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Event Description

Staff of the Federal Trade Commission hosted a workshop on July 16, 2019 to examine ways in which manufacturers may limit third-party repairs and is seeking research focused on such limitations.

Nixing the Fix: A Workshop on Repair Restrictions focused on how manufacturers may limit repairs by consumers and repair shops and whether those limitations affect consumer protection, including consumers’ rights under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. The workshop discussed some of the issues that arise when a manufacturer restricts or makes it impossible for a consumer or an independent repair shop to make product repairs and whether such restrictions undercut the Warranty Act’s protections.

In preparation of the workshop, FTC staff requested empirical research and data that responded to several questions, including:

  • The prevalence of the certain types of repair restrictions
  • The effect of repair restrictions on the repair market in the United States, and the impact that manufacturers’ repair restrictions have on small and local businesses
  • The effect repair restrictions have on prices for repairing goods, accessibility and timeliness of repairs, and the quality of repairs
  • The effect of repair restrictions on consumers’ ability to repair warrantied products or to have the products repaired by independent repair shops
  • The relationship between repair restrictions and the sale of extended warranties by manufacturers
  • Manufacturers’ justifications for repair restrictions and the factual basis for such justifications
  • The risks posed by repairs made by consumers or independent repair shops
  • The liability faced by manufacturers when consumers or independent repair workers are injured while repairing a product
  • The liability faced by manufacturers when consumers are injured after using or coming into contact with a product that has been repaired improperly by a consumer or independent repair shop
  • Whether consumers understand the existence and the effects of repair restrictions

Information on how to submit a presentation can be found in the call for empirical research. Research and data must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. ET on September 16, 2019. Comments and the empirical research submissions that have been placed in the public record are available in the Nixing the Fix public docket.

Nixing the Fix: A Workshop on Repair Restrictions was free and open to the public, and was held at the FTC’s Constitution Center Office, located at 400 7th St., SW, Washington, DC.  Nixing the Fix: A Workshop on Repair Restrictions was webcast live.

A BCP staff artist’s representation of Nixing the Fix.

A BCP staff artist’s representation of Nixing the Fix.

  • 12:30 pm

    Welcome and Opening Remarks

    Christine S. Wilson
    Commissioner, Federal Trade Commission

    12:45 pm

    Panel 1: How do repair restrictions affect consumers and small businesses?

    This panel will explore the technological and financial impact repair restrictions have on small businesses and consumers, as well as potential safety concerns surrounding uncertified product parts.

    Walter Alcorn
    Vice President, Environmental Affairs and Industry Sustainability, Consumer Technology Association
    George Borlase
    Research Staff Member, Institute for Defense Analyses Science and Technology Policy Institute
    Jennifer Larson
    CEO, Vibrant Technologies, Eden Prairie, MN
    Theresa McDonough
    Owner, Tech Medic, Middlebury, VT
    Nathan Proctor
    Director, Campaign for the Right to Repair, U.S. PIRG
    Claire Wack
    Moderator, FTC Division of Marketing Practices

    2:00 pm

    Panel 2: What are the arguments for and against repair restrictions?

    Earl Crane
    Security Advisor, Security Innovation Center
    Gay Gordon-Byrne
    Executive Director, The Repair Association
    George Kerchner
    Executive Director, PRBA – The Rechargeable Battery Association
    Gary McGraw
    Security Researcher, Securerepairs.org
    Christine Todaro
    Moderator, FTC Division of Marketing Practices

    3:30 pm

    Break

    3:45 pm

    Panel 3: What’s the fix?

    This panel will explore proposed state legislation and industry initiatives.

    Aaron Lowe
    Senior Vice President, Regulatory and Government Affairs, Auto Care Association
    Hon. David Osmek
    Minnesota State Senator
    Hon. Chris Pearson
    Vermont State Senator
    Kyle Wiens
    Co-founder and CEO, iFixit
    Sarah Faye Pierce
    Director, Government Relations, Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers
    Dan Salsburg
    Moderator, FTC Office of Technology Research & Investigation

    4:45 pm

    Closing Remarks

    Lois C. Greisman
    Associate Director, Division of Marketing Practices

  • Transcript - Files

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