News Release

WashPIRG supports Right to Repair

On January 13, 2022, WashPIRG's Advocate Nicole Walter testified before the Washington House Committee on Consumer Protection and Business in support of House Bill 1810, a proposed "Right to Repair" bill to tackle the growing problem of unrepairable electronic products by requiring cell phone, laptop and tablet manufacturers to make parts, tools and manuals available to consumers and independent repair shops. Read our full testimony below:

 

Chair Kirby and members of the committee,

My name is Nicole Walter and I am the Advocate with WashPIRG, a citizen-based advocacy organization that stands up for the public interest, with thousands of members across the state.

WashPIRG has been championing Right to Repair, such as House Bill 1810 for years, because people need options when their stuff breaks.

I, like many other Washingtonians, have had the experience of Apple trying to sell me a new phone, which I could not afford, because the issues with my existing phone were “unfixable.” After working with the repair experts I have come to know on this campaign, I now doubt that was the case.

Right to Repair is about choice. If you never would even consider taking your device to a local shop instead of the manufacturer’s “authorized” repair shop, Right to Repair is still beneficial. It makes sure that the manufacturer is kept honest by competing with other providers. And if you don’t live anywhere near the manufacturer’s store, it’s a life saver.

This is not about ending manufacturer repair or forcing people to fix things themselves or go to another shop. It’s just about choice.

When only the manufacturer or their “authorized technician” can fix your cell phone or laptop, they can charge whatever they want—or push you into buying new. That’s expensive!

PIRG found that repairing instead of replacing electronics could save the average family about $330 per year, which adds up to $968 million per year across Washington.

We can already take our stuff to outside repair or do it ourselves, what we can’t do is get the official parts, or manuals. And that can remove choice. This is a common sense way to make sure we preserve that choice. 

I think the opponents are essentially arguing that we shouldn’t have our own choices because we might make a wrong choice. In order to protect our privacy or safety, we need manufacturers to limit our options. Besides the fact that they tried to make those points to the FTC, which found they had no evidence to support any of these claims, it’s just a faulty premise. People can, and should, get to decide how their stuff gets fixed. 

Thank you for the opportunity to testify on this important issue.

Sincerely,

Nicole Walter

WashPIRG Advocate

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