Lawmakers in Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, and New York are preparing bills aimed at ending Apple and other manufacturers’ monopoly of the electronic repair market. If passed, the legislation will force manufacturers to sell replacement parts to consumers and independent repair shops in addition to making public their diagnostic and repair manuals.
A number of electronic manufacturers have an “authorized repair” policy which requires their items to be repaired exclusively by the manufacturers themselves. Apple, for instance, has never authorized an independent contractor to repair their iPhones. The company says that if your device breaks, you should visit your nearest iPhone dealer for diagnosis and repair.
This monopolistic approach has left independent repair shops in limbo. What do they do if a consumer brings them an iPhone and they feel they can repair it? Of course, most will attempt to make the repairs, against Apple’s wishes. Getting replacement parts is the other challenge. Since Apple doesn’t release replacement parts for iPhones, these unauthorized repair shops are often forced to salvage parts from recycled devices or head to the Chinese grey market in search of these parts, a move that can be counterproductive considering that most grey market products are counterfeit.
And it’s not just iPhones. Some manufacturers of dishwashers, cameras, refrigerators, tractors, servers, and cameras, among others, have the same “authorized repair” policy.
Legislators in the five states have now moved to stop the trend saying that it is backward and costly in the long run.
“This authorized repair approach results in inflated, high repair prices and a high overturn of electronic products” introducers of the New York bill wrote. “It has already caused a large amount of electronic waste created when device owners can’t afford the repair cost of the broken electronic.”
The legislators also said that the stance was crippling the electronic repair sector, stressing that most repair shop businesses are very small and should be supported at every opportunity.
“They are people at the grassroots. Most of these businesses are very small and it isn’t hard to tell,” executive director of the Group Gay Gordon-Byrne said. “We have to support them.”
Other than the five, Wyoming is another state that has introduced a similar bill targeting tractor and other farm equipment manufacturers.
The legislators hope to see the bill passed in at least one state and have recently focused most of their energy on New York.