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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.”

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Leslie Cano

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

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