The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has issued a report examining consumer protection and antitrust issues related to repair restrictions that manufacturers, particularly in the cell phone and auto industries, impose. These repair restrictions include the use of adhesives that make parts difficult to replace, the unavailability of diagnostic software, and the restriction on the availability of replacement parts. These repair restrictions harm small businesses and affect consumer rights under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. It also lists the actions the FTC may take in some cases of anti-repair practices.
The US FTC report submitted to Congress mentions that many consumer products have become increasingly difficult to repair and maintain because they often require specialized tools, access to proprietary diagnostic software, or hard-to-find parts. Not only does this make it nearly impossible for consumers to repair their phones or other devices, but it also limits the ability of a small repair shop to fix the problem with the device. These anti-repair practices by manufacturers, particularly in the cell phone and auto industries, violate the Magnuson-Moss Guarantee Act, which regulates the guarantees for consumer products.
The report also mentions that there are many black-owned small businesses in the repair and maintenance industries, and these anti-repair practices can disproportionately affect small black-owned businesses. Citing a study, the report said that lower-income Americans are more likely to be dependent on smartphones and these communities are affected by smartphone repair restrictions.
Manufacturers often use adhesives in parts of the phone or laptop manufacturers such as Microsoft stick batteries and display panels with adhesives that make it difficult to replace. Some manufacturers do not provide their diagnostic software so the customer and sometimes even repair shops cannot understand the problem and are forced to take the device to the manufacturer. In some cases, cell phone and car manufacturers limit the availability of replacement parts, forcing consumers to order parts directly from the manufacturer, resulting in longer waiting times or higher costs.
Manufacturers claim that these repair restrictions were put in place to protect intellectual property rights and prevent infringement. They also claim these restrictions prevent reputational damage that can be caused by poor repair by a small repair shop and make them liable. To address these issues, the FTC noted that manufacturers may be exacerbating safety concerns by “not providing parts and manuals to individuals and independent repair shops, and by not including information in these manuals about the dangers of certain repairs”.
According to the FTC, in some instances where repair restrictions cause significant injury (financial damage or unjustified health and safety risks) that are not outweighed by consumer benefits or competition, a manufacturer’s use of a repair restriction may be considered a Section 5 violation of the FTC become act. In some cases this can be seen as a violation of antitrust law. FTC could also “make certain types of repair restrictions illegal”.
Follow Gadgets 360 for the latest technical news and reviews Twitter, Facebook and Google News. Subscribe to our YouTube channel for the latest videos on gadgets and technology.
This little dinosaur hunted at night and could hear better than an owl