'Right to Repair' catching on as companies like Apple, Microsoft update policies

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Having a hard time replacing a cellphone battery? It is not at all like changing out batteries in your flashlight. During a recent webinar put on by the consumer group CALPIRG, iFixit, a do-it-yourself repair website, showed just what a cellphone owner has to go through.

"In order to get into the phone to get to the battery you have to take the back off, take the front off. It is a substantial amount of work to get to the battery," Kyle Wiens of iFixit says. "It is kind of like having a car where you have to remove the engine to change a tire."

The consumer group CALPIRG is working to change that by backing "Right to Repair" legislation. It has put together a repair report card. Some of the biggest companies aren't getting As.

"They will make it hard to access the parts you need," says CALPIRG's Sander Kushen. "They could make it really difficult to just disassemble your device, so just the process of opening it can be really difficult and they can just require and just allow access for their authorized repair shop."

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"It's about having the option. If you own it, you should be able to fix it," said one consumer advocate.



Susan Rakov lives in Santa Barbara. She says "Right to Repair" could have helped when her dryer stopped working and the repair tech said it would be hundreds of dollars, just for parts.

"I said to the guy, 'There's got to be some other way, there must be some other way,' and he said, 'Well, I could cut a hole in the front of the dryer,'" she says.

He did, and four years later the dryer is working just fine.

The idea of requiring companies to make parts, tools and software available to buyers and third-party repair shops is catching on. Even President Joe Biden has tweeted about it.

The tweet read in part: "When you own a product, you should be able to repair it yourself. That's why I included support for the 'right to repair' in my Executive Order. Now, companies like Apple and Microsoft are changing their policies..."

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Apple turned down a request for an interview but pointed to this webpage and the company's changing policy allowing consumers access to parts, tools, and manuals. The new policy goes into effect later this year.

Microsoft declined an interview as well but sent a written statement that reads in part: "We are committed to designing our products to deliver what customers need and want in a premium device and that includes increasing repairability..."

Again, CALPIRG's Sander Kushen: "This is an issue that people care about on both sides of the aisle, and you know, as they should like, if you own something you should be able to fix it."

Take a look at more stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.

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