ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Worried about what might happen if you break that shiny new electronic device you got for Christmas? A new state law is aiming to give you more affordable repair options.
The Digital Fair Repair Act requires the original manufacturer of certain devices, like phones, to give independent dealers the same information and access to parts and schematics as is made available to ‘authorized repair providers.’ It was signed into law Thursday by Governor Kathy Hochul.
The hope is this will create more numerous and less costly repair options for consumers. Sponsors of the new law, including Rochester Senator Samra Brouk, also hope it will have environmental benefits, cutting down on the waste stream, as more devices are fixed instead of being tossed in the trash.
New York is the first state in the nation to adopt this type of legislation. Rochester area Congressman Joe Morelle has proposed a similar measure on the federal level.
Earlier this year, Apple launched its ‘self repair‘ effort making parts available directly to consumers.
Lawmakers celebrated the Digital Fair Repair Act, saying it puts consumers first, will reduce waste in landfills, and provide greater choice and affordability. It also helps to share company information and diagrams with independent shops.
But Jessa Jones with iPad Rehab in Honeoye Falls says she’s disappointed. She said Governor Hochul had a bill on her desk with bipartisan support. This is something else.
“And what we got is a watered-down version,” she said.
Jones said what makes her the most worried about this signing is this line here: “This is going to allow the manufacturers to provide assemblies of parts, rather than individual components,” she said.
Meaning — let’s say you have a new iPhone and something goes wrong, and you need to replace a specific tiny part. “I can get another (one of these parts) for about ten bucks, and I could just do four screws, swap in, swap out, there you go,” she said.
But she said — the iPhone’s function is tied to the manufacturers’ branded parts. And that’s a problem. The repair job for one tiny piece — becomes a big, pre-packaged assembly with parts you don’t need.
“Look at the price: $291 for this,” said Jones holding up a boxed assembled repair piece.
Ken Corpus with Computers Works Pro in Webster says this bill has been in the works for seven years; at the last minute, he says changes were made.
“Those amendments, do you want to guess who helped her put those amendments in? Google, Microsoft, Apple, Yahoo…” said Corpus.
Corpus said the lawmakers perhaps looked at this from a safety angle, with concerns over mixing and matching pieces. He says the bill has good intentions.
“But at the end of the day, it comes down to really — what does it mean really to the end user? Are they going to have access to affordable parts?” said Corpus.
Lawmakers did add this law is a plus because it will help ensure broken devices are made with approved parts — versus a shop just mixing and matching pieces. But Jones said that’s really a choice that should be left up to the consumer.