Call for Empirical Research: Nixing the Fix: A workshop on repair restrictions

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Scope of Research

In connection with an FTC workshop exploring repair restrictions, the FTC requested research and data in the following areas:

  1. The prevalence of the following types of repair restrictions:
    • product designs that limit consumer and independent repair shop repairs (e.g., using adhesives instead of machine screws when securing a part such as a battery or requiring special, or proprietary, tools to open a product for repair, or to otherwise conduct repairs)
    • proprietary manufacturer diagnostic tools and parts that limit diagnoses and repairs by consumers or those unaffiliated with the manufacturer
    • product scans, or other diagnostics, used to determine whether a product has been opened or repaired by a party other than the manufacturer, such as a consumer or independent repair shop
    • stickers or labels that warn or imply that a product warranty will be voided if the product is opened or modified by anyone other than the manufacturer or its agent
    • examples of contractual post-sale or licensing restrictions, or proprietary diagnostic software and replacement parts
    • software updates that make products obsolete or unfixable if they have been previously repaired by consumers or repair shops
    • other types of repair restrictions
  2. 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
  3. The effect repair restrictions have on prices for repairing goods, accessibility and timeliness of repairs, and the quality of repairs
  4. The effect of repair restrictions on consumers’ ability to repair warrantied products or to have the products repaired by independent repair shops
  5. The relationship between repair restrictions and the sale of extended warranties by manufacturers
  6. Manufacturers’ justifications for repair restrictions and the factual basis for such justifications
  7. The risks posed by repairs made by consumers or independent repair shops
  8. The liability faced by manufacturers when consumers or independent repair workers are injured while repairing a product
  9. 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
  10. Whether consumers understand the existence and the effects of repair restrictions

The FTC is no longer accepting research submissions. You can find the research that was submitted here.