Saturday, June 22, 2024

EU Right to Repair Rules Force Companies to Fix Out-of-Warranty Devices


The European Commission has waved through new ‘right to repair’ legislation that aims to make it easier for consumers to get their broken devices fixed, even if products are out of warranty.

The EU already requires companies to offer a two-year minimum warranty on common household appliances and electronics, such as smartphones, TVs, washing machines, and vacuum cleaners, but the new rules impose additional requirements.

According to the legislation, if a consumer chooses to have their device repaired under warranty, the warranty must be extended by a year. Consumers may also borrow a device while theirs is being repaired, and if it cannot be fixed, they have the right to opt for a refurbished unit as an alternative.

When a product’s warranty expires, companies are still required to repair devices at a “reasonable price,” so as not to intentionally discourage consumers from repairing them. Manufacturers will also be prohibited from using “hardware or software related barriers to repair,” including preventing the use of second-hand, compatible, and 3D-printed spare parts by independent repairers as long as they conform to EU laws.

Additionally, manufacturers will be unable to refuse to repair a product solely for economic reasons or because it was previously repaired by someone else. Companies will be required to publish information about their repair services, including indicative prices of the most common repairs.

“Consumers’ right to repair products will now become a reality,” said European Parliament rapporteur René Repasi. “It will be easier and cheaper to repair instead of purchase new, expensive items. This is a significant achievement for Parliament and its commitment to empower consumers in the fight against climate change. The new legislation extends legal guarantees by 12 months when opting for repair, gives better access to spare parts and ensures easier, cheaper and faster repair.”

The legislation will come into effect after formal approval by the Council, with the directive set to activate 20 days after its publication.

Europe’s Right to Repair group welcomed the legislation, calling it “a step in the right direction,” but said “the scope of products covered remains very narrow,” and would introduce loopholes. The coalition noted that the rules only cover consumer products, and not anything purchased by businesses or industrial goods. It also criticized the lack of guidance on what constituted a “reasonable price” for spare parts.

Apple is likely to be impacted by the legislation, especially with regard to its controversial “parts pairing” requirement that prevents third-party replacements of certain device components. Currently, if an iPhone part is replaced with a like-for-like replacement by an unofficial third party, it may not be recognised by the iPhone’s system software. The wording of the new EU rules suggests this will no longer be allowed.

Meanwhile in the U.S., more than two-dozen states are working on individual right-to-repair legislation. California’s Right to Repair Act will become law this July, requiring manufacturers to make repair materials available for all electronics and appliances that cost $50 or more.Tags: European Union, European Commission, Right to Repair
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