Consumers looking to get their products repaired at independent repair shops or with some DIY often find themselves in a fix. Nixing the Fix: An FTC Report to Congress on Repair Restrictions examines restrictions some manufacturers place on repairs and what can be done to expand consumers’ options.
The Report to Congress is a must-read for businesses. FTC staff explored the issues at Nixing the Fix: A Workshop on Repair Restrictions and have continued to evaluate the topic based on empirical data and public comments received in response to the event.
The Report identifies certain types of repair restrictions – for example, the use of adhesives that make parts difficult to replace, limits on the availability of spare parts, and the unavailability of diagnostic software – and examines the reasons manufacturers gave for those restrictions. Based on the record before it, the FTC concluded that many of the explanations manufacturers’ gave for repair restrictions aren’t well-founded.
Congress specifically directed the FTC to include recommendations on how to best address these problems. You’ll want to take a deeper dive into the Report, but the 25-words-or-less version is that consistent with its statutory authority, the FTC supports expanding consumers’ repair options through appropriate law enforcement and self-regulatory options, as well as consumer education. The FTC also expressed its willingness to work with federal or state legislators to ensure that consumers have choices when their products need repairs.