EDITORIAL: Spare NY consumers cost of electronic repairs and replacement, help small businesses

Snapchat application on android cell smartphone. Snapchat is a mobile messaging application used to share photos, videos, text, and drawings.
Snapchat application on android cell smartphone. Snapchat is a mobile messaging application used to share photos, videos, text, and drawings.

If only there was a way for New York lawmakers to ease the burden of the state’s ridiculously high taxes, infuse small businesses and boost employment with some sort of consumer legislation that would collectively save us billions of dollars a year.

If only it was as simple as allowing us to go where we wanted to fix our broken smartphones and laptops and other electronic devices without getting hit over the head with monopolistic repair fees or outright replacement costs charged by manufacturers that refuse to share their repair technology.

According to advocacy group, the The Repair Association, most manufacturers withhold manuals or create proprietary parts for their equipment so that only they can make repairs. Some companies, the group says, have now replaced screws with glues to thwart private repairs and to encourage individuals to buy new products. They also tell consumers that repairs by anyone other than manufacturers will void warranties, which might not always be legally true.

The U.S. Public Interest Research Group — a coalition of state public interest groups — issued a report in January on the volume of electronics in this country and found that Americans have and average of 24 pieces of electronics in their homes and spend a little under $1,500 a year on new products.

The group says New York families could save an average of $330 per year and reduce spending on electronics and appliances by 22 percent if they were allowed to have items repaired from businesses other than manufacturers.

New York need to pass the Digital Fair Repair Act and give New York’s consumers relief and small businesses a new way to make money.

The bill (A7006/S4104) would require original equipment manufacturers to make their diagnostic and repair information for digital electronic parts and equipment available to independent repair providers and consumers if the same parts are available to the manufacturers own authorize repair dealers, according to the bill memo.

The bill protects manufacturers by allowing them to withhold trade secrets, and it doesn’t apply to manufacturers of motor vehicles or certain medical devices.

The bill could also result in a reduction in the 6.9 million tons of electronic equipment (some of it toxic) that gets discarded in landfills each year. By allowing more items to be repaired rather than discarded and replaced, this environmental hazard could be reduced.

Lawmakers only have a couple of weeks to act on this vital legislation.

There’s no reason they should let it go unapproved for another year.

Categories: Editorial, Opinion

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