There was a time when manufacturers prided themselves on the quality and reliability of the products they sold. Remember the “lonely Maytag™ repairman” commercial? These days, machines are breaking down at astronomical rates but repairmen are lonely because they can’t do their job: manufacturers do not offer replacement parts and/or the appliances are designed to fail and be replaced.

In 2019, the European Union led the way in defining a consumer’s “right to repair” a product.

The law applies to lighting, washing machines, dishwashers and fridges. It requires manufacturers, beginning in 2021, to make available replacement parts for 10 years and for service companies to be able to fix these products using commonly available tools.

The legislation has been prompted by complaints from consumers across Europe and North America infuriated by machines that break down when they are just out of warranty.

BBC Online

It would be interesting to acquire true statistics on the frequency at which appliances fail just days or weeks after their warranty has expired — and which manufacturers are the biggest culprits. Unfortunately, at the moment, only the manufacturers know the answer to this. (GlitchTrax is developing a tool to help people monitor this.)

Dealing with Garbage and the Environment

As of early 2020, at least 20 U.S. states and Canada are considering implementing similar “right to repair” laws in an effort to reduce the huge increase in waste as major appliances end up in dumps after only a handful of years (or less). A major push for the law comes from environmentalists. The EU estimates that for their own “right to repair” law, by 2030 the energy savings will equal the annual energy consumption of Denmark.

The move to require manufacturers to deliver products that consumers do not have to toss away the minute it fails will help both our wallets and our environment.

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