Biden highlights ‘right to repair’ wins

AP/Andrew Harnik

President Biden touted recent commitments by companies to make it easier for consumers to repair their products during a roundtable on competition Monday evening.

The president signed an executive order last summer directing the Federal Trade Commission to craft rules enforcing the so-called right to repair.

Both Microsoft and Apple have since announced plans to make repair parts and manuals more accessible.

“What’s happened [is] a lot of these companies said, ‘You’re right. We’re going to voluntarily do it. You don’t have to order us to do it,’ ” Biden said at Monday’s meeting.

Advocates have been pushing for the right to repair to be enshrined for years, arguing electronics manufacturers have hurt consumers and diminished competition by restricting consumer choice to fix their own products. Their cause has gained steam since Biden formally took it up.

“Too many areas, if you own a product, from a smartphone to a tractor, you don’t have the freedom to choose how or where to repair that item you purchased,” Biden said Monday, referring to Apple and John Deere. 

“It’s broke,” he continued. “Well, what do I do about it if it’s broke? You had to go to the dealer and you had to pay the dealer’s cost, the dealer’s price. If you tried to fix it yourself, some manufacturers actually would void the warranty.” 

The Biden administration has couched right to repair as a competition issue, arguing that that diminished repair options increase consumer costs and crowd out independent repair shops. 

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