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    2.3 million Pennsylvanians accessed popular repair website to fix their stuff

    submitted by PennPIRG

    Pennsylvanians’ thriftiness is alive and well.

    PennPIRG (Pennsylvania Public Interest Research Group) Education Fund’s recently published report, “What Are Pennsylvanians Trying to Fix?”, found 2.3 million unique visitors looked up repairs on the popular repair website iFixit.com, but some big obstacles stand in their way.

    “Pennsylvanians want to fix their stuff. After all, repairing an old device instead of buying a new one cuts waste and saves us money,” noted Emma Horst-Martz, PennPIRG Campaign Associate. “But too often, consumers are stymied in their repair efforts because most of the top manufacturers won’t provide access to spare parts, repair software, or service diagrams.”

    The report’s top findings include:

    • The most popular products people researched on iFixit were cell phones, laptops, automobiles and gaming consoles.
    • Six of the 10 most popular manufacturers do not provide access to spare parts or technical service information.
    • The most common searches were for battery and screen replacements, two parts that manufacturers have made increasingly difficult to access. 

    The report highlights the growing call for “Right to Repair” reforms, which would require manufacturers to make parts and service information available to consumers.

    With the increasing complexity of technological design, manufacturers have designed products that are meant to die within a few years and are very difficult to repair.

    Many original equipment manufacturers (OEM) are monopolizing repair, driving up the cost for consumers and limiting the work independent repair shops can do for their customers. 

    “iFixit.com has many guides for problems that manufacturers have told people are unfixable, and advised them that they need to replace the device. For example, you can easily change the battery in an iPhone yourself,” explained iFixit’s co-founder, Kyle Wiens. “And while we can provide spare parts for that repair, sometimes we just can’t get the parts; only the manufacturer has access to what we need to fix the device.”

    “Many customers still don’t know they can fix their broken or damaged devices,” says Mac Frederick, Founder and CEO of Phone Repair Philly. “By default, a lot of them go directly to the manufacturer or local retailer where the device was purchased. If they have insurance, which is overpriced and oversold, it can still cost more than repairing device. It seems like corporate greed has taken place over doing what’s best for the customer. Yet, here we are continuing to buy from these manufacturers because we’re addicted to their products. If we instead focus on consumer protections by allowing third party repairs and publicizing manufacturer information, not only will it provide for a better overall customer experience, it could help improve the entire economy.” 

    The solution is to require original equipment manufacturers to sell replacement parts and specialized tools at fair market price and make repair manuals available to consumers. 

    PennPIRG Education Fund is an independent, non-partisan group that works for consumers and the public interest.

    Through research, public education and outreach, they serve as counterweights to the influence of powerful special interests that threaten our health, safety or well-being. 

    The full PennPIRG report can be found at https://pennpirg.org/reports/pap/what-are-pennsylvanians-fixing.