The Right to Repair - Finding The Philosopher's Stone - Laptop Replacement Parts

Jacques du Rand 2022-02-04

Next time you think of just quickly replacing that noisy laptop fan, or upgrading your RAM, you best look at your brand's T&Cs before doing so.

Spoiler Alert - You Don't Have the Right To Fix Your Own Laptop

For those of us that aren't afraid to unscrew that tiny little screw holding our laptops together to either upgrade memory, replace fans or just for a good clean, having the right to do so is not a given with all makes of laptops.

Also, if you've ever owned any kind of Apple device, you already know this and have had to make due with needing to take your device to an approved repair shop for even the slightest issue.

But why? It seems so silly doesn't it?

It seems the restrictions spilled over from the automotive and agricultural industry where, for example, farmers don't have the right to repair their own tractors and have to take them to expensive repair centres. The brands are also usually the more expensive ones like John Deere, where licence agreements prohibit new tractor owners from tampering with the "Security Measures", according to the brand.

Needless to say, with so many people using laptops, having electrical engineering or CompSci degrees and understanding how to take PCs apart and put them back together, to ask them to take their laptops to an expensive repair centre for something simple is really frustrating. And no, this is not because the device is in a particular warranty period. Even once the warranty period is over you still do not have the right to open your device and repair or upgrade it.

Also, forcing anyone to take a device to a specific repair centre (which might charge a premium as they know they are the ONLY place that are allowed to repair the device) is a form of extortion!

The Right to Repair Revolution

There has been a big and accelerating global movement that started in 2001 and originated in the automotive industry in the United States called the "Right to Repair". The act was filed in 2001, but only passed in one state in 2012, coming into effect in 2013 only!

The movement aims to prevent big companies from forcing consumers to buy new items instead of repairing old ones, or forcing them to have items repaired at certain outlets rather than letting them choose where to get their items repaired.

Now, unfortunately for the agricultural industry, some brands refused to sign the resolution and users have started to revolt against the "refusal of right to repair".

In as recent as only 2021 a new industry has signed on to the right to repair movement, and that is the electronics industry. Websites and forums around the world (but mostly active in the USA and Europe) have people filing petitions for the right to repair their own devices. Needless to say the big electronic manufacturing companies like Apple, Microsoft and Amazon (no surprises here) are quite set against the movement. Recent articles have quoted the big brands stating that they are "looking into it".

There are however a growing number of manufacturers (Tesla is on this list) who are siding with the movement to encourage lowering electronic waste (ie encouraging recycling of devices by repair or upgrade). This electronic movement of course does not stop at laptops, but also includes devices like electric bikes, or pretty much anything that uses electronic tech.

Now, I'm not sure about you, but I would like the option to repair my own device should I feel equipped to do so. It will definitely start to play into my decision making process the next time I consider buying new tech.

At least with fibre you can decide to switch relatively easily if you're unhappy with your current provider.