The right to repair is best described as any law that guarantees a consumer the right to repair their own electronics or vehicles with the needed tools. But smartphone behemoth Apple would rather repair your iPhone or other Apple devices at one of their own shops rather than let you do it yourself, which is why the company is currently at war with advocates of the familiar policy. Apple recently lobbied – successfully – to overcome one such bill in Canada a few months back.
It’s difficult to argue against consumers’ right to repair a purchased item themselves, but what should legislators do when manufacturers of luxury items – like the iPhone – refuse to make the tools necessary to complete those repairs available to the consumer? That’s the question lawyers are asking: does the government have the right to force a company to sell those tools? Or is there a reasonable compromise to be made within the confines of existing law?
Apple’s answer has always been simple: Relax, while you’re worrying about the law, we’ll expand our network of shops so you can always find us when you need a quick repair.
That’s why Apple recently constructed an “Independent Repair Provider Program” for companies instead of consumers. Companies who would like to offer owners of Apple products (whose products’ warranties have already expired) repair services would be allowed to purchase the required tools and parts needed to make those repairs. But the consumer still isn’t given the right to repair by the new program.
Apple could run into legal obstacles soon, because individual states are ramping up their own right to repair laws. Earlier this year, California became the twentieth state to introduce one.
A company you may have heard about, iFixit, made a report on the new law: “Last year’s bill was proposed to California law at large, while this year’s bill is an amendment to California’s effective Lemon Law, a.k.a the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act.”
The report continues, “Unique to the state of California, this law requires companies to provide a repair option. It’s been effective at making sure that you can get your six-year-old MacBook Pro fixed by Apple in California-a service that Apple refuses to perform across the border in Arizona. But manufacturers found a loophole in the law allowing them to monopolize repair rather than providing parts to the repair provider of the consumer’s choice. This bill closes that loophole.”
That’s why the right to repair laws are being fought for by consumers, manufacturers, and even lawyers: it’s not unusual to find a lemon law attorney who has considered a case seemingly unconnected with the practice area.
How this battle will end for Apple is anyone’s guess.