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‘Right to Repair’ bill would require manufacturers to ease path to user repairs

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) --With home electronics in heavy use during the ongoing pandemic, the “Right to Repair Act,” (HB 2698) has been introduced in the Oregon Legislature to make it easier for Oregonians to fix their consumer electronics, if they happen to break down.

It would require manufacturers to make parts, tools and repair manuals available to the general public, something that isn’t easily available at the moment according to Charlie Fisher, state director of the Oregon State Public Interest Research Group.

“In general, manufacturers of computers, smartphones, appliances increasingly do not sell replacement parts," Fisher said Wednesday. "They don’t make it easy to access special tools that you need to replace the parts.”

An analysis by OSPIRG estimates that Oregon households could save up to $330 per year by repairing their own electronics or going to local repair shops.

As of 2019, American households spent on average about $1,480 annually on new electronic products, according to OSPIRG. If the measure becomes law, it says Oregonians would save about $544 million by having their electronics repaired, instead of purchasing new products.

Fisher said not having the proper tools can negatively affect small businesses when they service their customers.

“They’re doing their best, but they have to waste time reverse-engineering the manual, or figuring out how to source parts that are not directly from the manufacture,” Fisher said.

State Rep. Janeen Sollman, D-Hillsboro, a chief sponsor of the bill, said, “The Right to Repair act will help to ensure that more Oregonians have access to affordable technology, especially during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, when technology has become instrumental to our daily lives.”

Sollman added that the bill also would help reduce electronic waste and pollution and would help small, independent Main Street businesses by offering them the opportunity to assist Oregonians at a local level.

This bill comes at a time when many people and students are working from home, and the need to have properly functioning devices is demand.

Chris Weber, sales manager at Batteries + Bulbs in Bend, said he has seen an upswing in customers needing everyday electronics repaired.

“You’re going to be more hands-on with the devices," Weber said. "You’re going to have that battery life not holding up when you want it to. In addition to that, people are clumsy in general -- stuff falls off the desk, breaks a charge port or breaks a power supply -- or even breaks a screen.”

Bend / Central Oregon / Government-politics / Technology / Top Stories
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Leslie Cano

Leslie Cano is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Leslie here.

Comments

13 Comments

  1. seems like a solution looking for a problem. There are a ton of websites that have videos how to fix small electronics. I have replaced a battery or two with help from youtube university. the tools usually come with the kits. This movement has its roots in faming equipment. several hundred dollar machines, with no way to service them other than through the dealer. It really makes sense there. Service manuals should be available. Parts and tools already are.

  2. Now I love fixing my own stuff as much as the next guy and it is frustrating when you cant get parts or tools. That said, the government should not be getting involved in what a business does if it does not break the law. THATS CALLED SOCIALISM.

    1. oh my goodness – you would like living in Texas – pay your bills on time, and lose both water and power in the coldest episode of your lifetime, maybe have a family member die of hypothermia in the process…. then get a bill for many thousands of dollars, ‘cus that’s the “free market”! – cool stuff

      – you have been so indoctrinated into being afraid of a word you have committed yourself to not understanding anything to do with how things actually work, as you are fleeced – “if it does not break the law” – who do you think dictated “the laws” – you?, me?

  3. You know this will impact the initial cost of these electronics, Just the infrastructure would be a huge cost, extra manufacturing, warehousing parts, that may never be sold will have to be factored in, we will see that there is a reason that this is not done anymore. COST prohibitive, the parts will not be much less than purchasing a new product, and you would be talking billions of parts just being stored somewhere, and how many years would the manufacture have to store the parts for items that they sell today, five years, ten , twenty. if there is a market for the parts, then an aftermarket manufacturer is already building them, Looks good up front but once again, zero common since, way more involved than just the words “sell replacement parts”. Come on man.

    1. Not always that simple . . . In the last 2 weeks, I have 2 examples for you. Hunter 52″ ceiling fan, fan no longer works so you go on-line and easily diagnose it as being the start-up capacitor. Pulled the capacitor and it was a CBC61, 8.5uF, 300ACA capacitor. Try finding that! First thing you’ll notice is that an ACA61 is a specific design, coming in a multitude of uF ratings . . . 5.5uF not being one of them. When you do finally find a 5.5uF, it’s either 250VAC or 480VAC. Not being an electronics engineer, you start looking to see if you can substitute with one of the others and what the differences are. VAC is the easier to find . . . You might be able to go with the 250VAC, with a possibly shorter life span or go with the 450VAC and possibly longer life span, but no guarantee either will work in your ceiling fan. Then comes the uF rating . . . Can you go with the 5uF or go up to the 6uF (note that you will still deal with the VAC rating). Only to find that there are a number of differing opinions in these regards. Final verdict is that you could use either and they might work in your fan . . . BUT, if you go with the 5uF, the fan may run at slower speeds then it did before and if you go with the 6uF, it may go at faster speeds then previously. Then again, it may just not work at all. Did I mention, the price of either is going to be around $8.50 vs. a new ceiling fan for $125+. Also note that Hunter doesn’t carry or sell the 5.5uF, 300VAC capacitor they used originally in the fan and while you can by a wire harness kit (without the capacitor) or a few other parts for your model. Meanwhile, you also find out that the “premium” Hunter product you bought, really wasn’t the “premium” of old, but rather a cheap fan designed based on the price vs. quality. You also learn that Lowes and Home Depot sell the same basic fan under their own brand names, but engineered for their price. They are all throw away ceiling fans, hoping the consumer would rather buy a new fan vs. trying to repair their now dead fan. ______________________________________________ Second item is a simple 5 fan laptop cooler plate. Comes with 4 – 85mm and 1 – 110mm fan. First, you find out that the common sizes aren’t those two . . . Second, you find out that trying to find compatible sized (thickness) isn’t common as well . . . Third, you learn that the mounting system isn’t common either . . . Forth, the color and/or color of the LED isn’t going to be available in what you’re looking for. (At least the wiring is the same.) Just because it was one of the top 5 rated cooling plates last year doesn’t matter either. So now I have a $28 cooling plate that one of the fans has failed in just shy of 5 months and the failing fan is the one that is in an important spot. Let’s not forget the reason you had to go to the cooling plate, was because you’re not sure you want to tackle disassembling your laptop and replacing the cooling fan to begin with (not a problem for me) and/or the fan used in your laptop is no longer available a year later. Once again, what should be an easy repair isn’t. Just throw away electronics designed to last the length of the short warranty, in the case of the laptop cooling pad, 90 days.____________________________________ Isn’t it interesting that this is the norm today? Let’s be environmentally friendly, but sell electronics and household products to be hard to fix yourself and throw away? Same thing when it comes to consumer replaceable batteries in cellphones

      1. Did you learn a lesson? If your not willing to spend big bucks on repairs then don’t buy that product. Case and point Mercedes Benz, great cars but when they break it cost a fortune to fix. Honda cars cheap to buy cheap to fix. Seems more like consumer responsibility than a manufacturer issue

        1. The items I listed ARE higher end products in their specific categories. Thart was the point . . . they weren’t the “cheap” versions! They also weren’t “store brands”. I used to design and build high end computers and found the same thing. Apple makes high end products and they were the first to design cellphones without consumer replaceable batteries. Alienware used to be high end, now it uses the same cheap components as the cheaper brands. It seems no matter what type of electronics you buy today, it’s designed to not be repairable to the consumer, typically because the replacement components aren’t readily available. I repaired a high end banner printer for a Bend customer. I had to go through an engineer at Digikey to find out the replacement part replaced several previously replaced part numbers, each replacing the previous for one or more reasons. I, as a consumer, couldn’t find that trail.

  4. So I think your point in a few words is, limit our options to say one or two ceiling fans, and the same with the computers, kind of like Cuba, one type of car a 55 Chevrolet, never change the item, and the parts are all the same. Just standardize everything to a few choices. But wait this new improved ceiling fan only uses 1/10th of the electricity , that last years model used, or the new Tesla, uses 1/100th of the energy the 55 Chevrolet uses. Whaaaaaat.
    All I know is, I just want to refill my 1971 refrigerator with the same refrigerant it came with.

      1. Because they are not in the repair business? They are in the mass production business? With Oregon’s almighty declaration that they will provide parts and service manuals they may just find it easier to not sell their products in Oregon or give Oregon what they want and parts that cost near the same as a complete replacement. Why would they do any of this just for the requirements of one small state? Federal? maybe they could get by with it.

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