Lee Maxwell headshot

Lee Maxwell
“What is the right-to-repair movement?”
Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020
6:45PM - 8:45PM in
via Zoom virtual meeting.


Back in the day [pretty much any time before the turn of the century], these truths were self-evident:

Flash-forward to the past decade and you will find that more and more manufacturers, especially products containing computing hardware and software, have been quietly restricting the ability of anyone other than employees or franchisees of those manufactures to repairs these products. They are doing this to increase their income at the expense of consumers [something makers are reluctant to admit].

The extent of the erosion of the rights of owners of electronic devices, and the fight to restore those rights, will be the topic of a live presentation by me, Lee Maxwell, at the September BCUG General Meeting, starting at 6:45 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 24, via Zoom meeting.

One of the pioneers of this change is Apple Inc. For years now, anyone who’s owned an Apple product, especially an iPhone or iPad, has learned that the only place that Apple wants you to get it repaired is through the Genius Bar in an Apple Store.

Apple’s repair strategy is fix any product that remains under warranty, in order to keep you a happy customer. However, if your Apple device is out of warranty, a Genius often will tell you it cannot be repaired without replacing most of the guts of the device, especially if there is any sign of contact with liquid, and be “encouraged” into buying a new one. This makes sense if you “follow the money”; Apple makes more selling a new product than repairing an older one.

However, Apple also has also been aggressively restricting the ability of owners, independent repair shops, and even its own repair facilities and authorized repair shops from fixing Apple products, especially because consumers and independent shops can make repairs at a far cheaper cost than Apple. That’s because repair shops will fix only defective parts of a device component, while Apple just replaces the entire component, again at a higher cost to the consumer.

Apple isn’t the only company with these policies:

A coalition of independent repair shops, consumer advocates and others have joined together to oppose this growing trend. Led by the Digital Right to Repair Coalition, these include independent repair shops, vendors of repair parts and equipment, consumer advocates and citizens.

In their statement of principles, the coalition argues that manufactures should provide to consumers and repairers the following:

For more information on the effort to achieve right to repair, including how manufacturers respond and the status of legislation supporting the right to repair in New Jersey, please join the BCUG General Meeting Zoom event to find out more.

About Lee Maxwell

I am a self-employed computer consultant and troubleshooter who also teaches computer courses part-time. I also have edited the BCUG newsletter, BCUG Bytes, for the last 16+ years, and co-lead two BCUG workshops, MacWaves and the Linux User Group.