Mr Fix-It: How Repairability Works

December 14, 2020 by Ben M.


Repairing your devices

In late 2020, the European parliament passed a new policy that requires all devices to feature mandatory labeling telling customers how long their device is expected to last, and how easy it is to repair when it breaks down. The first country adopting these new rules is France, who will be rolling out the labels in January to devices such as smartphones, laptops and other electronics, with a Label giving a score out of ten.

There are obvious benefits to us, as consumers. We’ve had a look at how this system works and how it helps us to make choices when it comes to what we buy!

Broken down

We all rely on our phones these days, whether its for shopping, communication or entertainment. So when our phones stop working, we’re left with one of two choices: upgrade, or try and get it repaired.

And trying to get a phone repaired is usually more complicated than we thought. For things like a screen break, or dying battery, the fix should be simple but – as we’ve seen time and time again – usually manufacturers make it anything but. Apple, for example, has come under fire for deliberately making it difficult for third parties to repair their phone, and both they and Samsung , their nearest competitor have been fined by the Italian courts for deliberately slowing their older phone models down. With the cost of mobile repair in the UK reaching a staggering £5bn in the last two years, its easy to see where the impetus for this system has come from.

And things like this are what this new system is designed to fight against. By testing and analysing products, an independent body will be able to assign it a score out of ten for how easily repaired it is, and give it an expected lifespan. Going with Apple again, a current apple device has a predicted lifespan of just over 4 years. The difference is, that under these laws – and if they prove to be successful, other countries will surely follow suit – those lifespans will have to be adhered to, and any companies who deliberately lower the lifespan of their devices in order to sell new ones – as apple and Samsung have been accused of, will face strict punishments.

Past its best

The easiest way to think of these stickers is to describe them as sell-by dates for electronics. While it is unlikely those dates will be looked at as a guarantee, they will offer customers like us a useful guide to what we can expect from our devices and utilities. If a washing machine breaks down two years into its expected six-year lifespan, for example, it would be reasonable to expect that it can be repaired, rather than having to buy a new machine.  This will also put added pressure on resellers to fulfil warranty commitment.

With these standards in place, you’ll be able to buy electronics with confidence, safe in the knowledge that your purchase is protected by more than just what a company offers you.  We hope to see these standards implemented and pioneered by one of the countries in the Middle East where transparency on product after-sales is lacking.  A good place to start would be the electronics sector, which will also help authorized dealers minimize losses to parallel market imports that mostly do not come with warranty or limited-warranty at best.  I believe Dubai can implement this alongside side



Main Image provided by Shutterstock

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