The US Federal Trade Commission Signals Support for Consumer Right to Repair

The US Federal Trade Commission Signals Support for Consumer Right to Repair

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) just issued a lengthy statement outlining its support for the consumer right to repair.

Photo by Blaz Erzetic
from Pexels.

This isn’t that surprising given the Biden administration’s statement of support that we covered some time ago.

Still, all of this is a pretty big win for consumers in general and it could have huge implications for how companies like Apple and others operate.

For those of you that are unfamiliar with the whole debate, the right to repair basically means that a consumer can repair their equipment themselves or at a third-party vendor if they choose to do so.

The FTC statement reads in part:

“Restricting consumers and businesses from choosing how they repair products can substantially increase the total cost of repairs, generate harmful electronic waste, and unnecessarily increase wait times for repairs. In contrast, providing more choice in repairs can lead to lower costs, reduce e-waste by extending the useful lifespan of products, enable more timely repairs, and provide economic opportunities for entrepreneurs and local businesses.”

One part of the FTC’s statement seems to target companies like Apple and others that maintain a “walled garden” approach to their products.

“Second, the Commission will scrutinize repair restrictions for violations of the antitrust laws. For example, certain repair restrictions may constitute tying arrangements or monopolistic practices—such as refusals to deal, exclusive dealing, or exclusionary design—that violate the Sherman Act.8 Violations of the Sherman Act also violate the prohibition on unfair methods of competition codified in Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act.”

Typically, companies that want to repair things themselves maintain it is because of the increasingly sophisticated and/or proprietary technology they employ in the manufacture, etc., of the product in question. Naturally, cycles of planned obsolescence as well as a general lack of options when it comes to pricing are just a few of the complaints consumers have about this kind of system. And this isn’t just a debate that impacts smartphones and electronics; the right to repair includes things such as John Deere tractors and, of course, optical equipment. Longtime readers of this blog will probably notice, as we have, that many of the major players in our industry are moving repair services back to the mothership.

Of course, we’d like to know where you stand on the right to repair debate in the comments below.

Don’t forget to check out some of our other photography news on Light Stalking at this link right here.

[FTC]

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