples excuse for the charge is that they just replace the entire logic board as its impossible to repair which is not true) most of the time this means that the macbook will go in the bin and they will buy a new one.

    If this bill was to pass, then apple would be obliged to make replacement parts available. does this mean they will supply the shops the means to program an off the shelf part? does it mean they will supply the chips pre-programmed? It would be a big fat NO for both. They would make all new computers impossible to dismantle or make it so that removing a chip would destroy the main board in some way. They would make it impossible to do repairs instead of just saying its impossible.

    But lets face it, Apple and pals would get this tied up in the courts for eternity. It would never make it into law.

  11. Allan George Dyer Silver badge
    Joke

    How far does this go?

    Can I get my microscope and eye-dropper of acid out to fix Meltdown and Spectre on my Intel CPUs?

  12. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Two comments...

    Well 3.

    1) Want better repairability? Don 't buy Apple. I mean, I saw a complaint a while ago about "phone vendors" not using standardized connectors, they do except for Apple.

    2) That said I'm all for this rule. I do realize in actuality some other vendors phones are getting somewhat less repairable as new models come out.

    3) The farm equipment situation? I heard it was pretty dire -- fuel injection computers locked down like a slot machine, no documentation on even what the "check engine light" codes mean, I'm pretty sure they were even doing ink cartridge style crap so the tractor would not even let you install for instance aftermarket fuel injectors if the originals went out.

    1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: Two comments...

      Don 't buy Apple

      Or Samsung. Or Asus.. (hint: they all do it because they are all operating under the same set of end-user criteria..

  13. Ole Juul

    I hope this is widely applicable.

    Specifically, I hope it also applies to software and operating systems.

    1. Frank Thynne

      Re: I hope this is widely applicable.

      I wish that were always possible! Unfortunately, most software contains trade secrets that the developers justifiably want to protect. The problem is that some developers of proprietary software make feeble efforts to maintain and fix their products.

      There is a solution: Open Source software. It is repairable by any competent person and usually well documented. Competence is the issue here, but the developers usually record errors and fix them, and in many cases the reports of errors and fixes are available to anyone who needs them.

  14. Johnny Canuck

    Just so you know

    There are already people who repair iPhones and Macbooks. They have schematics and do microsoldering/desoldering. I find their videos interesting, though Mr. Rossmann can be a bit grating.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VNKNjy3CoZ4

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KV_WfuIlAmo

  15. whitepines Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Good step forward. Hope they don't forget unlocking the firmware and/or software too, so that you can reprogram (repair) your IoT tat after the central server goes down or is changed to a subscription model...

    1. JohnFen Silver badge

      That would be good. Even better would be to discourage anyone from purchasing devices that require an external service to remain functional. Only tears lie at the end of that road.

  16. jcbottorff

    Disclosure of lifetime costs needed but many pricing options valid

    i don't have a problem with a company designing a product to be easily repaired or designing it to be impossible to repair, each design point has it's advantages. What I do think should happen is device repair-ability and costs before purchase should be DISCLOSED.

    Take the John Deer tractor case. If JD wants to sell tractors at a lower initial price, because they believe they will make 30% of the initial sale price on repairs over the lifetime, I'm ok with that, provided the purchaser understands the initial price is discounted based on expected repair revenue. This is exactly the inkjet printer model. The initial prices of many consumer inkjet printers is less than the real cost, because they expect to make money on the ink cartridges. You also can buy commercial inkjet printers, for rather higher initial prices, that use huge bottles of ink. Epson for example seems to sell with both sales models. Both ways are valid, but you should understand the trade-off.

    I don't think manufacturers should be forced to sell at disposable or manufacturer only repair initial prices, and then be required to make it cheap or easy for later repair. I'm personally a fan of DIY hardware repair/tinkering, but I also do engineering for a living, and know a lot of markets are initial selling price sensitive, often more than total cost of ownership sensitive, so shifting some of the revenue later in the life-cycle allows more sales. If you buy a $200K tractor for $100K, don't grumble that you're spending $5K/year on repairs for the next 20 years. I could also see dual prices on tractors, pay $200K now and have free access to repair data and guarantees on part availability and price, or pay $100K now and depend on manufacturer service forever, perhaps with a no-lemon guarantee/lifetime repair price cap.

    Another one of the the tractor arguments is perhaps tractors have just become TOO feature filled, and if they stripped off the stuff that was not essential it might only cost $100K instead of $200K. Sophisticated farmers argue that extra $100K improves their productivity more than $100K over the life of the tractor, and other farmers, who perhaps are not willing to adapt their process don't find the extra features. This raises the question: should we have "extravagant feature" laws. i did some calculations an pure electric tractor, and it's initial price would need to be like 5x as high, in return though your energy costs might be half as much as diesel fuel. If you could keep that tractor busy 24x7, like if it were self driving, you would have a tractor that had a lower cost per unit of work done. This is exactly the electric self-driving Uber/Lyft model. Often a more expensive machine has reduced operating costs.

    As far as I can tell, many modern $250 phones do most things almost as well as $1000 phones, so the extra $750 you spend is just a status symbol thing. Phones are not things you can share, so a $1000 phone does not cost less to operate than a $250 phone. The price dynamics of tractors and phones seem quite different, so am not so sure the same strategy and laws should apply.

    Another option in this whole problem would just to not sell things, only lease them. So you could not buy a $200K tractor, you could only lease a $1000/month tractor, that included all maintenance+parts, and a service up-time guarantee, essentially TaaS (Tractor as a Service). If you did this, manufacturers would be very motivated to minimize lifetime maintenance costs and maximize up-time.

    1. whitepines Silver badge

      Re: Disclosure of lifetime costs needed but many pricing options valid

      While I completely understand the market concerns, having somewhat similar experience, I still say this is a self-perpetuation cycle that is bad overall for society. As people get used to a below-market "cost" for "owning" something they become unwilling to pay someone else for the true market cost of a similar, outright owned item. Then they whine and turn to piracy to get around the bad part of the deal they made.

      I'd say that if the JD model is allowed, it should be that for the life of the equipment JD will come out and service your equipment within <X> hours, or have to buy back the equipment at a possibly pro-rated price. Oh, and you get 1 year notice before repairs are allowed to stop, or you get to pay all affected farmers for all damages (lost crops, etc.).

      Remember, the only reason they're doing this is to get around the standard protections given to renters. There's literally no other reason not to just go straight to a leasing model, except that they might actually have to fix their own stuff and someone might start competing with "own your own tractor!"

  17. handleoclast

    What a great idea!

    This is a fantastic idea. For gadget manufacturers.

    Such a great idea that I wonder if the gadget manufacturers have bunged the politicians some money on the quiet.

    Don't believe me?

    Dunning-Kruger.

    The morons who think they can carry out the repair will be the ones who will totally fuck it up. Example: a neighbour wanted to put up curtain wire for some net curtains. A friend of hers was helping her. But they had problems. They couldn't get the eyelets (the ones that screw into the wire) to mate. Which they wanted to do so they could screw one into the window frame to mate with the one screwed into the wire. I explained they need cup hooks (better than screws because you don't need a screwdriver to take the net off for washing). I gave them a couple of cup hooks. Which the neighbour's moronic friend tried to hammer into the frame. Ruining the hooks completely.

    These are the kind of people who will be absolutely certain they can carry out the repair. And I can be absolutely certain they'll fuck it up. At which point they'll have no option but to buy a new gadget.

    So which would a manufacturer prefer? People taking their gadgets for repair, an activity which usually has low profit margins despite high prices? Or people accidentally destroying their gadget and having to buy a new one?

    Of course, the manufacturers can't actively encourage this. It would look very bad. But if they bribe a few politicians to "force" it on them, they're laughing all the way to the bank.

  18. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    Liability issues

    I recently replaced the battery pack buried deep within my Surface RT 2. Successfully!!

    It was a frightening combination of Watch Repair and Bomb Disposal. It was many times more difficult than the iPhone 3GS I did years ago. More dangerous too, huge cells glued in.

    "...what I do have are a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a very long career. ..."

    If such a repair had been attempted by anyone without the complete set of skills and knowledge, they'd have had a flaming lithium battery burning holes in their dining room table.

    Such 'Combination Watch Repair / Bomb Disposal' battery replacements shouldn't be widely encouraged.

    It'd be nice if they were designed like Cordless Telephones. One minute job.

  19. Barry Rueger

    Not just phones and tractors

    Breville kettle lasted about a year when the connector between the kettle and base failed. Replaced under warranty with new kettle, with beefier connector.

    Two year later, that one failed. It's actually repairable but Breville won't sell me the part.

    I like Breville, and their support people are very nice, but 40% off a new kettle (retail c $120) is not the same as $5 + shipping for a 20 minute repair.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Not just phones and tractors

      If you were Breville what level of qualification would you require for somebody fixing a kettle so that their heirs wouldn't sue you?

      I have an experimental physics PhD and built detectors for CERN - but I'm not allowed to replace an electrical outlet.

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