Welcome to our first Repair Round-Up. Each week, we will bring you the top repair news from around the world, curated for iFixit by the folks over at the Fight to Repair blog.
The Big News:
A proposed law that would give wheelchair owners in Colorado the right to repair their own equipment passed a key hurdle this week: winning approval in the Colorado House. The vote is a major victory for advocates for people with disabilities and backers of right to repair laws.
Some key points:
- HB22-103 requires wheelchair manufacturers to provide parts, embedded software, firmware, tools, or documentation, such as diagnostic, maintenance, or repair manuals, schematic diagrams, etc. to wheelchair owners and to independent repair providers.
- More stories of the travails of wheelchair owners helped win the day.
- The bill is a trimmed-down version of a broader right to repair law that was introduced last year (and re-introduced this year) and follows heart-wrenching testimony by wheelchair owners about long waits to get even simple repairs from authorized repair and service companies.
- The bill is by no means a ‘done deal’—it now moves to the Colorado Senate for consideration. “We have had wheelchair repair advocates join our Right to Repair efforts since almost the beginning, but it’s incredible to see how far this conversation has come,” Gay Gordon-Byrne, the executive director of Repair.org, said in a statement to Vice.com.
And In Other (Repair) News…
Samsung Partners with iFixit for Galaxy Self-Service (TechCrunch)
After Apple made news back in November by agreeing to sell replacement parts directly to consumers, and give them access to the information needed to repair some late-model iPhones, Samsung announced on Thursday that it was partnering with iFixit to launch a new program to repair Galaxy S20, S21 and Tab S7+ devices, which will begin this Summer.
To start, Galaxy device owners will be able to replace display assemblies, back glass, and charging ports. The company will also allow customers to return used parts to Samsung for responsible recycling. In the future, Samsung said it will expand self-repair to more devices and repairs from “our extensive product portfolio.”
Personal Electric Vehicle
Personal transportation vehicles driven by electric motors, to include E-Bikes, electric scooters, and electric unicycles.View Device
Vice reports on how the surge in e-scooter use in New York City driven first by the pandemic and now by soaring gas prices has led to an acute shortage of scooter repair pros. Behind the shortage: a lack of manufacturer support for repair and service. (Duh!)
“There’s definitely a shortage of talent,” Gregory DiBenedetto, the owner of Mini Motors Brooklyn told Vice. “The problem is with most of these scooters you buy on Amazon and stuff, there’s no customer service. If you had a warranty you’d have to box it back up again and send it back to them.”
And speaking of Amazon…a survey by the Institute of Local Self Reliance of more than 900 small business owners found that market concentration and monopolistic practices by big companies (Amazon among them) are at the root of the most significant challenges faced by America’s independent businesses.
- Nearly 2/3 of respondents rated as a major challenge the fact that their big competitors receive special discounts and terms from suppliers.
- More than half of businesses reported that a major challenge is that their big competitors sell goods and services below cost, which is a predatory tactic well-heeled corporations can use to take market share from small rivals without having to compete for it.
- 62% of businesses said Amazon’s control over the online market was a very or extremely significant challenge.
What’s in a word? A lot, when that word is in federal legislation. That’s why medical device manufacturers are lobbying Congress to change the definition of an obscure term: “remanufacturing” to include activities that have long been considered service or repair. The effort is part of lobbying around the Medical Device User Fee Amendments—a must-pass piece of legislation currently in the House.
Experts say the redefined language could severely hamper the ability of hospital technicians and independent service organizations to fix lifesaving equipment such as ventilators, dialysis machines, and other devices throughout the hospital. That would require hospitals to turn to the manufacturer for many repairs, leading to service delays and high costs.
Repair manuals and support documentation for devices used in a health care setting or procedure.View Device
That’s exactly what happened during the early days of the pandemic, when hospitals struggled to bring respirators online but found huge waits for service and parts as a result of a repair ecosystem severely constrained by manufacturers. Since then, there have been grassroots efforts (including by iFixit) to democratize information on service and repair of medical devices, as well as articles in prestigious journals like The Lancet arguing for a medical right to repair.
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