Slash Boxes

SoylentNews is people

Submission Preview

Link to Story

FTC Warns PC Manufacturers That Consumers Have The Right To Repair

Accepted submission by Arthur T Knackerbracket at 2024-07-04 15:52:22
Digital Liberty

--- --- --- --- Entire Story Below - Must Be Edited --- --- --- --- --- --- ---

Arthur T Knackerbracket has processed the following story []:

The right to repair movement may be gaining traction [], with several states passing laws that force companies to improve the repairability of their products, but a trio of letters the Federal Trade Commission just sent to firms that market and sell gaming PCs, graphics chips, motherboards, and other accessories show that resistance by manufacturers is as strong as ever.

The Federal Trade Commission staff has sent letters [] to ASRock, Zotac, and Gigabyte warning that their warranty practices may be violating consumers' right to repair products they have purchased. Namely, the commission singled out the use of stickers containing "warranty void if removed" or similar language as illegal. These are usually placed on products in such a way that makes it difficult for consumers to perform routine maintenance and repairs on their products, the FTC said.

"These warning letters put companies on notice that restricting consumers' right to repair violates the law," said Samuel Levine, Director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection. "The commission will continue our efforts to protect consumers' right to repair and independent dealers' right to compete."

The letters told the manufacturers to change their warranties and review customer support practices.

Illegal warranties are just the tip of the problem, consumer advocates say, as manufacturers try all sorts of tactics to control the repair process – and these tactics are working. Americans waste $40 billion each year from not being able to repair products, according to a report [] by the US PIRG, a public-interest research group. That comes to about $330 per household annually.

"It's getting harder for people to buy things that are repairable. The problem is getting worse, much worse," said [] Gay Gordon-Byrne, executive director of the Repair Association, a small lobbying group that advocates for independent repair shops.

One example is the use of components that are glued or soldered together.

"Ten years ago you could slide off the back of the phone, and pop out the battery," said Olivia Webb, spokesperson for iFixit, a parts retailer and online community dedicated to repair. "Now, they are adhered with screws, battery pull tabs, some of them are glued in. People don't want you to replace your battery – they want you to buy a new phone."

Christine Datz-Romero, executive director of the Lower East Side Ecology Center in New York, noted that with laptops, both the memory and the hard drive are often incorporated into the motherboard, making it impossible to swap out.

"You're hitting a point where you cannot upgrade your technology anymore. And I think that is another way of forcing people to buy a new machine instead of upgrading an old machine," she said.

Proprietary screws are another example. Disassembling the iPhone 12 requires four different types of screwdrivers, according to Hugh Jeffreys, an advocate of the Right to Repair movement.

Manufacturers are also not shying away from engaging in outright illegal practices that the FTC has called out. For example, many companies still have warranties that are voided if anyone, except the company that made the product, has repaired it. A few years ago the FTC warned [] six companies against such void-warranty language. The recipients were eventually revealed [] to be ASUSTeK, HTC, Hyundai, Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony Computer Entertainment.

Original Submission