Our work on Right to Repair

We are committed to a repair-friendly Australia that protects consumers, opens up more avenues for repair at a lower cost, and saves local jobs. Our plan will keep the bastards (manufacturers) honest and save you money.

Tactics by manufacturers and big tech, such as software, hardware, legal, and supply constraints, prevent you from being able to repair your device. This reduces options and increases the costs of repair while threatening jobs and polluting our environment.

Right to Repair affects consumer electronics, agriculture, vehicles, medical equipment and more.

We need to challenge big tech/manufacturers and put consumers first.

1.Strengthen Competition and Consumer laws to:
Tackle anti-competitive practices embedded in software that prevent independent repairers and consumers from repairing their devices
Allow independent repairers to access the tools, components and manuals they need to conduct repairs, including chips, batteries, screensboardviews.
Close loopholes in intellectual property clauses to prevent frivolous legal action
End to software-locks by manufacturers, so that repairers can install fully compatible components
2.The right to know
The ACCC to better inform consumers of their rights to repair
Strengthen penalties for manufacturers that mislead consumers about their
3. Strengthen the independent repairer sector and create jobs by:
Stopping anti-competitive tactics and scare campaigns by manufacturers to turn consumers away from independent repair
Encouraging vocational institutions to run courses like the TAFE phone repair course, and offer qualifications in electronics repair whilst not making this obligatory
Regulating authorised service provider programs to prevent abuse and ensure that independent repairers can access components/manuals without contractual obligations and/or limitations
4. Better warranty and consumer guarantees
Stop warranties being declared void if a device is upgraded, when components like the CPU/GPU/RAM are replaced and do not affect the functionality of the device*
Better define and enforce consumer guarantees
Better publicise and fund state and territory consumer protection agencies
and industry ombudsmen so complaints can be resolved quickly
Introduce a complaints system for systemic issues, where malpractice can be
identified and addressed at an industry-wide level
Regulate “extended warranty” programs so consumers know the difference between protections covered for free under consumer law, and what is provided under those programs.page2image26057280
5.Put a stop to planned obsolescence
Mandatory minimum software support for products, determined by an independent body on a case-by-case basis, eg minimum 4 years feature update support, minimum 6 years security support
Consumers should be entitled to a third party remedy for security or software updates when the manufacturer ends supports
Minimum design standards determined by Standards Australia for repairability
Regulatory guidelines which define a reasonable period of time for product lifespan. This will extend the lifespan of products, alongside strong penalties for manufacturers who engage in planned obsolescence.
6. Reduce e-waste
Invest in recycling and re-use initiatives, so e-waste does not enter our environment.
7. Star rating system
Rate product repairability from 1-5 stars, 1 = very poor, 5 = excellent
Include product life-expectancy and coverage under Australian Consumer
Show prominently on packaging, at point of sale and online
Conduct a 12-month trial with community consultation to improve the
efficacy of the system.
8. Educate consumers, community repairs
Introduce repair, sustainability and circular economy in the school
Utilise traditional/social media, to inform consumers of their rights under
Australian Consumer Law.
Provide grants to local councils to assist in forming local repair groups, educating the public about repair options and conducting repair-friendly events

Our plan will reduce costs and increase repair options

Regulation will promote honest interactions, making consumers better informed of their options. Some manufacturers refuse to conduct motherboard repairs, requiring the whole board to be replaced. Removing constraints to access of parts, will open up other repair options. For example: the replacement of a single chip.

Our plan will reduce the cost of repair because independent repairers will offer the same service for less (a result of competition, resources and consumer choice), forcing the manufacturers to adapt and reduce their prices for repair – a result of a functional and competitive free market. Manufacturers will be prevented from pushing lies on the lines of “you can only repair X with us,” which will encourage consumers to look for more affordable alternatives. A strong tribunal which can enforce harsh penalties will incentivise manufacturers to offer a fair and just treatment to their customers, including an acceptable price for repair.

Australian Productivity Commission Draft Report – Right to Repair.

We will strengthen and protect Australian industry, creating jobs

The Australian repair industry employs hundreds of thousands of Australians, however dodgy tactics by manufacturers are placing an important industry at risk.

The productivity commission reflected in its draft report that the consumer electronics industry is declining, attributing anti-competitive tactics by manufacturers to the endangerment of 12,000-15,000 Australian jobs. This industry should be growing, especially with the increased use of electronics in society. If we don’t act now, we risk losing essential repair industries. This would cause financial pain for consumers, pollute our environment, and pose a national security risk.

Examples of anti-competitive practices that need to be addressed include:

Software Locking
Apple Inc. and others.
A software lock essentially pairs the devices IMEI (international mobile equipment identity) with a serial number of the component that came with it from the factory. If that serial number does not match, the device will display an error which reads “ Important Display Message Unable to Verify this iPhone has a genuine Apple display” or “Unable to verify this iPhone has a genuine Apple battery” – which prompts users to visit an Apple Authorised Repairer or Apple for service. The issue will appear regardless of the status of the part installed, it could be a third-party fully compatible part, or genuine original part from another iPhone.

The issue here is not “what part” is installed but “who installs it,” and in these circumstances the installer
Component Supply Restrictions
Apple Inc. and others.
OEM’s are increasingly preventing their chip suppliers like Texas Instruments from providing chips like the CD3217, ISL9239 and ISL9240 for the MacBook Pro to independent repair.

These chips are vital to USB-C and Battery charging functions – if a replacement cannot be sourced, a repair cannot occur and the computer won’t have power – unless the entire motherboard is replaced.
Specialised Software for Repair
John Deere and others.
Certain OEM’s will only provide software which is necessary to repair their devices to their own repair centres, or dealerships and will refuse to offer these to independent repair or consumers. So while an agricultural repair for instance, like replacing a nozzle/sensor can be completed with a compatible component successfully – software constraints prevent functionality if conducted by an independent repairer, which puts those jobs at risk.

Our plan is practical and will work

While Australian consumer law is one of the strongest in the world – we can do better. The European Union is leading the worldwide movement for Right to Repair, and international action demonstrates that there’s no reason for no action in Australia. We will not alienate industry or put hurdles in the way of innovation.

However, we understand that reform needs to be practical, which is why we want the following exceptions:
• We understand that it’s unreasonable for manufacturers to provide warranty protections for a foreign object, so the warranty would only cover the original components or the cost of the original device.
• In the rare case where an upgrade does cause damage to other components, exceptions apply.
• The minimum standards would only apply to extreme situations, where it is appropriate and to be judged on a case-by-case basis. Almost all devices – including popular phones which are hard to repair would still meet these standards. These standards would only apply to devices that are completely unrepairable – with only several cases over the past decade. The main objective of these standards is to prevent product design from devolving to such an extreme state of anti-repair.

Credit: Duncan Woodhouse, Unsplash

Right to Repair reform will protect our environment

“[… lead, mercury, cadmium, arsenic, beryllium, palladium, cobalt, tin, gallium and carcinogenic chemicals such as brominated flame retardants. Now that’s a mouthful, and we don’t want all those in our environment where they can cause harm to plants, animals and humans, potentially causing cancer.”

Adrian Lozancic, speaking at the Productivity Commission’s hearings into Right to Repair

Right to Repair reform is essential to reduce the amount of e-waste entering our ecosystem and pollution entering our atmosphere. We want to reduce the amount of toxic chemicals entering our waterways and environment, increase the life expectancy of products, and stop them going to landfill. We want to reduce pollution entering waterways and our atmosphere and mitigate the effects of climate change from foreign factories, as we seek local repair solutions instead of new products from overseas.

A repair star rating – five stars for consumer choice.

The best solution to the problem of unrepairable products is the consumer in a free, but regulated market. If we keep the consumer informed, they will be more likely to purchase something they know will last – as opposed to junk which will die after warranty.

Adrian Lozancic, lead Right to Repair campaigner

The strongest potential driver of repairability is power in the hands of consumers and that’s why we support a star-rating system for repair.

A star rating system will reward companies that manufacture repairable products with more business and incentivise those who don’t to make changes, empower consumers to help make a more informed decision, incentivise innovation and give consumers freedom of choice.

Photo by Brian Wangenheim on Unsplash

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