Right to repair hero
Opinion
16 July 2021

Why the Right to Repair is big news

And why you should care.

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Paul R.
15 Sep 2021
Repairable as a Marketing tool.

Recently my Breville coffee grinder that I have owned for over 5 years decided to stop working due to the wearing an a small plastic cog. After some research I discovered that Breville do not provide any parts for repair. Had I known this I would not have purchased it. However I Have found another brand, Baratza that provide spare parts and directions to encourage customers to repair their own machines. So guess what I'm going to replace my coffee grinder with? Maybe when Consumer make recommendations on products they might like to have a repairable rating in their review.

Peter M.
29 Jul 2021
Foam mattress

Memory foam is great BUT
IT doesn't know when to stop remembering. The center of my mattress is at least 5cm lower than the ends. 3 years old. You should check mattresses?

Tobias T.
25 Jul 2021
Apple Macs

I have two Apple MacBook Pro laptops from 2010 and 2012. They can be opened and upgraded. I've removed the obsolete optical drives and installed SSD drives and overclocked the RAM to 16GB, which was possible on these models. These two laptops are quicker and more stable than my new 2019 MacBook Pro laptop. The keyboards are better, the new model is prone to giving me RSI while the old one is much more ergonomic. The only problem is that Apple no longer supports older models for OS upgrades, regardless of whether they have the computing power needed...
This definitely seems to be designed obsolescence via the choice to refuse to support the product any more. Is this not like a product manufacturer refusing to stock parts for repair for the life of the product?

Paul S.
26 Jul 2021
A 2010 Apple Macbook pro upgrade here too

Hi Tobias,

I also upgraded my 2010 Macbook Pro with more RAM and an SSD. I had to look it up, but it was 2017 and I wrote about it here: https://www.consumer.org.nz/articles/laptop-upgrade-and-repair-our-staff-s-experiences.

That Macbook is still going. It's had no MacOS updates for a while now and it feels like it is slowing down, especially running Apple Music and Photos (anything that needs more processing power and/or accesses cloud storage). But it's hanging in there.

Paul
Consumer NZ

Lukas T.
03 Sep 2021
Typing this on a 2011 MBP

Added RAM and 512GB SSD, works great for daily task. The only problem is that it gets hot under look. My guess is that the heat pipes are dirty... good luck finding a replacement for those.

I recently built a PC tower for heavy media workloads because I couldn't justify paying twice as much for an iMac Pro that's less powerful/repairable/upgradable.

Not sure what I'd do if I had to replace the laptop. Seems like nothing currently available even comes close to the build quality of the old unibody MacBook Pros.

Stephen D.
25 Jul 2021
Replacement parts

The other thing that needs to be looked more closely at is how parts are packaged.. I have a dometic 3way fridge, in which a small plastic part had broken.. it was already a flimsy design anyway.. and its surprising that part had lasted as long as it had.. but the annoying thing was that the only way you could get that broken part, was to buy a complete latch replacement.. but the rest of the latch was metal and would have lasted a hundred years.. so absolutely no need to replace that art EVER.. And it was also not a latch that would have any use other than in that particular fridge..

Just a money grab.. and for a poorly designed part in the first place..

These things should also be regulated.

Stephen

Paul S.
26 Jul 2021
Agree re: parts getting packaged as assemblies

Hi Stephen,

I think this is a result of cost saving in the design and a decision to prioritise that over repair. It's often cheaper to glue and weld parts in place than make them replaceable. You see examples like your fridge door latch on most appliances.

Recently, a few European consumer organisations assessed washing machine construction and found all but one had a sealed drum assembly - which meant drum bearings were impossible to replace and a failure of a cheap bearing needed a very expensive repair. We're have a similar project underway now.

Removing fasteners and using glue is the default assembly technique of tech device manufacture. It's rare to see a phone, for example, with a screen and battery (the most common parts to break or fail) that are easy to replace.

I agree that it's not just having parts available, we need the parts that most commonly fail to be easy to replace and available for a reasonable price. Otherwise it'll be too easy to claim repairability when it's not practical or economic to make the repair.

Paul
Consumer NZ

Graeme W.
18 Jul 2021
Ryobi again

Several years ago I bought a Ryobi Router from a local retailer. It had an 8mm chuck… an unusual size, but it had a tiny adapter collet (sleeve) to take the much more common ¼ inch (6.35mm) bits. I lost the collet in long grass when changing bits. Searched for ages. No luck. The local supplier said they couldn't help as Bunnings were now the sole NZ agent. Bunnings said it was a discontinued item so parts were no longer available. Tried many sources (in NZ and online) for a collet but no luck so had to trash a perfectly good router. [Note I have a big set of ¼ inch bits that cost almost as much as a new router… this influenced my decision. Needless to say I did not get a Ryobi!]

Debbie J.
18 Jul 2021
Ryobi repair

Glad that your article pointed out Ryobi’s statement on their website. I always thought it was a good brand, but won’t be buying if their products can’t be repaired!

Ralph C.
19 Jul 2021
But is a warning on website that parts / repair are unavailable sufficient?

Surely a warning has to be expressly brought to the consumer's attention at the time of sale rather than merely sitting on a website?

Paul S.
26 Jul 2021
We're checking about that warning

Hi Ralph,

It's a good point. The legislation requires a consumer to be informed prior to completing the purchase. Technically the website statement is available to all consumers, so it meets the requirement. Though you could argue it's not really the spirit of the law!

We asked Ryobi for a response to our original article and didn't get one. I've asked again for them to confirm they are meeting the legislation requirements.

This looks like a really grey CGA area. We know that many importers of small appliances and tech devices have few spare parts available and limited repair capability. I think they have relied on consumers accepting that replacement or refund is a better option all round. We are seeing that changing and it'll be really interesting to see how they respond. Some will embrace the change for sure, while others won't.

Paul
Consumer NZ

chris m.
17 Jul 2021
Manuals for you to use

A handy resource for general use and possbily, repairs. https://www.nodevice.com/service-manuals/

Alice
17 Jul 2021
Repairs

Last month the clothes iron got accidentally knocked off the board and wouldn't go. It was quite a mission opening the sealed unit up but once I had done so all that needed fixing was a wire that had come off its connection. Popped it back on again, glued the iron up and all is back to normal. Anyone else would have dropped it into the bin.

A couple of years ago the fuse in the Kenwood Chef mixer blew - popped in a new one and off she goes again. Same with the Kenwood mincer. It's a big help if you are a handy person with a limited electrical ticket. Just wish I could replace the battery in an otherwise perfectly functioning older iPhone.

Kevin H.
23 Jul 2021
You can get the iPhone repaired

If you are interested, you can get a replacement battery for most i-Phones. If you are interested give me a ring on 021 587 801.
Replacement battery for an iPhone 6s cost me around $60.

Paul S.
26 Jul 2021
iPhone batteries

I agree. I've recently replaced batteries on an old iPhone SE and an iPhone 7. The local device repair store did each of them for under $80 in a couple of hours.

Paul
Consumer NZ

Peter H.
17 Jul 2021
Parts price matters

It's not enough to force manufacturers to make parts available, the prices must be reasonable, or they will simply make them too high.

Case in point: many years ago we had the circuit board in a Panasonic laser printer fail, due to an incorrectly wired power point (in a hospital, ouch!). A new board was available, but cost more than a new printer.

Paul S.
26 Jul 2021
Re: parts prices

Hi Peter,

Great point. We're seeing calls for right to repair legislation including the requirement for parts to be available at a reasonable price. That's essential to make this more than a box-ticking exercise for manufacturers.

The CGA legislation already requires problems to be fixed (refund, replace or repair) in a reasonable time. When it comes extending it to spare parts, I think ensuring a reasonable price and a reasonable level of availability are important clauses to include.

Paul
Consumer NZ

Lyn R.
17 Jul 2021
Cord replacements

Nobody out there in our city to do simple repairs meeting electrical compliance. I have an iron with a cord which has frayed down to the wires, nothing wrong with the iron and it's a good brand. I don't want to throw it in the landfill. Maybe I should replace the cord myself?

Kay R.
17 Jul 2021
My prized Kenwood Chef

A couple of years ago my old 1975 Kenwood Chef cake mixer started haemorrhaging oil. I was very distressed about this as the new ones are nowhere near as robust as this solid machine.
My husband took it to Sontag Electric in Dunedin and had to pay about $35 to get it checked and see if it could be repaired. They we able to repair it at a cost of $130 (it only cost $75 when bought new) but I didn’t mind at all. At least I have my quality machine back and nothing (except maybe the broken part) sent to landfill.
I’m all for repairing stuff especially good high quality items we used to get...not sure the parts are available now though 😐

Peter J.
17 Jul 2021
Example of a repairable item

The Philips K9 colour tv receiver of the 1970's was designed so that it could be repaired even though in service it proved to be very reliable. It consisted of a series of plug in modules, (these were also repairable) and an extensive service manual with fault tracing procedure's. These days even opening an item to inspect it interior is a major task with one way plastic clips holding it together. Fast assembly on the production line though.
Peter

Paul R.
17 Jul 2021
Oh no..a conspiracy.

It must have occurred to manufacturers that although there was some good to making products that lasted, their profitability suffered as it took too long for a customer to come back to the market to purchase another. More could be made from turning out products that had a mediocre lifespan. There are large companies that have been built on that foundation. It didn't matter if a customer chose a different brand as they would win a buyer from the opposition. The only thing sustainable were the companies themselves. I can see much hand-wringing in boardrooms to come.

Paul S.
26 Jul 2021
Possibly an accurate explanation of how we go here.

Thanks Paul - you summed up the situation neatly (at least my personal cynicism about how we got here). When the business goal is to maximise profits for shareholders, all desire to do good becomes secondary. That is, unless doing good directly maximises those profits!

I also think it's also going to need us (consumers) to accept that most appliances and devices have become too cheap. If we want stuff that lasts, we need to look at ourselves and decide what's important - what's the true cost of those cheap appliances?

Paul
Consumer NZ