Thursday, February 02, 2017

Can it be fixed?

No, I'm not talking about my malfunctioning Glock 30, now on its way to Georgia. I'm talking about things in general. Can that piece of electronics gadgetry you bought last year for $350 be fixed if it breaks this year, 3 months out of warranty? Or do you just toss it and get another because by the time you box it up, haul it to the UPS Store and pay them to ship it, pay for the repair and then listen to your family complain for up to 6 weeks about not having said gadget, it's just less likely that you will show up on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted list if you toss it and buy a new one?

Yeah. Been there. However, I'm also a hard-headed cheapskate, so I'm well know for grabbing whatever the dead offender is, grumbling that "I can't make it broker", and heading off to the basement to see what I can do. At worst, I've wasted an hour or so, usually I pick up a spare bit or two and once in a great while I actually fix the thing.

It seems that nearly all small appliances, a lot of major ones, most electronics and too many other things are not meant to be repaired. They are designed for ease of manufacture, not ease of maintenance--or any maintenance at all. Worse yet, they aren't designed to be recycled, either.

I'm past tired of tossing things out or trying to figure out how to get them recycled when I'm relatively sure all they need is a small repair.  When my old iPhone 5s began not holding a battery charge last year, rather than going to Verizon and getting a new phone (and a new contract), I went to iFixit, go a battery and some inexpensive tools and changed the battery. Not terribly difficult, even if it did take a bit longer than they said it should.

That purchase got me on iFixit's email list, which I'm cool with. Today I had an email about "Stand up for your Right to Repair!" land in my inbox. It seems that several states are looking at passing laws to somehow help ensure that consumers have access to repair information and parts. Not a big fan of big government, but at least their heart is in the right place, even if they stand to make some coin from selling the tools and such.

I've seen similar legislation in the past for things like auto parts and independent auto repair shops, and I'm pretty sure that those laws are the only reason my mechanic is still able to eek out a living.

I'd like to see not only a move to force the availability of repair parts and knowledge, but a move to push manufacturers to design their goods to actually be repaired. It will drive up the purchase price to some extent, but it should reduce the overall cost of ownership, and that's something we should all be able to benefit from.

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