The Right to Repair

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Aether
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The Right to Repair

Post by Aether » 2018-06-03 03:56pm

I did a quick search on the forum and didn't see anything regarding the "Right to Repair" bills that are now being pushed in several states.

For the last several months a battle has started to brew over a customer's ability and access to their own property when it comes to repair. An article over at Motherboard can give you a good synopsis:


Several companies (Apple, IBM, John Deere) have come out against what they would call unauthorized third party repair facilities and/or consumers having access to repair their own equipment. Often this is under the guise of safety or security issues to the consumers themselves.

I am going to pick on Apple for the moment and highlight one video from Linus Media Group.


The long and the short of it is that an employee at LMG opened and ended up cracking an iMac Pro screen. LMG wanted to have Apple to repair their iMac and they knew it would not be under warranty and had no issue of paying out pocket. Apple refused and explained that LMG would need to go to a third party authorized repair store. To further compound the issue, the third party store 1) couldn't fix the iMAC pro because it required special certification for that product that didn't exist, and 2) even if the certification existed, they were unable to sell the parts because then they would lose their certification.

This prompted a lot of discussion with some people backing Apple and others criticizing/bashing Apple for their lack of support and customer service.

Apple Sheep is an Apple supporter, but is rather equal handed in the discussion; although, I fundamentally disagree with the automobile analogy which I will get to later in the thread.


Louis Rossman is unauthorized Apple repair store in Manhattan. He is known for his harsh criticism of Apple products including their design and repairability. He recently had a stream with Jessa Jones of iPad Rehab where US Customs confiscated refurbished Apple screens that she ordered from a Chinese supplier.


Anyway, TL:DR/W.

I am really struggling why someone would argue in support of any company policy that 1) will happily void your warranty for simply opening up a device which the FTC disagrees, 2) Willing to back legislation under, IMO, flimsy security and safety concerns to keep independent shops or individuals from repairing/hacking/modifying with aftermarket products, and 3) limits access to OEM parts under similar arguments.

I think this discussion gets muddied with the lack of understanding the nuance with warranty work, repair, and modifications.

If say Apple does not wish to warranty an entire product because it has been opened, repaired, and/or modified I would disagree with this. The onus is on the manufacture to show why said repair or mod has caused a particular failure that the customer is asking warranty work to be done.

Since many people bring up the analogy of an automobile, I will continue to do so because many people miss the point. Speaking from personal experience, I have a heavily modified Mustang GT: a tuned ECU, aftermarket supercharger, full performance exhaust that's louder than your mom last night, methanol injection, coilovers, subframes, relocation brackets/arms, and a few other neat items. If something were to go wrong with my radio, rack and pinion, or other mechanical issues, then the dealership and by extension Ford cannot void the warranty for the entire car; my radio would be under warranty. Unless, with some incredible magical thinking, they could say an after market subframe connector broke my radio. Spoiler Alert: LOL. No. However, if a piston blew through the block, Ford would have every right not to warranty the engine because I heavily modified it.

This is the very heart of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. Essentially, the MMWA does not allow a manufacture to force a consumer to use "any article or service...identified by brand, trade, or corporate name..."; i.e., I don't need to use Motorcraft parts on my Mustang and by doing so does not void the warranty of other defective parts. Now, true, is my particular case the more I mod the car the harder it will be for me to argue that something, is indeed, under the manufacture warranty. I fully accept this, which leads me to my next issue.

Now let's say that my repairs or mods are not covered. The dealership may still fix my car, depending on how heavily modded it is, or may turn me away. If they do turn me away, I have an option of an independent repair mechanic, who by law must have access to OEM diagnostic information, or I can purchase an OEM or aftermarket part myself and repair it on my own time.

In all of the scenarios above, I am either being so biased or dense, that I cannot see how Apple or any other electronic manufacture can lock up their repair tools, information, and parts unless you go to them directly.

LAST MINUTE EDIT.

This doesn't even consider the access of tools, information, and parts after a warranty expires. There too, a consumer should have the right to repair rather than buy a new one.

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Re: The Right to Repair

Post by U.P. Cinnabar » 2018-06-03 05:18pm

Didn't John Deere go one step further, and claim customers didn't really own the John Deere products they'd purchased?
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Re: The Right to Repair

Post by Aether » 2018-06-03 06:04pm

I forgot to link the Motherboard article in my first post.
U.P. Cinnabar wrote:
2018-06-03 05:18pm
Didn't John Deere go one step further, and claim customers didn't really own the John Deere products they'd purchased?
I believe they did. This was summarized in a Wired article and the actual letter John Deere sent to the Copyright and Patent office is here.

This was initially brought up in the car enthusiast community as OEM lobbyists initially tried to argue that the ECU software is protected under the DMCA; however, the Copyright Office granted an exemption for tuning ECUs.

To summarize my 50000 foot view:

1) Is it under warranty? Fix it. Swapping out an audio chip has no bearing on the charging of the phone. The onus is on the manufacture to prove otherwise.
2) Is it not under warranty? Then provide access to diagnostic tools, information, and OEM parts.

Don't agree? Then please provide why manufactures of consumer electronics deserve to be exempted from the above. So far, I have seen woefully pathetic arguments.

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Re: The Right to Repair

Post by U.P. Cinnabar » 2018-06-03 06:12pm

Backed up by the best judges and politicians corporate money can buy.
"Beware the Beast, Man, for he is the Devil's pawn. Alone amongst God's primates, he kills for sport, for lust, for greed. Yea, he will murder his brother to possess his brother's land. Let him not breed in great numbers, for he will make a desert of his home and yours. Shun him, drive him back into his jungle lair, for he is the harbinger of Death.."
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Re: The Right to Repair

Post by Sea Skimmer » 2018-06-05 10:14pm

The auto industry already went down this road before, and the backlash result was congress forcing them to adapt the OBD 2 standard for all diagnostic tools. But that was a big market affecting the whole US population directly, even people who don't have cars being pretty totally dependent on countless other people doing jobs that involve them.
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Re: The Right to Repair

Post by houser2112 » 2018-06-07 08:21am

Sea Skimmer wrote:
2018-06-05 10:14pm
The auto industry already went down this road before, and the backlash result was congress forcing them to adapt the OBD 2 standard for all diagnostic tools. But that was a big market affecting the whole US population directly, even people who don't have cars being pretty totally dependent on countless other people doing jobs that involve them.
I think smart phones today are more ubiquitous than cars. I see people that look homeless have smart phones. While everyone is dependent at least indirectly on vehicles being in good repair as you say, I'd say virtually everyone is directly dependent on hand held electronic devices being in good repair.

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Re: The Right to Repair

Post by Raw Shark » 2018-06-07 10:32am

houser2112 wrote:
2018-06-07 08:21am
I think smart phones today are more ubiquitous than cars. I see people that look homeless have smart phones.
I am on a first-name basis with homeless people who have smart phones.

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Re: The Right to Repair

Post by Zixinus » 2018-06-08 02:24pm

I found the idea that Apple would extend its walled garden philosophy to hardware to be unsurprising and frankly, anyone who buys Apple should know to expect this sort of thing.
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Re: The Right to Repair

Post by Broomstick » 2018-06-08 03:36pm

By restricting the ability to repair an item, all the way to the point of making it impossible to repair the item, a company is essentially trying to force you to buy new products. I find that a distasteful way to treat your customers.
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Re: The Right to Repair

Post by Marko Dash » 2018-06-08 07:02pm

has microsoft or anybody else got an ad mocking them for this yet?
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Re: The Right to Repair

Post by Aether » 2018-06-08 07:55pm

Zixinus wrote:
2018-06-08 02:24pm
I found the idea that Apple would extend its walled garden philosophy to hardware to be unsurprising and frankly, anyone who buys Apple should know to expect this sort of thing.
It's not just Apple.

God forbid you decide to repair your own LG washing machine, refrigerator, John Deere tractor, or Dyson $uper$uck vacuum cleaner. Even worse...you take it to a big, scary THEY WILL PROBABLY INSTALL 1337 HAX unauthorized third party to repair your digital coffee maker.

Manufactures want to strangle the entire supply chain. Fuck them. :finger:

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Re: The Right to Repair

Post by Broomstick » 2018-06-08 07:57pm

That's why I still make tea with a kettle of boiling water and loose leaf instead of a Keurig.
A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. Leonard Nimoy.

Now I did a job. I got nothing but trouble since I did it, not to mention more than a few unkind words as regard to my character so let me make this abundantly clear. I do the job. And then I get paid.- Malcolm Reynolds, Captain of Serenity, which sums up my feelings regarding the lawsuit discussed here.

If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich. - John F. Kennedy

Sam Vimes Theory of Economic Injustice

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Re: The Right to Repair

Post by Aether » 2018-06-08 08:55pm

Speaking of Keurig, yeah. That whole debacle with Keurig 2.0 trying to use DRM on god damn coffee pods.

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Re: The Right to Repair

Post by bilateralrope » 2018-06-09 03:59am

Zixinus wrote:
2018-06-08 02:24pm
I found the idea that Apple would extend its walled garden philosophy to hardware to be unsurprising and frankly, anyone who buys Apple should know to expect this sort of thing.
Especially when we now know that Apple knew that the iPhone 6 would bend before it released them. Looks like they have a business model of sell products known to be faulty, then profit from the fix. A business model that doesn't work if someone else can repair the problem.

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Re: The Right to Repair

Post by Zaune » 2018-06-09 04:02am

Keurig's coffee isn't very good anyway.
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Re: The Right to Repair

Post by Broomstick » 2018-06-09 06:03am

I don't consider any coffee good, actually, that's why I'm a tea drinker.
A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. Leonard Nimoy.

Now I did a job. I got nothing but trouble since I did it, not to mention more than a few unkind words as regard to my character so let me make this abundantly clear. I do the job. And then I get paid.- Malcolm Reynolds, Captain of Serenity, which sums up my feelings regarding the lawsuit discussed here.

If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich. - John F. Kennedy

Sam Vimes Theory of Economic Injustice

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Re: The Right to Repair

Post by Zixinus » 2018-06-09 08:16am

Aether wrote:
2018-06-08 07:55pm
Zixinus wrote:
2018-06-08 02:24pm
I found the idea that Apple would extend its walled garden philosophy to hardware to be unsurprising and frankly, anyone who buys Apple should know to expect this sort of thing.
It's not just Apple.

God forbid you decide to repair your own LG washing machine, refrigerator, John Deere tractor, or Dyson $uper$uck vacuum cleaner. Even worse...you take it to a big, scary THEY WILL PROBABLY INSTALL 1337 HAX unauthorized third party to repair your digital coffee maker.

Manufactures want to strangle the entire supply chain. Fuck them. :finger:
Of course it isn't just apple. It's the entire electronics industry that has gone towards "replace, not repair" philosophy. Even cars have become much more difficult to repair than before. Planned obsolescence has been a creeping to become more and more standard. A standard that Apple, in its innovation, embraces.

That they'd try this with coffee machines also surprises me, but not much.
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Re: The Right to Repair

Post by Gandalf » 2018-06-09 09:01am

Didn't Microsoft do this with their Windows OS back in the nineties, preventing people from modding their own Windows stuff, or have I misremembered something?
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Re: The Right to Repair

Post by Aether » 2018-06-09 12:51pm

Zixinus wrote:
2018-06-09 08:16am

Of course it isn't just apple. It's the entire electronics industry that has gone towards "replace, not repair" philosophy. Even cars have become much more difficult to repair than before. Planned obsolescence has been a creeping to become more and more standard. A standard that Apple, in its innovation, embraces.
I wouldn't disagree, but are you ok with how heavy handed companies are being with this? We can certainly mourn when the day comes where plan obsolescence is de facto standard as long as that is the desire of the consumer. At our own peril IMO. However, companies actively campaigning against your right to fix your own shit is an affront to consumer choice and ownership and should be fought against.

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Re: The Right to Repair

Post by Zixinus » 2018-06-09 05:04pm

I think you misunderstood the tone of my post: I wans't arguing that this should be a good thing. If anything, I'm bitterly complaining.
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Re: The Right to Repair

Post by houser2112 » 2018-06-11 08:50am

I don't think it's fair to say that cars follow the "planned obsolescence" model that electronics seem to (why can't I seem to find a toaster that has more settings than "bread warmer" and "charred into oblivion"?). While it's true that it's becoming very difficult, if not impossible, for the amateur wrench monkey to work on one's own car due to many of the car's functions being incorporated into proprietary software, it's my impression that cars are better made these days.

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Re: The Right to Repair

Post by Aether » 2018-06-11 08:07pm

houser2112 wrote:
2018-06-11 08:50am
I don't think it's fair to say that cars follow the "planned obsolescence" model that electronics seem to (why can't I seem to find a toaster that has more settings than "bread warmer" and "charred into oblivion"?). While it's true that it's becoming very difficult, if not impossible, for the amateur wrench monkey to work on one's own car due to many of the car's functions being incorporated into proprietary software, it's my impression that cars are better made these days.
I wouldn't use the term "very difficult." Sure, if you want to tweak the AFR of your car for MOAR HORSEPOWER, it will take a specialized tool to access the ECU map tables through the OBD-II port rather than wrenching and screwdriving a old-fashion carburetor.

Swapping out spark plugs, changing tires, brakes/pads/rotors, changing shocks,hoses, oil, other fluids, and minor electrical work? You can buy Harbor Freight tools and spend an afternoon reading the field service manual.

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Re: The Right to Repair

Post by InsaneTD » 2018-06-19 12:12pm

Apple just got a slap on the wrist here in Australia for this kind of thing. I'd quote the article but I'm on my phone.

https://www.accc.gov.au/media-release/i ... -penalties

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Re: The Right to Repair

Post by Elheru Aran » 2018-06-19 12:28pm

Aether wrote:
2018-06-11 08:07pm
Swapping out spark plugs, changing tires, brakes/pads/rotors, changing shocks,hoses, oil, other fluids, and minor electrical work? You can buy Harbor Freight tools and spend an afternoon reading the field service manual.
The problem is that once you start getting beyond the minor stuff that you can access easily... shit gets hard.

Take alternators. A common source of electrical problems in cars. Often put into the most inconvenient place possible. The manual will say that you literally have to remove portions of the body work or the tire assembly to access it.

New designs of autos will have the parts in unconventional locations, too. I had a little Chevy Cobalt a few years ago. Cars have batteries, right? They're usually over by the engine, right? Not in this one. Gotta get into the boot and lift up a bunch of stuff to get at the battery. Woe betide you if you just got groceries and needed your car jumped in the parking lot. I mean, it had a couple of dinky terminals sticking up out of the side of the trunk... but unless you read the manual, you wouldn't know what the hell those were for.

The fact is that once you go past the stuff you can do with a few wrenches and a tire jack, you're probably screwed unless you have access to a pretty decent range of tools, time, and a fair degree of experience mucking about in car guts. This only gets worse once you get into cars newer than the mid-2000s. Those Chilton manuals get more expensive, too.
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Re: The Right to Repair

Post by TheFeniX » 2018-06-19 12:47pm

I don't think a lot of the car stuff is intentional though. Not in the way you'd think. Cars used to have a lot of empty space due to manufacturing processes being less automated and/or the machines being too clunky to work in small spaces and certain platforms being popular and used across a wide range of models. Like my old Chevy 2500 engine compartment was a 350 motor and SPACE. A small person could literally crawl under the hood and shut it. Space for days. But my mom's suburban, same chassis had so many options and other jazz, her engine compartment was a 350 and filled near completely.

Then there was something like my 2000 Dodge Dakota where they crammed a 350 equivalent motor into a mid-sized truck chassis. You had to drop the motor to remove the exhaust manifolds. Was a motherfucker to work on. Meanwhile, my 92 Ranger: to remove the timing chain: 4 bolts on the front end. 4 bolts on the front of the motor. Boom, done. I wouldn't touch it myself, but an honest mechanics would charge $100 to get the front end off when that COULD easily cost a thousand on a different vehicle.

Moving on, cars also used to use empty space as buffering during car-wrecks. The old 70s Lincoln Continental beast? I think it weighs about the same as a modern Chevy Cavalier. And the Cavalier will demolish the Continental in a head-one collision due to better manufacturing. So, they can make smaller cars that are safer than monsters. So they do that. The side effect is shit like replacing the battery on a Volks Beetle requiring removing the entire intake manifold system because everything is CRAMMED into the engine compartment.

Also helps that motors are usually designed to drop out of the car during a wreck so the engine isn't coming through the dashboard. This means, once again, they can get away with much less length in the front of the car. Which means more compact.

tl:dr: I don't think they design cars to be hard to work on to intentionally stop you from working on them. They just want safe, compact, and reliable vehicles. The manufacturing process and design software lets them work with smaller spaces safely and efficiently. So they do that.
Gandalf wrote:
2018-06-09 09:01am
Didn't Microsoft do this with their Windows OS back in the nineties, preventing people from modding their own Windows stuff, or have I misremembered something?
It's been years. My memory is hazy. IIRC Internet Explorer was so integrated into Win98, it couldn't be removed. Also, IIRC (just assume most of this is provided I can recall it correctly) the EU sued them into releasing a version without IE (which continues to this day. If you're doing Windows Network Rollouts, you have options for no IE, no WMP, or nixing both of them) and Windows Media Player. The WMP lawsuit might have been during the heyday of WinXP.

I also recall something about Microsoft restricting their APIs to certain vendors and used this to make life Hell for the developers of Netscape and other browsers, however for whatever reason (maybe because it was so self-contained) they played nice with AOL.

There's always been a fair amount of FUD with MS, though there are multiple legit horror stories with Windows. But I can't recall anything NEAR on the level of companies like John Deer or Apple. If Microsoft was guilty of anything in the 90s, it was atrocious treatment or just incompetence with third-party application developers, not actually STOPPING you or them from fucking your Windows install up as badly as you wanted.

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