3 Reasons to Love Right to Repair - And What Will Make It Work

Posted by Mike Leach on Sep 25, 2017 9:00:00 AM

Broken phone with sustainable right to repair options.

Even though the iPhone is only coming up on its 10th birthday, the impact they’ve had on our lives makes it seem like these pocket-sized supercomputers are much older. But the impact goes far beyond our personal lives. Smartphones have impacted legislative discussions in the past and a new movement is making sure it happens once again.

The Right to Repair movement is calling for OEMs to provide more open access to education and parts for device repairs.

If you aren’t working with device repairs day-in and day-out, this may not seem like such a priority. Five years ago, this wasn’t a necessary discussion—anyone with a few basic tools and an instruction manual could buy the right parts and make simple smartphone repairs.

Now, repairs aren’t so easy as OEMs move toward more closed manufacturing practices. While a few states have already passed Right to Repair legislation, there needs to be widespread support for the open relationship between OEMs, carriers, and consumers.

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3 Reasons Why Right to Repair Makes Sense

OEMs might have technically-sound reasons to use more proprietary parts that aren’t readily available to the public. However, there are many reasons why the mobile industry as a whole can benefit from Right to Repair legislation and a more open repair relationship.

Here are 3 of the most prominent reasons why Right to Repair makes sense for all parties involved:

  • Recycling Is Great, Repair Is Better

Recycling devices to keep them out of landfills is great. But repair is even better because it gives devices a greater lifetime value. It also lets carriers and OEMs reuse existing parts rather than manufacturing new parts 100% of the time.

  • Repairing Is a Sustainable Process

Recycling isn’t the only way to make the mobile device industry more sustainable. Repairing devices creates less waste, reduces the need for raw materials, and requires less energy than manufacturing new devices. And from an economic perspective, repairing devices creates a robust secondary market that carriers and OEMs can benefit from.

  • Repaired Devices Have Second, Third, and Fourth Lives

With efficient repair processes, carriers and OEMs gain access to more device-replacement options in cases of insurance claims and warranties. For consumers, repairs can save them significant amounts of money compared to purchasing a new device while allowing them to keep using devices they’re comfortable with.

Despite the benefits that come along with Right to Repair, OEMs are pushing back to some extent. The road to universal Right to Repair legislation may seem unclear, but there are clear, individual components the industry must work toward to make the movement a reality.

There needs to be industry-wide cooperation to make Right to Repair a long-term plan.

Breaking Down the Needs of the Right to Repair Movement

There needs to be industry-wide cooperation to make Right to Repair a long-term plan. As the legislative process continues, there are some basic components that should always be included in a Right to Repair plan:

  • Easy-Access to Replacement Parts: There are an abundance of counterfeit parts in the market, none of which are acceptable for authorized repairs. OEMs must open up availability to replacement parts and offer them at affordable prices so repair shops can keep up with demand.
  • Universally-Available Documentation: We need to get back to the days when repair manuals were widely available (even to consumers). The repair market has been turning into more of a monopoly in recent years, which won’t work for Right to Repair.
  • Ability to Open Devices Freely: Proprietary fasteners and an abundance of adhesive shouldn’t be the primary means of manufacturing devices. But if they’re completely necessary, licensed repair shops should have access to the right tools to open a device and fix what’s broken.
  • Legally-Unlocked Devices: This point can be a bit controversial. If a consumer has purchased a device, she should be able to move to whatever network she wants because it’s her property. It’s like telling a new Ford owner that she can’t drive on certain highways because they’re controlled by Chevy. From a reverse-logistics point of view, it’s important to be able to repair a device and sell it in the secondary market to any willing customer—not just those on a certain network.
  • Bring Back Education: There was a time when repair technicians would take a week to visit an OEM’s headquarters to learn the ins and outs of new devices. They would walk out with a license to repair those devices. But the industry has moved away from this open education. Right to Repair needs to put the focus back on education so anyone can make authorized repairs.

The main idea of Right to Repair is simple—if owners aren’t able to repair their devices, they don’t actually own them. Putting control back in the hands of consumers requires more transparent relationships between OEMs, carriers, and their customers and Right to Repair legislation is getting us closer to that level of transparency.

Right to Repair is especially important for reverse-logistics organizations like HYLA Mobile. If you want to learn more about optimizing the backend processes that come along with device repairs, contact us today.

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Topics: Device Trade-in Solutions

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The HYLA Mobile blog is a place for thoughtful dialogue that will ultimately change the perception of “used” phones around the world. Visit the HYLA website to learn more.

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