Attacks on Right to Repair Fall Flat: Repair Roundup Week of July 11
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Attacks on Right to Repair Fall Flat: Repair Roundup Week of July 11

The Daily Caller, a conservative news site started by Tucker Carlson, ran an editorial critical of Right to Repair legislation. It didn’t go well. Also: how BMW’s push to make heated seats a $18-per-month subscription portends a dumb and costly future

Each week, we will bring you the top repair news from around the world, curated for iFixit by the folks over at the Fight to Repair blog.

The Big News

One of the most encouraging signs on the (tortured) political landscape of the U.S. in recent months has been the strong, bi-partisan support for Right to Repair. After all, the nation’s first Right to Repair electronics bill that passed the New York Legislature in June did so with strong, bi-partisan support. The final vote on that bill passed the New York Senate 49-14, attracting support from a handful of Republican senators. It passed the New York Assembly by a vote of 145-1. In Colorado, the recently-passed wheelchair right to repair bill enjoyed bipartisan support.

Also, the FTC voted unanimously to ramp up enforcement of anti-repair violations last year. More recent rulings punishing manufacturers like Westinghouse, Harley-Davidson, and Weber grills for illegal warranty restrictions on the use of third-party service and parts enjoyed 5-0 votes from the politically divided Commission.

A 2020 Waveform survey found strong support for Right to Repair across the American political spectrum.

And survey after survey has shown overwhelming public support for the Right to Repair. A survey in 2020 found that support for Right to Repair is non-partisan—with 73% of Republicans, 81% of Democrats, and 73% of Independents supportive of Right to Repair legislation. Support for Right to Repair was also strong amongst households of all income levels, with no significant difference in support for Right to Repair legislation between households with different income levels.

But that hasn’t stopped opponents of Right to Repair laws from trying to politicize the issue. The most recent example came this week with an op-ed over at The Daily Caller, a D.C.-based site started by (now) Fox News host Tucker Carlson back in 2010 that has earned a reputation as a right-leaning news outlet. The piece: “‘Right To Repair’: A Misguided Populist Movement” by Charles Kolb, a former official in the (George H.W.) Bush White House in the early 1990s.

In his piece, Mr. Kolb focuses his fire on the recently passed Wheelchair Right to Repair law in Colorado. While ignoring the documented pleas of wheelchair users in the state, who suffered waits of weeks or months for even simple repairs, Kolb calls the law a “backdoor effort to attack Big Tech using the bogus rationale of consumer protection.” In the process, he waves his hands at the example made by Massachusetts’ successful decade-long experiment with automobile Right to Repair. “Do-it-yourself car repairs … are a far cry from the repairs required for technologically sophisticated medical devices like MRI machines, CT scanners, or complex, power-assisted wheelchairs,” he says.

(Let’s just pause for a second and contemplate that: repairing automobiles that weigh three tons, contain millions of lines of code and an internal network connecting multiple complex systems, have a range of hundreds of miles, and can travel at speeds of over 100 mph is a far cry from fixing battery-powered wheelchairs with no engine, a maximum range of 10-15 miles, and top speeds of 5 to 8 mph?)

Right to Repair “is not the type of guild-dismantling, deregulatory movement that brought us cost-effective paralegals and dental hygienists,” Kolb claims, though he’s short on the details of how this is any different from other, successful efforts to tackle harmful concentrations of market power. Rather, he returns to that old saw: arguing that Right to Repair will “retard innovation and productivity,” failing to cite any evidence to back up that contention.

To be fair, there’s no reason dental hygienists shouldn’t be able to repair their equipment, too. See our teardown of Oral B’s iO toothbrush and our collection of dental equipment repair manuals.

But a funny thing happened. Daily Caller subscribers read Kolb’s piece … and panned it. A feature asking readers how the article “made them feel” shows 14 responses. Twelve readers said it made them “angry” and two said it made them “sad.” None said the article made them “Happy.” Comments on the article (at point of writing) are all critical of Kolb’s argument.

“Mr. Kolb is full of S and he knows it,” wrote a user with the handle “Ranger Rick.”

“I just love the nitnoid examples the author uses to justify their opposition to right to repair. No one is going to repair their own MRI scanner. The exception does not prove the rule,” wrote a reader using the handle “JWood-TheOther.”

A reader using the handle “Cause and Effect” wrote: “ Right to Repair doesn’t mean FORCED to repair it yourself. People can choose to take their devices to authorized repair shops or do it themselves. Many of the same people that designed the items can repair the items themselves … The problem with the right to repair is companies locking parts and repair tools for themselves and not making them available to the public. Or marking them way up.”

Amen, brother.

The message for policymakers should be clear: the public isn’t stupid. They know a raw deal when they see one, and can definitely make the connection between high prices for service and repair of their property and the restrictions that manufacturers and others put on service, repair, aftermarket parts, and more. They’re looking to their representatives—in both parties—to stand up for their rights and interests and make the economy work better for consumers and families. Right to Repair speaks to that—and everyone knows it.

Other News

FTC Announced Third Right to Repair Action in Three Weeks

The FTC is focused on ensuring that consumers have options when it comes to repairing products. In 2019, they held a workshop to discuss manufacturer restrictions on repair rights. In a 2021 report, they concluded there was “scant evidence to support manufacturers’ justifications for repair restrictions.” After that, they issued a Policy Statement calling for more aggressive enforcement against manufacturers that impose these restrictions. Two weeks ago, we posted about settlements with Harley-Davidson and Westinghouse. Last week, the FTC announced a third settlement, this one involving Weber.

According to the FTC, Weber’s warranty included terms that conveyed that the warranty is void if customers use or install third-party parts on their grill products. For example, the warranty on certain Summit grills stated: “[t]he use and/or installation of parts on your WEBER products that are not genuine WEBER parts will void this warranty, and any damages that result hereby are not covered by this warranty.” These types of restrictions violate the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act, which broadly prohibits companies from conditioning a consumer product warranty on the consumer’s use of any article or service which is identified by brand name unless it is provided for free. Companies can, however, exclude warranty coverage for defects or damage caused by unauthorized parts or service. (

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BMW’s Push To Make Heated Seats A $18 Per Month Subscription Portends A Dumb And Costly Future

BMW’s heated seat subscription option is part of the company’s “Connected Drive” program, and is already reality in Korea, the UK, New Zealand, Germany, and South Africa. It hasn’t come to the U.S. yet, but it’s fairly obvious that it’s likely to, eventually. In this case, the technological capacity for heated seats already exists in the car. The manufacturer has already factored these costs into the base price. And they’re effectively charging you a premium simply to turn on technology that already exists and, frankly, you’ve probably already paid for.

That opens the door to an arms race with hackers and modders, with the Right to Repair (something you already own) debate waiting in the periphery. And the FTC watching you like a hawk, waiting to see if companies make enabling something you already own a warranty violation. (Tech Dirt)

ThredUp, Rent the Runway, The RealReal Rally For Reuse Reform

ThredUpRent the RunwayThe RealReal and eight other reuse and rental providers are banding together to create a vision for the future of textile waste policy.

The American Circular Textiles (ACT) policy group’s roots lie with New York’s Fashion Sustainability and Social Accountability Act. First introduced in October, the proposed legislation—the bill is currently sitting in committee—would require brands and retailers making at least $100 million in revenue and conducting business in New York to divulge their environmental and social impacts and establish binding science-based targets in line with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5-degree goal. These businesses would also have to map at least half of their supply chain, disclose the annual volume of material produced and reveal the median pay of their supply-chain workers as measured against local minimum and living wages. (Sourcing Journal)

India Proposes Right to Repair Framework to Promote Jobs, Help Consumers

The U.S. and EU are two of the largest economies in the world, and they have been the focus of much of the attention in the fight for a right to repair. But lately, the biggest progress has come from outside those two, huge markets. Notably: Australia and now India, where Right to Repair legislation may soon be implemented following a recent announcement from the government. Initiated by the Department of Consumer Affairs (DoCA), a committee has been set up to design the framework of the new law. The government body has also clarified that the framework will not just be limited to smartphones. 

Multiple product segments like farming equipment, consumer durables and the products in the automobile industry will be included. (TechRadar)

The EU’s Common Charging Solution to Manage the E-Waste Crisis

The European Union came up with a proposition that could solve both problems of customer convenience and e-waste. In September 2021, the European Commission took a step in the direction of e-waste management by way of instituting a common charging solution for many portable electronic devices. Once enforced, all sorts of electronic devices, including mobile phones, tablets, e-readers, earphones, cameras, headsets, gaming consoles, speakers, health trackers, navigation devices, keyboards, and computer mice would all require the same type of charger—USB-C. This move would significantly reduce the number of cables produced and sold. The EU has plans on extending this law from small and medium-sized devices to bigger ones and including this policy in the sale of laptops two years after its application.  

The proposal is part of the Green Deal, a raft of new policies to meet the EU climate change goals of reducing 55% of emissions from 1990 levels by 2030, as well as a long-term goal of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050. (

How the Warranty Act Can Protect Your Right to Repair | Better Business Bureau

The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act (“The Warranty Act”) prohibits a company from conditioning a product’s warranty on the customer’s use of any article or service identified by brand, trade, or corporate name.

Also known as “anti-tying” or “right to repair,” in simple terms it means the company can’t tell a customer the warranty will be voided if the customer uses a part made by someone else or has someone other than the dealer repair the product. 

There are two narrow exceptions to the rules—the company has received a waiver from the FTC in advance by proving that the product will only work properly if a specific branded part is used, or the warranty states that the company will provide the identified parts or service for free. Providing certain parts for free but voiding the warranty for using another manufacturer’s parts in other situations would still be a violation of the law. 
(Commercial Appeal)