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The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has published an in-depth report looking at how the product repair restrictions that manufacturers put in place negatively impact consumers and small businesses in various ways.

apple-independent-repair-program.jpg

Titled "Nixing the Fix," the report covers a litany of methods that companies use to limit the ability for customers and independent business to repair their products.

Focusing on mobile phone and car manufacturers in particular, the report found that even when a warranty does not explicitly require that repairs be performed by the original manufacturer, many manufacturers restrict independent repair and repair by consumers in the following ways:
  • Product designs that complicate or prevent repair
  • Unavailability of parts and repair information
  • Designs that make independent repairs less safe
  • Policies or statements that steer consumers to manufacturer repair networks
  • Application of patent rights and enforcement of trademarks
  • Disparagement of non-OEM parts and independent repair
  • Software locks and firmware updates
  • End User License Agreements
Manufacturers including Apple have argued that these repair restrictions exist to protect intellectual property rights and prevent injuries and other negative consequences, and that opening up repair access would undermine the safety and security of their products.

However, after evaluating manufacturers' explanations for the repair restrictions via a workshop and requests for research, the FTC found "scant evidence" to support them. The report continues:
Many consumer products have become harder to fix and maintain. Repairs today often require specialized tools, difficult-to-obtain parts, and access to proprietary diagnostic software. Consumers whose products break then have limited choices.

Furthermore, the burden of repair restrictions may fall more heavily on communities of color and lower-income communities. Many Black-owned small businesses are in the repair and maintenance industries, and difficulties facing small businesses can disproportionately affect small businesses owned by people of color.
The report cites one study which found that the appearance of electronic goods was only "moderately" important to consumers, as opposed to longevity and reliability, which were "extremely" important, and suggests that the lack of information regarding repairability causes "an asymmetry in the market balance and leaves consumers unable to make the best buying decisions regarding to their own needs."

In addition, the report notes that given a choice between a low-cost repair and buying a new mobile phone, many consumers will opt for the former. In defence of this claim, it cites Apple's 2017 battery replacement program, which was introduced after Apple was found to be throttling the performance of some iPhone models to compensate for degrading batteries. In a letter to investors, CEO Tim Cook said that iPhone sales were lower than anticipated due to "some customers taking advantage of significantly reduced pricing for iPhone battery replacements."

In the conclusion of the report, which was carried out at the direction of Congress and submitted with unanimous consent, the FTC pledges to address what it perceives as unfair restrictions by pursuing "appropriate law enforcement and regulatory options, as well as consumer education, consistent with our statutory authority."

The FTC also suggests that consumers can help to redress the balance by reporting when manufacturers aren't obeying the existing rules regarding repairs.

"This is a great step in the right direction," said iFixit CEO Kyle Wiens, commenting on the report. "The bi-partisan report shows that FTC knows that the market has not regulated itself, and is committing to real action."

"We're glad to see the FTC acknowledge the scope of the problem, and the real harm to consumers. We're also happy to see the FTC's pledge to undertake enforcement and regulatory solutions to repair restrictions, and fully support them in doing so—these actions are long overdue."
Apple continues to lobby against state-level legislation that would require electronic hardware manufacturers to provide device schematics, device parts, and instructions to third-party repair shops for device repairs. A "right to repair" bill currently being contemplated in Nevada is one of many bills that states across the US are considering to put into law, although none have yet been successful.

Outside of the U.S., the European Parliament in November voted to support the recommendations of the EU Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection on the "Right to Repair," including a system of mandatory labelling on consumer electronics to provide explicit information on the repairability and lifespan of products.

Article Link: FTC Report Highlights Consumer Harms of Manufacturer Repair Restrictions
 
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Juicy Box

macrumors 603
Sep 23, 2014
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The FTC also suggests that consumers can help to redress the balance by reporting when manufacturers aren't obeying the existing rules regarding repairs.
This sounds like when people say that doing your own repairs, or opening your Mac will void the warranty, even though it is not legally the case.

What could happen is that Apple could refuse a warranty claim due to someone opening their device, and the above statement sounds like the FTC would like consumers to start reporting Apple and other companies that are doing these illegal practices.
 

nwcs

macrumors 68020
Sep 21, 2009
2,402
4,115
Tennessee
I fully support the concept of repairability but at the same time people can’t have it both ways. Some of the designs and products people are after are difficult to achieve with easy repairability. It can be mitigated some by the companies providing more information but specialized tools and knowledge will still be required. Throw in the fact that many people support both recycling but also increasingly demand easily disposed of “stuff” and it gets even more perplexing how to solve the problem in a meaningful way. And I guess we can include non-OEM stuff that may be totally satisfactory in fulfilling the task or a cheap knockoff or counterfeit which can make this whole topic even more problematic.
 
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amartinez1660

macrumors 65816
Sep 22, 2014
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I think I’ll still go the Apple way even when AppleCare isn’t active though (with or without right to repair turned to eleven). Also in my experience in the last decade of dozens of Apple devices only a couple have broken down or needed repair, the only real mention was a pair of AirPods Max that broke down in 2 weeks around release time.
Not counting a couple of Beats sport earphones, they were one year lifespan and frustrating on that front.
So I guess the best “fix” is a reliable product that likely won’t break down ever.
 
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PlayUltimate

macrumors 6502a
Jul 29, 2016
700
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Boulder, CO
Sigh. Back in the day, my grandma had a Ford Falcon. When you opened the hood you saw an engine and the ground. under the car. It was ridiculously easy to repair and was quite simple mechanically. But cars are now have mobile computers, electronic windows, brakes, ABS, AC, fuel injection, a multitude of monitoring systems. Broken parts are no longer repaired but replaced. . . . This is true in EVERY industry.
I was looking at my 3-yr old Delta kitchen faucet to see if I could stop a leak. No longer is there a simple $0.50 washer that can be replaced. Instead you have to replace the entire "cartridge" that costs $30.
Additionally, you have the laments of my brother who wonders why technology keeps changing. Why can't things just work forever? He hates the many and evolving cables: Firewire, USBA, lightening, USB C, HDMI, ethernet.
 
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boss.king

macrumors 603
Apr 8, 2009
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Sigh. Back in the day, my grandma had a Ford Falcon. When you opened the hood you saw an engine and the ground. under the car. It was ridiculously easy to repair and was quite simple mechanically. But cars are now have mobile computers, electronic windows, brakes, ABS, AC, fuel injection, a multitude of monitoring systems. Broken parts are no longer repaired but replaced. . . . This is true in EVERY industry.
I was looking at my 3-yr old Delta kitchen faucet to see if I could stop a leak. No longer is there a simple $0.50 washer that can be replaced. Instead you have to replace the entire "cartridge" that costs $30.
Additionally, you have the laments of my brother who wonders why technology keeps changing. Why can't things just work forever? He hates the many and evolving cables: Firewire, USBA, lightening, USB C, HDMI, ethernet.
There’s definitely a middle ground to be found here.things can be both repairable and modern, they just have to be designed with repairability in mind. companies choose not to do this though because if they can omit those design requirements and charge stupid amounts to repair or replace parts or even the whole thing, they make more money.
 

needsomecoffee

macrumors 6502
May 6, 2008
282
636
Seattle
As plans for the United States first new lithium are revealed the vast impact on the environment of just this one mine is revealed. And yet we are at the level of corporate governance in which Tim Apple & Co. + John Deere & Co. successfully lobby such that we do not have the right to repair devices we own thereby taking away a reasonable cost option to reduce our impact as consumers on the environment. The new and shiny is not what everyone wants, yet we get no options because of "maximizing shareholder value" - something that can be driven up without accounting for the spillover costs of the devastating impacts of rare earth mining by companies further up the value chain.
 
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Scipster

macrumors regular
Aug 13, 2020
227
591
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't believe Apple actually repairs any of its own products. Instead, they provide you with a new/refurbished device and recycle the device you brought in. How can Apple be responsible for providing repair materials when it doesn't repair items themselves?
 

tubular

macrumors 6502a
Oct 19, 2011
861
1,832
I think part of Apple's motivation for parts signing comes from this, which was literally a billion-dollar+plus problem for them.

https://www.macrumors.com/2013/04/1...ees-scam-apple-with-counterfeit-iphone-parts/

Follow-up story: https://www.macrumors.com/2018/10/09/apple-dramatically-reduces-iphone-fraud-in-china/

Having said that, the solder-it-all-down mentality has a real impact on longevity. I have a 2014-era MacBook Pro 13" that I'm not willing to bump to Big Sur because the poor thing has only 128GB of SSD. Earlier today I tried to update to the Xcode 12.5 command line tools, and its said: no Sur, no sir.
 
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DesignTime

macrumors regular
Feb 15, 2021
196
525
Apple only cares about selling more devices. Who cares that it’s destroyed the environment. Who cares that if fixable most of these devices could last years more than they do now. Who cares when Apple markets a new device that is 35% lighter, 50% brighter, 45% faster that they could have released 5 years ago but didn’t because they could sell you 4 phone in between. All to make money.
 

BulkSlash

macrumors 6502
Aug 20, 2013
267
697
In fairness there is one upside to Apple pairing all components to a single device- it makes an iPhone much less desirable to steal. When Apple first put the ability to lock and remotely wipe devices into iOS it stopped a lot of theft but then thieves found they could still sell devices for parts. With components locked to a device they can't even do that now, so while this does come at a cost for repairability, it's not completely bad.
 

Morgenland

macrumors 65816
May 28, 2009
1,312
1,380
Europe
Why did the U.S. Federal Trade Commission previously allow the production of mechanical watches that could not be repaired even by specialists and had to be sent to the manufacturer? Basically, these commissions today make themselves the shillelagh of lobby representatives directed against Apple. And they are surely aware of this?
 

Morgenland

macrumors 65816
May 28, 2009
1,312
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Europe
whatever happened to the days when batteries were easy to replace
both samsung and aapl
Do you really wish those days back?

Next crybabies are just around the corner...

I am happy about the success Apple has. If you don't have success in life, you will try to make life difficult for Apple. This is called envy or bad upbringing.
 
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Morgenland

macrumors 65816
May 28, 2009
1,312
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Apple only cares about selling more devices. Who cares that it’s destroyed the environment. Who cares that if fixable most of these devices could last years more than they do now. Who cares when Apple markets a new device that is 35% lighter, 50% brighter, 45% faster that they could have released 5 years ago but didn’t because they could sell you 4 phone in between. All to make money.
1. In terms of content, what you write is of course very debatable. Of course, you know that the built-in components (LIDAR, displays, batteries, camera) are the latest that can be used in mass production. This is the only way Apple can keep its nose in front. Nothing is artificially delayed for '5 years'.
But I have certainly heard such opinions in the schoolyard.

2. You must be a fierce opponent of Tesla in terms of environment. E-Cars flood the world with huge batteries that are hardly recycled beyond advertising brochures.
Have you ever seen a car battery recycling production line somewhere on the internet? Not me! That's how well lobbying can work.
 
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Morgenland

macrumors 65816
May 28, 2009
1,312
1,380
Europe
In fairness there is one upside to Apple pairing all components to a single device- it makes an iPhone much less desirable to steal. When Apple first put the ability to lock and remotely wipe devices into iOS it stopped a lot of theft but then thieves found they could still sell devices for parts. With components locked to a device they can't even do that now, so while this does come at a cost for repairability, it's not completely bad.
Yes, such stories have also become known from the Chinese black market. Apple had to react here as well.
 

DarthDon

macrumors regular
Apr 17, 2020
145
55
actually no one gives a s*** to upgrade memory on tv's or they'r panels. why we need to talk about it? if you take good care of your stuff you don't need to replace batteries or panels ever. your Mac or iPhone will last for longer then you like to use it. if you don't - buy apple care or invest in some new stuff. you can waste your batterie or scratch things badly in no time - but don't blame others for it.

there are phones and notebooks out there where you can replace parts of. but those are ugly bricks.
 

Morgenland

macrumors 65816
May 28, 2009
1,312
1,380
Europe
I am annoyed by these commissions:
They do nothing for us consumers, and at the same time disturb the great development work of eager engineers in order to feed numerous bureaucrats instead.

I used to repair old radios and TVs with a soldering iron and by swapping components. You used to be able to do that, but the 80s of the last millennium are over, these people should take note.
 
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Morgenland

macrumors 65816
May 28, 2009
1,312
1,380
Europe
I think part of Apple's motivation for parts signing comes from this, which was literally a billion-dollar+plus problem for them.

https://www.macrumors.com/2013/04/1...ees-scam-apple-with-counterfeit-iphone-parts/

Follow-up story: https://www.macrumors.com/2018/10/09/apple-dramatically-reduces-iphone-fraud-in-china/

Having said that, the solder-it-all-down mentality has a real impact on longevity. I have a 2014-era MacBook Pro 13" that I'm not willing to bump to Big Sur because the poor thing has only 128GB of SSD. Earlier today I tried to update to the Xcode 12.5 command line tools, and its said: no Sur, no sir.
You are absolutely right about the counterfei problem...

About upgrading: When I buy an iMac in the next few months, I will of course take the variant with the largest memory and processing power. I've always done that, and have therefore been able to work satisfactorily with Apple machines for longer (currently MacMin from 2012). If you need a new computer every 10 years, it can be a bit more expensive.

With the huge Windows boxes you had to buy a new computer every 3-4 years. There you could update parts, but that was often no joy either.

waste.jpg
pc.jpg

moni.jpg

All the PC junk was certainly only 1% attempted to repair.
I think in terms of the environment, Apple's hardwired iMacs with a fantastic form factor are the only sensible answer.
 
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gene731

macrumors 6502
Oct 28, 2015
405
417
Apple only cares about selling more devices. Who cares that it’s destroyed the environment. Who cares that if fixable most of these devices could last years more than they do now. Who cares when Apple markets a new device that is 35% lighter, 50% brighter, 45% faster that they could have released 5 years ago but didn’t because they could sell you 4 phone in between. All to make money.
That’s a little in the dramatic side “destroyed the environment” almost drama queenish. Do you go to the Teslarumors.com page and complain how battery powered cars are for the environment? Because once those battery packs start dying a lot aren’t going to be disposed of properly, thrown down the hill into some creek leaking poison out years over years until someone finds it. Yes Apple is a for profit company and guess what? For profit companies are in the business to make money. Mostly hand over fist amounts of money.
 
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